When it comes to social gaming, bingo brings one the most diverse groups of people together. And that’s especially true for Dabbers’ virtual games.
The Zoom call is made up of people from all different backgrounds – who we doubt you’d ever see all together in the real world. But they’re brought together by a shared boredom and a love of bingo. It’s like a big social experiment.
We played against old Kevin who was with his grandson, plenty of couples having an alternative date night, a handful of young families with their pets, plenty of rowdy house shares, a couple of punk kids trying to enjoy it all sarcastically, a few rooms of lads on the beers, and even a stray middle-aged man in a full-on suit with disco lights whizzing around his living room.
No judgement here – we are all doing whatever we can to survive another lockdown. And from time to time, they’d play some pop music and show everyone dancing about in their respective homes.
It switches through each of these characters in their own lockdown world, just like a cheesy M&S ad. It feels set up. But these folks are all real. And each person is just as over this lockdown as the next.
Thankfully, Dabbers’ bingo offers a little escapism. You sign up online and pay about £8 per person, depending upon how many people in your household are taking part. Then you download Zoom and login to the game when they’re ready for you. They’ll email you the bingo cards which you can print them off or play on your phone (it’s far more fun to print them off). Then all you have to do is follow the game.
Now, you must remember this is a ‘new age’ bingo hall based in Shoreditch. It’s going to be nonsensical. Dad jokes will come at you hard and fast. Innuendo is aplenty. And you best believe they’ll throw a few drag queens in whenever possible. The Dabbers motto seems to be more is more. And we fully support it.
For the virtual games, they have a host who performs in front of a green screen, their resident DJ, the Ball Master and their own head bartender who talks people through making a few cocktails (you can even purchase some cocktail kits ahead of time with Dabbers). Behind the scenes are a bunch of videographers making it feel more professional too. It’s fairly seamlessly done. They make it look easy.
And once you’ve taken all the silliness in, all you have to do is play some bingo. And watch on as many players think they have won, only to be shamed in front of the Zoom call for circling the wrong numbers. Because who doesn’t love some public bingo shaming? But it’s all done in good fun. People are here to have a laugh.
Just don’t get too comfortable. Big prizes are to be won. Win cash (up to £100), a lucky toy cat, a year-long membership to Dabbers and a drinks package delivered to your door.
And we were so glad to see old Kevin win £100 (after turning down the year-long membership he already had) the day before he was about to get his Covid-19 vaccine. No one was upset to see this gentleman win big! The same goes for Janice – a woman around the same age as Kevin – who beat a young couple in a dance off to get her £30 cash prize.
It’s strange just how invested you get in these bingo games. Not just the burning desire to win some money, but also the people you’re playing against. At its core, bingo is just a whole lot of wholesome fun. Plus, with most people’s cameras on, it’s also a people watcher’s dream come true.