A sunny Sunday in Dublin is an all-too-rare happening these days, so when one bops along it’s pounced upon and waved around ‘til every drop of sunshine has been shaken from it. Days like these are spent somewhere like the Iveagh gardens with the papers, then outside a pub, where we shift our tables to catch the last rays of the sun as it sinks down. Then the chill sets in and Monday morning looms. Em… suppose we really should be going home. School night an’ all…
Yeah, right. There’s always more fun to be had, even though our archaic licensing laws mean that most places close early on a Sunday, as the majority of pubs don’t see it to be worth their while staying open until 1am. Some clubs don’t even bother opening at all. The silver lining here is that we have to be a little more imaginative with our choice of venue, usually resulting in a smattering of 80’s power ballads being belted out in a karaoke booth, or drunkenly missing shots upstairs in the Palace. For those of us who ‘tumble outta bed, stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition’, however, late-night Sundays are infused with a touch of mischief that make them all the more fun.
So, it was with tipsy sun-drunk heads that we found ourselves in the George on a Sunday evening of late for a couple of games of the septugenarian’s favourite pastime: bingo. We arrived at ten, and the place was jammers, with a crowd of about 70/30 gay/lesbian (and a few straight friends thrown in for good measure). All the seats around the stage were filled with regulars, evidenced by the neat arrangements of cards and pens beside drinks. After procuring the necessary items we positioned ourselves by a fetching statue of the Virgin Mary and waited for the game to begin. But this isn’t just your ordinary bingo night, oh no. To paraphrase a certain well-known supermarket ad: this is a sparkling, glitzy, all-singing, all-dancing Bingo At The George bingo night. The show started with a brilliant, lip-synched-to-perfection rendition of Sheena Easton’s ‘Morning Train’ by Shirley Temple Bar, Dolly, and Dizzy, dolled up in matching orange patent heels and so many sequins it looked like Tinkerbell threw up on them. A couple more songs and the bingo got underway. At this point I hazily realised that I’ve never actually played bingo before and my accompanying buddies weren’t much use, dancing and singing away beside me with little or no interest in the game. Luckily I was taken under the (bingo) wing of James, who’s a bit of a veteran. He had two cards on the go at once, intently crossing off his numbers as Shirley screeched them out, occasionally grabbing my card to cross off mine when I lost concentration or was chatting, giving me a stern look as he did so. Sequins or no, there’s still a potential jackpot to be won, and the die-hard weekly players could be spotted a mile off.
Shirley Temple Bar is a great bingo-caller, way more suited to the George than to her show on RTE, which she slags off at every available opportunity. Preferring to use her own ‘bingo lingo’ instead of the traditional ‘two fat ladies – 88!’ style, she is raucous and hilarious, strutting round the stage with her mic and making snide remarks to Dolly and the other queens, who sit bitchily at the sidelines. The bingo lasts for an hour or so, and then more singing, more dancing, more piss-taking. A wind machine is rolled out for the ‘pop singer inexplicably caught in a wind tunnel’ look and the queens take it in turns to deliver some hilarious covers of Lady GaGa, Britney et al. Shirley TB’s take on Madonna’s Frozen video (where she sings into a Cornetto and finishes by scattering frozen peas and carrots on the front row) was priceless. The girls high-kicked and shimmied their way through song after song in a frenzy of PVC and sparkles until 1am when they finished up with a rousing rendition of Rhythm of Life.
One by one, the nine-to-fivers had all slipped away home to face the Monday-morningness of the week ahead. Only two of us were left (barely) standing, and we wobbled off home on our bikes, happy to have found an entertaining way to wrap up a sunny Sunday, and well worth the couple of extra coffees the next day.
Words by Lauren Kavanagh
Photos by Emma Brereton