The annual Christmas bingo of The National Queer Organization Samtökin ’78 will be held at Vinabær, Skipholti 33 in Reykjavík, today, Dec 2nd, to the joy of many.
The bingo is the start of Christmas cheer for many in the queer community and something people look forward to the whole year. There people attend with their whole family and have fun playing bingo and meeting friends. This year the prizes are extraordinary and the total value of what you can win is 1.300.000. But the prizes are not what the joy is about though, says Sigurður Júlíus Guðmundsson the vice chair of Samtökin ’78.
“This is a Cristmas event that many in our queer community see as a totally necessary part of preparing for Christmas,” says Sigurður. “It’s also one of a few family events that the Organization stands for, though there has been an increase of such events in the later years. In the same way as Reykjavík Pride is a kind of gathering of the clan for many of us the Christmas bingo is like a family gathering for some. There you meet a lot of people that you know but don’t see as often as you would like. And the added bonus is the excitement that these great prizes provoke in the players.”
“It’s always fun to win a prize, of course, but it’s the excitement, the atmosphere and the people who make the bingo an essential part of getting in the Christmas spirit for us queer people.”
The prizes this year are truly magnificent and their total value is around 1,3 million ISK. There are gift certificates for food, exhibitions and all kinds of stuff. Backpacks, jewelry, books, a night at a hotel, gym passes and a specially made hula-ring which comes with a private tutoring. There are also a lot of children’s books, all signed by the authors, plus all kinds of other books. That’s something to play hard for, no?
Asked if the Christmas bingo is like a traditional Christmas event with Santas, singing and games Sigurður says that depends of who is in charge of the presentation.
“The presenters usually have some wild cards up their sleeve,” he explains. “Last year, for example the presenter changed the names to represent the numbers every time, most often she read some female name. So the traditional bingo guys Bjarni, Ingi, Nonni, Gunnar and Oddur where not present as they usually are at bingos. Instead we had Barbara, Ingiríður, Nína, Gaga and Oktavía, to name a few. It was a fun twist on the traditions.”
Do people consider this a formal Christmas event and dress up in their Christmas finery to attend?
“Many people dress up, yes, but there is no dress code so people don’t have to worry about that. We just want people to be able to have fun and experience the togetherness and cozy feelings that the bingo provokes in most of us.”
Sigurður has been attending the Christmas bingo since 2001 and he says he always looks forward to it. But has he ever won any prizes?
“I’ve never won anything but my husband won three times last year and the last time he sent me up on the stage to gather the prize. There I had to draw a card to decide which prize he would get and I drew the highest card so, yes, you can say I won a bit of that prize.”
“In the same way as Reykjavík Pride is a kind of gathering of the clan for many of us the Christmas bingo is like a family gathering for some.”
So the prizes are not the main attraction, apparently, what makes this event so special in your mind?
“It’s always fun to win a prize, of course, but it’s the excitement, the atmosphere and the people who make the bingo an essential part of getting in the Christmas spirit for us queer people,” says Sigurður and you can tell that he really means it.
So if you are a part of the queer community in Iceland, dress up – if you like -, show up and experience the joy for yourself. You won’t regret it. More info here.