Feels like an age ago that I last spoke of the Underground Rebel Bingo Club, and how retail bingo could take some pointers from their anarchic, non-traditional take on bingo. I was searching around for something else and our paths crossed again, and I was amazed to see how far the brand had grown since my last meeting with them, from a little UK based brand to one with a global following.
As well as global growth, the UK has also seen a growth with 12 cities now offering sign-ups for events. More impressive is the world wide spread of the club, they now have groups in North America, Spain and as far afield as Beijing. It would seem that bingo has captured a whole new audience that the UK’s old school industry should be chasing down too.
I will use it to vindicate exactly what I’ve been saying for years, with a few tweaks, a bit of sideways thinking and adaptation, a whole new bingo audience is out there, clamoring for the chance to pick up their markers and play. I have to say I’m really impressed with how this bastard offspring of the game has grown and grown in this Rebel Bingo format, all the time cocking its snoot at the traditional old fuddy-duddy game the UK’s high street halls have continued to enshrine.
But there are glimmers of change out there, 6 Mecca clubs have for a while now been offering After Dark Binglo, no doubt inspired by meetings between Mecca staff and Rebel Bingo Club organisers. It offers a riotous take on the game that’s proved popular with the younger generation. Mecca Bingo should be applauded for at least trying these events, and trying to break the mould.
I’m not suggesting UK clubs should heave out their traditional audience and start offering the rebel experience, but maybe a couple of times a month, on a quieter night they could try and meld the two to get the new audience in. Maybe have some crossover with traditional games part of the night then turning it up a notch or two for the rest of it. These younger players who like the wilder game, might just like both versions, and start playing the other nights too.
There’s still a long way to go, but I think there’s a small revolution that’s waiting to happen, giving retail bingo the boost its much needed in recent times. And with most revolutions, it starts with a rebel, challenging the old order and making something new. I think the Underground Rebel Bingo Club could be just that little upstart that sees the world of bingo change and grow into a new and beautiful game with a more universal appeal, and that’s a good thing.