The age of Bing Bong is upon us. Seemingly overnight, the pair of onomatopoeic words has become a catchphrase of plugged-in New Yorkers and sports fans everywhere. “Bing bong!” has been a rallying cry of Knicks fans since October and it even received a few write-in votes in the NYC mayoral election in early November. In the past week, however, its use has exploded; it’s gone from an inside joke among basketball fans to a mainstream mantra.
But what does it mean? — The catchphrase comes from a viral video shot October 20 outside of Madison Square Garden in which a raucous crowd of screaming fans celebrates the Knicks beating the Celtics in double-overtime. Amid the euphoric chaos, a camera captures the berserk fans’ quotes, like “we have de Blasio, we have Cuomo, it was rough shit, but we have the Knicks!” At one point, the video cuts from a joyful fan releasing a guttural squawk to another crowd member who delivers the golden words: “Bing bong!”
The spirit of New York — That utterance is a nod to Sidetalk, the social media channel that calls itself “New York’s one-minute street show,” which recorded and posted the original video. Created by a pair of NYU film students named Jack Byrne and Trent Simonian, the channel opens each video with the “bing bong” sound of subway doors closing. Since Sidetalk’s first YouTube video in October 2019, the duo has reliably uploaded minute-long dispatches from the wild sidewalks of New York and amassed over 370,000 YouTube subscribers, a million Instagram followers, and 2.8 million TikTok followers.
Sidetalk captures a gritty and uninhibited side of the city. The account’s clips have complex layers of weirdness that you could unpeel like an onion — if you had more than a few seconds to process them. Take, for example, the 5-second clip of a man in a hard hat and sweatpants holding two dogs and urging Ariana Grande to visit Coney Island. Just as you grasp what’s going on, the video cuts to something just as nuts.
“Bing bong” isn’t the only Sidetalk soundbite to develop a viral life of its own; the audio “what do you want to tell Joe Byron right now?” has been used as a sound in 39,000 TikTok videos and counting.
What does bing bong mean to you? — “Bing bong” encapsulates a certain New York irreverence — the pride in being emphatically yourself with little regard for what the rest of the world thinks. That said, its exact meaning varies depending on whom you ask. I texted a few of my friends to see how they would translate “bing bong,” and their answers ranged from “liberation” to “that’s what’s up” to “get fucked.”
Like “yeet” and other standalone internet catchphrases, it’s hard to define what “bing bong” really means. The two simple syllables capture a vibe that goes beyond real words.