The punk rock bingo experience
“Anyone come tonight for bingo?” he asks.
Punk Rock Bingo originated in the now-defunct Castle Pub back in the late 90s and has since been passed on to three Calgary locales – the Ship and Anchor, Broken City, and The Distillery.
Steve Berezay, longtime host of Punk Rock Bingo madness, resides at the Ship while rival Dauber Dave can now be found at The Distillery.
The music is loud, fluctuating wildly within the confines of punk and rock genres, and the “punk rock” attitude of inebriation, defiance, and obscenity is strongly encouraged.
Behind Berezay, the prizes are laid out – an eclectic assortment of band shirts, retro board games, Star Wars merchandise, comic books, Mexican wrestling masks, tastefully random paintings, and a variety of pop and nerd culture memorabilia.
“So is it anyone’s first time?” Berezay asks, and is answered with a few raised hands and much incomprehensible shouting.
Not all hands are raised though – entire tables of veterans already have their bingo sheets, daubers, and pint glasses set up in systematic formation.
Unsurprisingly, the Ship is already packed and rowdy.
“Well, here’s the deal,” Berezay says, holding up a wooden canoe paddle, roughly about as tall as he is.
“If anyone lies about a bingo, they get this.”
Upholding tradition, if someone erroneously calls “Bingo,” they are subject to a smack on the ass from the unapologetic – usually laughing – host.
While tonight’s weapon of choice is a paddle, the smacker can be whatever the host chooses – from skateboards to Ping-Pong rackets– and the host will usually ask the crowd how hard the person deserves a smack.
When someone wins a prize, they must stand on a chair in front of everyone so they can be booed and showered with the confetti of torn-up bingo sheets in faux – or genuine – outrage.
Punk Rock Bingo is held every Tuesday at the Ship and Anchor and Broken City at 8 p.m., and Thursday at The Distillery, 8 p.m. Admission is free for all venues.