Underground Rebel Bingo: Town Watch Meeting at TLA

On Saturday night, Independent Philly decided to attended a Town Watch meeting at the Theater of the Living Arts on South Street. We were surprised when we arrived at the number of younger citizens that showed up to take an interest in their neighborhood and its safety.

Once inside the lobby, we saw multi-colored safety markers being handed out. We assumed this served two purposes. One, to color code our crime pie-charts, and two, nothing says safety like safety markers. What a great metaphor! All of the colors in the giant box of markers clearly represented all of the wonderful races, religions, and sexual preferences of the people in our neighborhood. The box was the TLA where we all came together to discuss safety.

We selected our markers and entered the main room of the venue. Directly inside the door a posted sign clearly indicated that there was no bingo being played at the TLA that night. We weren’t expecting bingo but were disappointed nonetheless to see that none would be played. Maybe a spontaneous game of another sort would break out? We kept our fingers crossed.

On stage, a lone DJ stood behind a set of turntables. We instantly recognized him as Tommy Up, owner of the widely popular PYT bar/restaurant in the Piazza at Schmidts.

We grabbed a drink and enjoyed the music as we waited for the Town Watch meeting to begin. We had a photographer on hand to help document the meeting and his camera was focused on the stage when the community leader replaced the DJ around 1030pm. Shockingly, the MC announced to the crowd that the entire Town Watch meeting had been a clever rouse. There was no Town Watch gathering. We were all deeply entrenched in a secret meeting of the Underground Rebel Bingo Club.

What followed next can only be described as bizarre. Artists from Bodypaint.me roamed through the crowd, painting fans. Bingo cards appeared in everyone’s hands and numbers, along with clever rhymes, were called out from stage. PBR’s were pounded. Safety was replaced by debauchery. Chaos reigned.

Prizes were awarded to the first person to get a bingo and force their way onto the stage. These included a stuffed panda bear (or perhaps it was an actual panda cub), an inflatable pool, a panda costume, and a sweet MP3 boombox. Those making it to the stage were also insulted, broken down, and occasionally redeemed.

We still haven’t fully recovered. We’ve been finding it hard to trust any signs we see. Signs hold our society together. If a sign stating “No Bingo Here Tonight” can lie to us, what’s next? Maybe Burger King isn’t the home of the Whopper. Perhaps the showtimes on the movie theater marquee are not only wrong, but once inside you’ll find the movie isn’t even playing there! Is that candy bar really $1, or should you just assume it’s free and take it? Anything is possible.

On Sunday morning, the Underground Rebel Bingo Club had departed from our fair city, but the repercussions of their faux Town Watch meeting are still being felt. They are sure to return to town but how will we know where or when? The next time you go to church on Sunday, it could be actually be a Rebel Bingo meeting. That reservation you made at that romantic restaurant could turn out to be the same.

They are out there…and it’s only a matter of time before we stumble head-first into another night of numbered balls, sin, and glorious fun.

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