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The Belfast man having real ball with his 'bingo rave' craze that's sweeping UK

By Cate McCurry

Published 10/08/2016

Contestants at a Bongo’s Bingo event
Contestants at a Bongo’s Bingo event
David Hasselhoff
Jonny Lacey

An entrepreneur from Northern Ireland who co-founded the bingo rave phenomenon that's sweeping the UK is set to take the new "night out" worldwide.

Jonny Lacey (30), from Belfast, has been flooded with offers to host the popular parties in venues from Australia to Mexico - and now plans to bring his famous bingo nights to his home city.

Bongo's Bingo has changed the face of the popular pastime - players can win prizes including convertibles, holidays to the Caribbean and a speed boat. And it's all happening while dancing to Nineties pop music on top of tables while host Jonny gets ready to call out the next number.

The event was launched in Liverpool last April by him and business partner Josh Burke.

The shows quickly became a sell-out and the pair invested the revenue made at the door into bigger prizes, and invited celebrity guests including David Hasselhoff, Vengaboys and girl band B*Witched to take part.

The pair are now touring the UK and will appear at the Edinburgh Fringe for eight shows this month.

"We are doing 24 shows in 25 days, it's mental," Jonny said.

"We have loads coming up, more cities to tour and we have a television production company following us, looking for a possible commission on a documentary. We also did an advert for Audi at the weekend.

"I can't get my head around how people have responded to it."

Thousands of people from all ages and backgrounds flock to Bongo's Bingo for "something different".

While Josh deals with the business side of the event, Jonny looks after the night's production and ideas.

The entrepreneurs employ seven people full-time to cope with the demand.

Jonny explained the idea behind it: "It sounds cheesy, but you have to go to it to see what the script is. It's essentially bingo, so you still play the game; the standard rules of bingo apply and you still win prizes. But it's all the bits in between that turn it into a big rave.

"It's up and down the whole night - one minute you're playing bingo and the next you're up dancing on the tables, and then you're back playing bingo and it goes like that all night.

"Then, in the middle of it all, there's a 15-minute rave, the lights go out and there's a smoke cannon and confetti and glow sticks and you have a full rave."

He has plans to take the bingo night to Belfast in the near future: "It's very likely we'll have it in Belfast, but it could be a while yet. If people are up for fun then they will have a great time because the atmosphere is so mental. The game of bingo is a laugh itself, but if you go to a bingo night and don't win anything it's no good - so if you mix it with a night out and bring in music and dancing and guests, it changes it.

"I never expected it to go the way it has - it took off quite quickly and within six months I was calling out numbers with David Hasselhoff."

Belfast Telegraph

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