Game Changers

Whether matching wits, racing toy cars, or testing their luck, grown-ups play harder after dark


Photograph by flickr/KR1212

At the roving Underground Rebel Bingo club, you get loud rock, a giant screen projecting expletives, and skimpily dressed assistants showing off the booty (and the prizes). On Wednesday and Sunday evenings, the drag queens who host “Legendary Bingo” at West Hollywood’s Hamburger Mary’s call out more than numbers. Prizes like restaurant gift certificates and time shares sweeten the catty quips, and the money goes to charity.  

Once a month in Los Feliz DIY woodworkers race their handmade cars in the retro Knotty Pinewood Derby at Bigfoot Lodge. Expect tattooed boy toys competing for free drinks, trophies, and Boy Scout patches. Bring your own turtle or rent one from the stable at the Marina del Rey pub Brennan’s. Though these little guys are notoriously slow, the crowd’s enthusiasm for the Thursday night races brings out the reptiles’ zeal. Winners draw kitschy prizes from a grab bag.   

Day or night, anyone can play at Henry’s Hat in the Hollywood Hills. The screening room with a communal Wii console is the most popular option. For smaller groups, it’s all about chess, checkers, Twister, Jenga, and Connect 4. The Burbank beer bar Tony’s Darts Away switches to 21 and over after 8 p.m., though it stockpiles an extensive board game collection. Strangers often become friends—or mortal enemies—depending on how many battleships get sunk.  

Two companies host many of L.A.’s top trivia nights: Action Trivia runs contests at Red Lion Tavern (Silver Lake), the York (Highland Park), and Sardo’s (Burbank); King Trivia sets up camp at Casey’s Irish Pub (downtown), the Cork Lounge (Sherman Oaks), and Barney’s Beanery (West Hollywood). Put those brain cells to work at independent trivia nights at Little Bar (Mid City), Ye Rustic Inn (Los Feliz), and Eagle Rock Brewery (Glassell Park). 

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