Meet Jonny Bongo

Meet the man who puts the Bongo’s in Bingo, it’s our very own Jonny Bongo.

June 9, 2020

Meet the man who puts the Bongo’s in Bingo, it’s our very own Jonny Bongo. Here we sit down with the man himself, who along with his mate Joshua Burke, co-founded Bongo’s Bingo. 

Vice have recently called you “the king of bingo” – how does this amazing accolade feel? 

Haha – I am truly honoured to be the king of anything!

Describe the last 5 years of Bongo’s Bingo in 5 words? 

The most amazing roller coaster. 

On paper it sounds so simple – bingo, music, dancing and prizes. What really makes your concept so successful? 

I think that part of it is that it appears to be so simple and not over complicated, or maybe more that we make it look so simple when in fact it’s a really thought out show. The hosts, the dancers, the techs, the visuals, the music, the prizes, the moments of madness… it all takes a lot of planning, and we are doing that at each and every show and we’re always refreshing it too.

What have been the biggest challenges – personally and for the company? 

A number of things I think. The strain of performing multiple times a week for me - I don’t think people realise doing a lot of shows back to back is so full on for us all on stage, I am goosed by the end. There have also been copycats and legal battles too, but all worth it though and we are more united and stronger than ever. 

You have hosted 100s of shows across the world, from the first ever show in Liverpool, to 4 thousand people at XL in Manchester, to Ibiza, Dubai, Amsterdam, Australia and more - what are your stand-out memories? 

Honestly it all rolls into one; but I still get that intense nervous feeling before every show no matter where it is. The debuts always stick out for each location, as each one is new and unknown. The first times in Oz, Ibiza, at XL in Manchester etc – all brilliant shows and all a bit nerve-wracking too. 

There’s real escapism and community at all Bongo’s Bingo’s show – why do you think that is, where does that feeling come from?  

I think it’s because we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We are an incredibly diverse team but all have the same goal of putting on a really fun spectacle and that just feeds into the audience. When you see a thousand people going crazy you know we have got it right, it’s that feeling and connection everyone has together as we play bingo and dance like no one’s watching. For me that is the escapism - everyone is on the exact same level of madness. 

How many bottles of Buckfast have you consumed in the last 5 years? 

I actually don’t really wanna think about it. 1000?! 

Fave special guest? 

I don’t think I could pick just one. Up there though The Vengaboys, Nadine, Kelis and S Club.  The maddest bastard with a heart of gold is Basshunter.  

What’s your all-time defining Bongo’s Bingo tune? 

Carnival de Paris is the one. Goosebumps for days.

For someone who has never been, what advice would you give them ahead of their first show? 

Let loose, go with the flow and wear comfy shoes - you’ll be dancing plenty! 

How have you kept busy during lockdown? 

Every Friday and Saturday I’m usually on stage hosting our Liverpool shows. I’m missing the energy of our shows and our amazing customers but I’ve got plenty on to be keeping me busy for now. Most mornings I am up early with our little boy Alex and we go out on lots of adventures. My partner Louise is pregnant with our second child, so we are getting ready for that – baby number two arrives this summer! I have been getting into cooking and posting stories for what I have been making. We are eating well, ha! I have hosted some socially distanced bingo parties on my street too. They’ve been class and a bit surreal, with everyone dancing in their front gardens and patios to B*Witched. I found myself itching to do something during the lockdown, and getting the neighbours together to win a cut-out of Ainsley

And lastly, what is coming next for Bongo’s Bingo?  

With the arrival of lock down we dabbled in some streaming from our profile. We had amazing feedback on these shows and 25 million minutes were watched by viewers which is insane! Whilst we’re not running streams right now we do have a project that we’re working on, more news to follow soon! Once it’s safe to do so we’ll be throwing 6 mega parties for the NHS and Emergency Services workers across the UK as a thank you for their amazing work. From there, we’re going to keep doing what we do best with our parties but bring the madness to more and more countries with our international expansion. The future is incredibly exciting and we can’t wait to crack on with it! 


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