In a busy world of one-off events, fleeting fads, and things that cost money, it’s always nice to have something that’s not any of those three things. Enter Music Bingo, a Wednesday night staple hosted in the Melody Bar. The concept originated on the west-coast (as all things easy-going tend to do), and there it stayed, until three years ago event-host Kaleb Robertson brought it to Toronto and into the Gladstone Hotel’s Melody Bar.
Since 2015 the Melody Bar has hosted 156 Music Bingos. That’s 468 individual games! The majority of them with Kaleb, although some fun guest hosts have had the chance to grace the stage too. And the best part? No two games or Music Bingo nights are ever quite the same. Individual games are sorted by genre, from country to top 40, from the 60s to the 10s. There are also always new prizes thrown into the mix, like the rad snowsuit from Steam Whistle Pilsner Kaleb gave out just in time for winter!
Here are a few more reflections on the night from Kaleb—and if you haven’t had the chance to check it out yet, join us for the 3 year anniversary of Music Bingo on December 12th! There will be prizes from Steam Whistle, and a special one-time-only grand prize of a $100 gift card for dinner and/or drinks here at the hotel!
It’s been three years, in a city where events are kind of competitive — what do you think it is about Music Bingo that has lasting appeal?
Kaleb: It’s straight up fun, but it also has broad appeal; we’ve celebrated 20th birthdays up to a 72nd birthday and everything in-between. There have been celebrations with just a couple, and parties of 20+ people as well. Bingo is also great for first dates, special occasions, and it’s even on some people’s bucket lists! It’s also turned into a regular meet-up for groups of friends, giving them a place and event to catch up around.
Can you tell when people are on a Tinder/Grindr/Bumble date?
K: I have seen so many people over the three years that sometimes it feels like it’s all a blur. Recently someone said “don’t judge me if it seems like I’m here with a different person every time, it’s just a great place for dates!”
You do a lot of performance work in the city — from Fay & Fluffy’s StoryTime, to DJing, to party planning & hosting, to Music Bingo — how do you find the event scene at large is evolving? Is there anything people are looking to do now that they weren’t 3-5 years ago? What’s faded away over that time?
K: Events come and go as quickly as bars do. Major places keep closing, like Parts & Labour, and neighbourhoods are changing rapidly too. But there are also things like Simpsons Trivia at the Cadillac Lounge & the Drake Trivia that have been going strong for years. Events that really capture an audience are always just a bit different week over week, so they have some momentum. Similarly, Music Bingo can vary hugely in terms of vibe. Sometimes it’s a smaller crowd with a party energy, sometimes it’s a hugely full room but it feels mellow. Music Bingo is adaptable in this way — the audience can evolve along with the game, as different music is played each week and new things are happening around in the nieghbourhood.
What’s coming up this next year for this classic night?
K: We’ll be here for Boxing Day, so it’ll be a great chance to entertain family from out of town, or escape from family if the holidays are just a bit overwhelming. Bingo’s also getting booked a lot for private and corporate events — it’s always a great icebreaker for potentially awkward holiday parties 🙂
↗↗ What is Music Bingo? ↖↖ Music Bingo is a FREE weekly event every Wednesdays in the Gladstone’s Melody Bar that is perfect for groups and parties!! Music Bingo combines a love of music with the traditional bingo format. Each player receives a Music Bingo card which consists of an assortment of songs. Instead of calling out numbers, we play the music! Singing along encouraged.