Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
What would you say then if I told you that there is a super-fun bingo night every Friday at a very unexpected place?
That’s what I’d like to tell you about today.
I first heard of this bingo night while working as a community coordinator at one of Dar es Salaam’s foreign missions.
As community coordinator, I organized activities that would enable newly arrived diplomats to discover the city. These activities would also give them a chance to rub shoulders with local communities.
I decided to check it out.
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The First Time at the Upanga Club Bingo Night
I arrived at Upanga Club alone (because I couldn’t convince any of my friends to spend a weekend night playing bingo) at around 8 p.m. on a Friday night. In case you don’t know, you can also play Bingo online on the Betway website.
My preliminary research had told me that this would be the time around which the event would begin.
Because the club is members only, catering to a select community, I was a apprehensive at how I’d be received.
Feigning confidence, I walked up to the door of the club. There I found a man seated behind a small table. I told him that I was there for bingo.
I think the man saw right through my facade. In an unusually warm and welcoming manner, he explained the entrance requirements for the night. He also went on to tell me more about how the evening would unfold.
Most importantly, he told me that the entrance charge was 2,000 Tanzanian shilings for an initial bingo card (cards for subsequent rounds would be sold before each round began with the price increasing as the night proceeded) and that the game would begin at 9:30 p.m.
In the meantime, he continued in his friendly manner, I could go in and have food and drinks while I waited for the game to start.
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The warm reception made me feel much better and a lot more comfortable.
Following his guidance, I headed to the bingo area.
In the foyer, since I had a lot of time to kill, I scanned the notices and the cricket pictures on the wall to get a better sense of what Upanga Club was all about.
Upanga Club is a social sports club that caters mainly to Dar es Salaam’s Indo-Tanzanian community.
Once I entered its courtyard, no surprise to me, I saw multi-generational Indo-Tanzanian families having leisurely Friday dinner.
I have been to Upanga Club’s bingo night a couple of times now. Each time, that’s something I have always noticed: the service is both fast and friendly.
A quick glance at the menu told me that I could pick from not only a wide selection of Indian food but also burgers, pizzas, and other fast food.
Meanwhile, I took advantage of the time I had before the game began to people watch and look around.
As I said, there were multi-generational Indo-Tanzanian families with young kids in tow having a leisurely Friday evening out.
There were young men at a few tables taking full advantage of the well-stocked bar.
As it got closer to game time, tables of white expatriates—young and old—begin to show up too.
It was an easy, relaxed atmosphere.
Or at least it was before the game began.
The Rules of the Game
I had last played bingo in kindergarten, so I was a bit unsure of the rules of the game.
If you, like I was, are not familiar with bingo, here’s a quick primer.
For starters, the bingo played at Upanga Club is the version of the game played in the Commonwealth—not American bingo.
In essence, each player has a card with the numbers 1 to 90 on it, arranged in six 9×3 grids (these grids have empty boxes but all the numbers 1 to 90 appear once on each card).
A caller then calls out random numbers between 1 and 90, and the players mark off these numbers on their cards as they are called out.
The first person to achieve the specific configuration mentioned at the beginning of the round wins a prize.
That’s basically it but you can find more details here.
As the caller called out numbers, I crossed them out on my sheet.
First game–I won nothing.
Second game–nothing still.
By the third game, discouragement had surprisingly not set in. Instead, it was quite the opposite: I was all in! When the caller threatened to throw some rowdy guys out of the club for disrupting the game, I was in complete agreement!
We had to be able to hear the caller; there was money at stake after all! ;-p
My First Win
Finally, in the third game, I won something. (And boy, was it a rush!) My winnings were 50,000 Tanzanian shillings for a full house, i.e., all the numbers in a 9×3 grid marked off.
I was ecstatic!
“Bingo!", I yelled, and off I went to get my card verified. With my winnings in hand, I collected my things and left immediately! I didn’t want the thought of risking my winnings in another round to cross my mind.
I finally understood that day what the thrill of gambling was! If you would like to experience that thrill without leaving your house, you can try your hand at online casino games with Betway.
I had lots of fun that first night—and I have had fun every time I’ve been to Upanga Club to play bingo, now even being able to play multiple bingo cards at a time. (What can I say? It’s addictive. *shrugs*)
If you are interested in doing something new and unusual in Dar es Salaam, in an easy and relaxed atmosphere, while eating great inexpensive Indian food and sipping on drinks, then I wholeheartedly recommend the Friday night bingo at Upanga Club.
If you go, let me know what you think.
The Small Print
Upanga Club is located on Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road near the Commonwealth Dar es Salaam (Upanga Road) War Cemetery.
Bingo begins at 9:30 p.m., and while the game is in progress, you cannot buy any food.
If you would like to take advantage of the wide selection of delicious, authentic, well-priced Indian food, then be sure to get there early.
Until the next time,
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Photo Credit: monsieurpolk.wordpress.com, zarana.co.uk