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Eat, sleep, rave, repeat, eat, sleep, rave repeat: just your average day in the life of an early twentysomething – if the myths (and Fatboy Slim) are to believed.
Despite plenty of studies showing that young people are skint, stressed out about the future and worried they will never get a decent job, they are still subject to perceptions that they are either lazy, or out to cause trouble. The recent 2011 riots, still fresh in people’s memory, haven’t helped the cause.
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Down at Bingo Palace, in the inner depths of Elephant and Castle shopping centre in London, Gary Dighton is there with his mum and for him, it’s all about the win: “I’d prefer make money, than just go out and drink.” The most he has won is £80, but this is a big club with national games – players regularly win up to £1,000.
He’s close to his mum, and takes her twice a week for a night out. But just by virtue of being a hoodie-wearing 20-year-old, he says he rubs people up the wrong way. “People around where I live aren’t very polite to me. It’s their influences, they just think I’ll be involved in crime or something,” he said.
He’s not the only one more likely to be down the bingo hall, than down the pub – and it’s not just the hipster joints putting on bingo nights as an ironic nod to a bygone era. The Bingo Palace manager Patrick Kelly, who’s also vice-chair of the Bingo Association, says the average age of players is getting younger.
“Young people are always attracted to clubs that are bigger, busier, and offer good money. It’s like everything – it’s about the atmosphere that goes with it,” he said. “They come in the evening. People often meet up, and you’ll see them moving from table to table. It’s a very safe environment, especially for women.””