No longer just a game for blue-haired grannies and their good luck charms, bingo has made a killer comeback. But if you're looking to compete with a pre-retirement crowd (and sip on something stronger than a tepid soda), skip the high school basements and head instead to one of these bingo-happy nightspots. Each offers a distinct atmosphere, a slew of trinkety prizes and the chance to holler your heart out when you finally get BINGO! While accoutrements like drinks and smokes will cost you, playing is free everywhere.
'Bags of Crap' Bingo at the California Clipper
While the prizes here include T-shirts, schmaltzy movies and vintage vinyl, the real jackpots of the night are the "bags of crap," a bounty of toys and trinkets that pair perfectly with a light buzz and a boothful of friends. Less gimmicky than other bingo beacons in town, nights at the California Clipper mainly consist of low-cost cocktails, friendly bartenders and a slew of diehard regulars. Hosts Steve Spataro and Steve Sowely keep the night lively by mixing traditional bingo calls with pot-shots at each others' egos. Bingo starts at 9:30 p.m. on Mondays.
Tango meets bingo at the Museum of Contemporary Art
Cram in as much culture as you can with a free gallery visit followed by an evening spent sipping wine, playing bingo and learning to tango in the museum's white-tablecloth cafe. Professional Argentine tango dance instructors give newbies dance lessons during the game intermission while local artists rotate as bingo callers. The atmosphere is more relaxed than rowdy, with traditional bingo patterns and sarcasm-free calling. Bingo/Tango starts at 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month.
Get risque at Roscoe's Tavern
We're betting that this Boystown bar is the only place in Chicago where you can play bingo and see a Wet Boxer contest on the same night. Granted, that's only one Thursday out of the month, but what a night it is. And bingo's still exciting every week, thanks to hosts Frida Lay and Honey West. Head to the dance floor between 9 and 11 p.m., grab a card and you could win a wide variety of sexy and playful prizes from the best boutiques on Halsted.
Beefed up bingo at Hamburger Mary's
Every Monday night at 8 p.m., this Andersonville favorite hosts "HamBINGO." Kennidi Monroe and Velicity Metropolis will be "calling the balls," and all proceeds benefit a different local charity each week. Keep your energy up with $5 Sauza margaritas, $2 Jello shots and $1 off Bud Light Lime.