What?: I’m so glad we did this just before we went into lockdown, because it was one of the most joyful things we’ve ever done as a family, and I really needed a big dose of joy a week before being indefinitely incarcerated in a 800sqft flat with a pair of under-fives. We were late, as usual, and I was a bit gutted we missed out on the pre-show kids’ activities, but the atmosphere was so infectious I quickly forgot my Covid/”how do we always manage to be late for everything?” anxiety and surrendered myself to the bingo spirit. Actually, it sounds woefully irresponsible in hindsight but it almost felt like an end-of-the-world party; like we were all indulging in one last hoorah before the inevitable happened, but when it did I was eternally grateful we’d had that daft, Mojito-fuelled afternoon of silliness.
I’ve never played granny bingo, but I’m fairly confident that this isn’t it, judging by the host’s sequinned jumpsuit and the pornstar martinis. Gone are the migraine-inducing 60s carpets and upholstered booths, replaced by a cabaret-style layout and custom-built ball machine that looks like something out of Logan’s Run. The menu is full of ridiculous-sounding things like “session fries” and “chicaronnes”, and to this day I’m annoyed we didn’t order food because I need to add jalapeno tater tots and beer-battered dill pickles to my list of life experiences.
Bingo-wise, this session obviously pretty child-friendly, with animal-themed riddles in place of bingo lingo, and I was impressed that high chairs, buggy parking and baby changing are all available, given that this is an over-18s venue the rest of the time. That said, the event is probably aimed at families with slightly older kids and moved a bit too fast for Babu (and me and Adam once we had a couple of drinks down us, to be fair). The music round was slightly lost on Babu’s four-year-old brain too, and ended with her throwing all of our dabbers on the floor, but then we got her up on the stage for a dance and everything was fine again.
So in sum, I think the fact that we missed out on the food, pre-show activities and basically everything else save for the actual bingo and still had an incredible time says a lot about this wonderful event, which I now want to attend every time it’s on for the rest of time. The staff were fun, chilled and attentive; the drinks were nice and strong; the venue was cool; the entertainment was lol; the prizes were decent and the vibe was positively electric. Dabbers, it was an absolute bloody pleasure.
Where and When?: Family Brunch Bingo sessions take place one Sunday a month from 1.30 (but get there early for kids’ crafting and slime). Dabber’s is the UK’s first and only purpose-built contemporary bingo hall, and you can find it at 18-22 Houndsditch, a three-minute walk from Aldgate tube.
Best Bits: It was a joy from start to finish, to be honest.
Worst Bits: We were late and missed out on the slime, crafting, tuck shop and the gift that all kids apparently get on arrival, but that was our own silly fault.
Cost: £10 per adult, kids go free
Would We Come Back?: Oh my God yes. It’ll be one of the first things we do when the virus fucks off.
Babu takes the stage during Family Brunch Bingo at Dabbers, Aldgate.