Bingo: It's Fun When You're Drunk


The drunken crowd, clad in tight jeans and ironically large sunglasses, splayed on a cheap folding chairs and pricey low-lying couches, screams mostly in unison and with feeling.

It's Bingo Night at the Standard. Inside the Belle Island hotel -- a joint so hip that its bright white sign out front is mounted jarringly upside-down -- Miami's white-belt crowd gathers every Sunday evening to enjoy that most blue-haired, John McCain-vintage leisurely pursuit.

And who knew? It turns out grandma was on to something -- especially when the gin and tonics are flowing like Metamusil.

It's obvious from the first batch of number-imprinted ping-pong balls that most revelers under 75 aren't used to using the Bingo muscle in their brain. You know, the one that can focus on random numbers, locate them on a scorecard, dab them with a marker and -- most importantly -- recognize the all important B-I-N-G-O when it appears.

So to keep everyone involved the lovely announcer -- she prefers to be known as the "call girl" -- keeps things interesting by inciting the crowd to scream "BALLS!" before each turn and adding a little spice to the numbers: B-10 becomes "beaten off" and I-16 is announced simply as "statutory."

"What does it take to date Michael Jackson?" she implores time and again. You must B-14, naturally.

If it all sounds campy, oh yes, it is. But set in the Standard's retro '50s lobby, all aglitter with mod globe lights and dotted with tiny dogs in their finest Sunday outfits, a peculiar Bingo spirits infects the crowd.

So stop fighting it and just scream along: "BALLS!"

-- Tim Elfrink

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