Tuesday, October 12, 2010

BINGO Culture

Throughout my travels, I've come across several churches, halls, meeting areas and old buildings with a  sign outside that announces the night and time of Bingo each week.  I've always wanted to stop in and take a peek and I finally did in central Maine at a hall I've driven by a few times.

I am hooked.  I didn't play but sat and observed the people.  This is serious business.  Bingo has a culture all its own and there are unspoken rules and a silent etiquette to follow.  The moment I stepped foot in the hall, it was obvious that I was new to the scene.  I didn't have anything but a camera which was a big hint.  Most players have bags with markers, trinkets, cards, good luck charms, playing cards, photographs, candy and the like.

One thing about the players is that they come early and they come prepared.  One woman I spoke to said that you need to come ready to play so you can set up your personal space and have enough room for your cards.  Several players would have up to twenty cards laid out at a time to play in the same game.

For me, that sounds like a lot of thinking.

I would be happy with just one card to be responsible for.  The more cards I have, the more likely I would miss checking off a number and miss my chance to raise my hand for the jackpot.

I am not one to take pictures of people who don't want their photograph taken.  Everyone in the hall knew I had a camera and that I was taking photographs. Only one person told me they didn't want to be photographed and I respected that.  They were all very welcoming to me answering all sorts of questions on the game and detailing their method of play.  Even though they were friendly to me, I knew that their mind was focused on the game at hand.

I plan on visiting more bingo halls on my travels to dig deeper into this culture. I look forward to capturing images of the different personalities across each state in this game.  Perhaps maybe someday I will sit down to play one card.


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