On a rainy Wednesday night, students returned to Peirce Hall after dinner for the event of the semester: Social Board’s final Bingo Night. Gathering around Old Side’s long tables, the room was filled with over 200 students. The sense of intensity and anticipation in the air was impossible to miss.
On this particular night, many of the players had never attended Bingo before. They came seeking the plethora of prizes, ranging from Hydroflasks to projectors and Beats headphones. On most Bingo Nights, the room is filled almost entirely with Bingo the regulars. “There is definitely a . . . core group of ‘Bingo goers’ that comes to every single [Bingo Night], but then I think it could also just be a social event for a friend group, ” said Carson Weisbord ’19, one of Social Board’s executives. Members of the swim team are perhaps the most notable of the regulars: they almost always fill up an entire table. “I’m very competitive,” said Hannah Orbach-Mandel ’19, a member of the swim team who has been coming to Bingo consistently for four years now. “[Bingo] is kind of crazy and intense, but it’s exciting,” she said.
Orbach-Mandel is not the only competitive player. Students are incredibly observant of bingo’s rules. They make sure their peers shout “bingo” rather than say it at a normal volume, and that they are only using one board at a time. The one-board rule is especially important considering Social Board’s use of a mixed bingo set, which leads to certain numbers being repeated throughout the night. With this in mind, students pick their boards very carefully at the beginning of the night. Georgie Lellman ’20 even keeps notes of repeated bingo numbers in her phone for this purpose.
Social Board’s executive members, all of whom are “seasoned [bingo] veterans,” ran Bingo this week; they also noted this intensity. “[Bingo] can be really competitive, and sometimes if you don’t specify the rules [at the beginning] people get really upset when there’s ties,” said Caitlin Kennedy ’19. “You kind of have to come up with different systems for how to manage ties.” On Wednesday, due to the immense volume of students, they were even more careful to lay out the rules.
And yet, despite the competitive nature of these Bingo Nights, there is a sense of community among the players. While some attend in pursuit of prizes, many people go to hang out with friends and spend time doing anything besides homework. Those who read their numbers clearly are greeted with cheers, and whenever square B4 is called, the room responds, in unison, “Or after?”
Though the room fills with groans after a particularly long round as students clear their nearly filled boards, it is also filled with the cheers of the winner’s friends.
It is not the prizes won at Bingo that causes players to return to Old Side month after month, but rather the bonds they strengthen and form through their shared love of the game.