Erica Thompson tries a new spin on bingo, which holds a special place in her heart.
I was raised in bowling alleys and bingo halls. When I wasn't traveling with my mom to bowling tournaments, I was sitting beside her at the Bob Hope House or Rink's Flea Market in Cincinnati with paper bingo sheets, ink daubers and toy trolls for good luck. Needless to say, bingo has a special place in my heart, so I was excited to try a new spin on the game.
“Singo,” or musical bingo, is offered at Hadley's Bar + Kitchen each Wednesday night beginning at 8 p.m. When my friend Maya and I visited, the bar was about two-thirds full with patrons who were there primarily to eat and drink, but were pleasantly surprised when the event host, Tara, passed out the “Singo” sheets.
Each person's paper was full of titles of popular songs from the '80s and beyond. For example, I had hits like “Take on Me” by A-ha and “Firework” by Katy Perry. The goal was to mark songs on your sheet as you heard them and the first person to fill in a straight line would win the first round. The prize was $5 off your bill. We were encouraged to cheat using an app like Shazam. After all, it wasn't as if we were looking up trivia answers, our server reasoned.
A woman from a lively table of out-of-town folks yelled, “Bring it on, Tara!” and the game commenced. I probably should have cheated because I did not recognize quite a few songs, especially those in the country genre. I did not win any of the rounds in the first game, but I think a lousy sheet also contributed to my downfall.
I had better luck during the second game, which was strictly '90s pop. My new sheet, which included everything from “Everyday is a Winding Road” by Sheryl Crow to “Motownphilly” by Boyz II Men, brought me two wins and a considerably cheaper meal. Granted, the bar had cleared out by then. I think my only competition was Maya and a tipsy man who claimed “Singo” prematurely. He responded to the loss better than some people, who can get a bit angry, Tara said.
But the nearly empty space brought up an interesting question. If “Singo” is being hosted and no one is playing, is it still “Singo”? Or is it just a nostalgic DJ set?
I would definitely play “Singo” again. I had some laughs observing the enthusiastic out-of-towner dance to “Mickey,” her whole table singing along to “Sweet Caroline” — “So good! So good! So good!” — and Tara riffing during “Emotions.”
“Sing along with this one so Mariah Carey doesn't have to,” she said.
Too soon, Tara. Too soon.