Liverpool’s changing nightlife: Bingo, crazy golf, quiz nights and more!
Liverpool’s nightlife is being transformed thanks to a growing appetite for more substantial experiences among the current generation of punters. Event organisers and venues across the city are taking a creative approach to this conundrum and tapping into unlikely sources along the way, reinventing everything from bingo to crazy golf with a 21st Century audience in mind. As attractions like Bongo’s Bingo and Ghetto Golf continue to grow in stature, Your Move explores how traditional entertainment is enjoying a new lease of life and ponders what could be next for the city as this concept gathers pace.
Words by Mark Langshaw
The very mention of the word ‘bingo’ once conjured images of pensioner-packed halls gradually decaying in the face of online competition, but that’s no longer the case in Liverpool.
Part of a trend which has seen traditional games become unique attractions, Bongo’s Bingo offers a fresh twist on the probability pastime and has repackaged it for a younger, trendier audience.
The event, which regularly takes place at Camp & Furnace, combines the core concept of bingo with rave intervals, dance-offs and star guests including David Hasselhoff and the Vengaboys.
Drenched in nostalgia and irony, Bongo’s Bingo regularly brings a full house to the Greenland Street venue and is helping to sate Liverpool’s thirst for alternative nights out.
“I think in general people no longer settle for the norm when it comes to a night out,” Bongo’s Bingo co-founder Johnny Bongo tells Your Move. “They’re looking to be entertained a lot more and people visiting the same bars week in, week out is becoming rarer.”
The runaway success of Bongo’s Bingo over the last two years has led to the night expanding to other UK cities with plans for international growth, and has also inspired other local venues including Constellations to launch their own unconventional takes on the age-old game.
But what is driving the demand for these original leisure experiences in Liverpool? According to Johnny, the rise of social media and its ability to give revellers a glimpse at the nightlife in cities across the world has played a part.
“The surge in demand for these experiences could be due to the influence of social media broadening people’s horizons,” he explains. “If you go on Facebook you might see footage from a world-class club night in Australia or America and want to experience something similar, rather than visiting the same venue with the same music each week.
“Social media has raised people’s expectations in this game, which is a good thing because it means promoters and event organisers need to put in more effort, rather than simply hiring a room and a DJ and putting a few drinks promotions on. Creativity and originality is more important now.”
“Social media has raised people’s expectations, which is a good thing because it means promoters and event organisers need to put in more effort. Creativity and originality is more important now.”
Bingo is by no means the only traditional game to mutate into a modern day crowd-pleaser in Liverpool, with crazy golf also enjoying a resurgence in the city.
The wacky sport exploded back into the local limelight last year when Ghetto Golf launched at the former Cains Brewery, combining the game with cocktail chugging, DJs and street food set against the neon backdrop of a ghetto wonderland.
Located in Liverpool ONE, the Jungle Rumble Adventure Golf attraction offers a similar experience, albeit with a broader audience in mind as families are catered for too.
Since Ghetto Golf arrived in the Baltic Triangle at the tail end of 2016, Jungle Rumble is said to have seen a surge in business, suggesting that these new age attractions are mutually beneficial to one another rather than direct competitors.
“When I started in the industry you would never talk about the bar next to you as they would take your custom, but these days neighbouring venues are working together to draw punters into the area with collaborative social media campaigns,” says Carl Rice, deputy manager at Jungle Rumble.
“When Ghetto Golf opened in December last year our turnover went up by about 50%. Saturdays are off the scale now. Ghetto Golf uses a booking system and we don’t, so we get a lot of walk-in customers who couldn’t get a reservation at Ghetto.”
The concept of defying convention does not stop there as alternative quiz night are all the rage in Liverpool. Creative collective No-Wave, for one, has been finding success with its contests based on movies such as ‘Home Alone’ and ‘Elf’ as well as TV shows ‘Arrested Development’ and ‘Peep Show’.
This bold movement is showing no signs of slowing down, but where will it lead and which established pastime could be the next to undergo a contemporary transformation?
According to Carl, the likes of Bongo’s Bingo and Jungle Rumble are no flashes in the pan. He predicts that more attractions of this nature will spring up in Liverpool going forward and believes he has identified a gap in the city centre market.
“We’ll see more twists on traditional forms of entertainment in Liverpool, as long as events like Bongo’s Bingo remain popular,” he says. “Whoever comes up with the craziest idea will be the one who scores the next big break.
“If somebody opened a full-scale bowling alley in town they would make millions. A wacky twist on bowling would go down well, but even if Hollywood Bowl was to move its alley from Edge Lane to the city centre they would turn over millions each year.”