Normally when I think of “Gaming in Indianapolis” I envision conventions and gaming groups (a.k.a. gaming geeks sitting around tables playing things such as “Settlers of Catan”). However, this week I was invited by a friend to join in on a completely different gaming experience. I never thought that I would associate local Indianapolis gaming with clowns, burlesque dancers, and bingo but that is exactly what I was invited to: The White Rabbit’s Burlesque Bingo Bango Show.
I’m not usually a fan of bingo. One of my editors is a fan and loves going to bingo halls, but that has never scratched an itch for me. So while my buddy had asked me to come out to Burlesque Bingo a few other times, I never really made much of an effort to make it out. It just wasn’t much my scene. This week I found myself with a completely obligation free evening, and hating to tell her ‘no’, I agreed to join her. After all, there is burlesque, that has to make it better than the average game of bingo, right?
I’ve been down to the White Rabbit many times before, and I love its atmosphere. It’s very subdued and has a lot of old cabaret charm to it. The building has a full sized stage, an old bar to one side, as well as couches and plush chairs to the back of the room behind small cocktail tables. The lighting is soft and low, and small candles dot the dim lighting. It’s a very warm and inviting space.
When I arrived I paid the man at the door ($5 for bingo) and received my bingo card. Then I waded through people to get to the bar. For those that enjoy imbibing from time to time, the White Rabbit serves wine, beer, and ciders. They actually keep my favorite cider on hand, Crispin, so I didn’t have to deliberate long about what I wanted.
Drink in hand, I wandered off to find my friends. They had grabbed a small table in the corner near the stage. Good thing too, because it was 8:45pm, still fifteen minutes from show time, and the room was already packed. We sat, drinking, talking, and waiting for the show to start. Nine o’clock came and went, leaving the audience waiting till approximately 9:30pm before the show got started. Many years ago I worked in live theater, and I understand delays happen, but half hour delays are annoying. My friends were bingo veterans and said that they always seemed to start pretty late, so I shrugged it off and enjoyed my cider.
When the show finally did start we were greeted by our M.C., a loud mouthed clown who calls himself “Dorgan the Organ” and his mime side kick “Milroy”. The duo explained the rules: Dorgan will call numbers and you should cover them on your card with old buttons that were on your table. When you get a bingo speak up. When you read back your numbers don’t say “Free Space” as part of the winning row or you will be ridiculed. For the most part it was standard bingo rules. Nothing special.
Then we met “Betty”. Betty was our burlesque dancer for the evening. She came out in a shimmery, gold, and tight fitting dress, a feather boa, long black gloves with gold fringe, and black stockings. She did a short little number to warm up the crowd and then we were off to reading numbers. The game of bingo worked like any other game of bingo. Dorgan called off numbers, usually making grouchy, silly, or raunchy quips in between each. A dozen numbers later, we had our first “BINGO!” of the night. Milroy, the mime, went out in the audience to verify the win. After showing that he wasn’t a “dirty liar” he was invited on stage to win his prize.
Winning prizes is a multi-stage process. First, a dance and article removal by Betty. This initially took the form of her sensually removing her boa, but as the night pressed on she lost more and more. Second, you are given a choice: pick the prize under the cloth or pick the prize under the table. These are not really the kinds of prizes you want to win. They are silly nonsense that seemed to be scrounged from local thrift stores. Over the course of the evening I saw people win Darth Vader masks, a Tweety bird jean jacket, pork rinds, a painting of a cat in a trench coat, and a giant pair of AM-FM headphones from the 70’s. The prizes were… special, to say the least. God help you if you call bingo at the same time as someone else.
The second bingo of the evening was a tie between two people. A young woman from another table, and my guy pal, Mario, whom I had come with. Both were pulled on stage, and were told there would be a dance off. An honest to God dance off. Milroy put on some music and the two were left to their own devices. Well, their own devices, with Dorgan’s influence. By the end of the short song (maybe three minutes?) my friend had just finished grinding on a clown. This was a weird night. After the song the audience was told to vote by making some noise for each person, and my friend was the clear winner.
The show progressed on like this for a while. A little after 11pm they announced that they were going to have an intermission and come back in ten minutes. I was having fun, but with the knowledge that we were only half way done, and it was fast approaching my usual work night bed time, I said goodbye to friends and ducked out early. I woke this morning to find a text saying I had missed out on the clown doing some… interesting… things with a pickle. Perhaps some things are better left unseen.
Gaming in Indianapolis. It appears it can be as calm and family friendly, or as raunchy and adult, as you might enjoy. This evenings excursion obviously leaned more on the side of raunchy, but we had a great time. This was a very different experience, and if you enjoy light gaming and have a good sense of humor, I recommend heading down and checking this show out one week. Total cost of this excursion (which included two bottles of cider and admission) $14. Not too shabby for an evening of raunchy clowns, saucy burlesque dancers, and oh yeah… Bingo!
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