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Spelling Bee

“A mix of irony seekers and hardcore spelling nerds.”
- TimeOut New York -

“…the bar game of choice for self-proclaimed geeks and well-groomed lovers of logorrhea.”
- The Village Voice -

“…go for the cold drinks and the inevitable laughs derived from
watching a person who is tipsy try to spell trichotillomania.”
- The New York Times -

About The Bee

The Williamsburg Spelling Bee is a real, cabaret-style, adults-only spelling bee that takes place the first Monday of the month at Pete’s Candy Store in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Founded in September 2004, the bee has nearly reached its tenth birthday, and over one hundred and fifty bees have been held. The bee has been featured in the New York Times and on NPR, and was once mocked on television by Bill Maher. An unnamed spelling bee in Williamsburg also featured prominently in an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent.

Singer bobbyblue founded the bee in 2004. Jen has been the word reader and co-emcee since shortly thereafter.

Jen and bobby are also for hire for private spelling-related events; Jen also hosts trivia, vocabulary, math, geography events.  For more information, please visit

Prize donations are always welcome. Previous sponsors have included the Oxford English Dictionary, Mental Floss, and Gotham Girls Roller Derby.

Find us at

The Schedule

Season 15  (2013) – First Monday of the month:
Feb 4, March 4, April 1, May 6, June 3, July 1, Aug 5, Sept 2, Oct 7, Nov 4, Dec 2 FINALS

Signup at 7pm, compete at 7:30
Free.  Nerdy prizes for winners. /
(718) 302-3770

Directions to Pete’s: Take the L train to the second stop in Brooklyn, Lorimer. Exit at the head of the train, and walk along Lorimer in the direction of the BQE. Pete’s is 1.5 blocks past the BQE, on your left. 709 Lorimer Street, between Frost and Richardson Streets. (map)

The Rules

1. Signup starts at 7pm and we take the first 15 people.
2. Open to everyone who’s legally allowed to be in a bar.
3. Three-strikes-you’re-out — you get two “freebies”!
4. Beer is encouraged. In fact, buying alcohol is what keeps the bee going, so please do!
5. Everyone is welcome to participate in every spelling bee up to the Finals, when the winners of the season’s previous bees will square off for the championship!
6. You don’t actually have to say the word before and after spelling it, but it’s a nice idea.  If you start spelling a word and you lose your place, you can start over without changing anything, but once a letter comes out of your mouth, it’s set in stone.
7. If you’re Canadian (or even if you aren’t), you can say “zed” for “z” and “double-l” instead of “l, l”; however, all spellings must be American-style.
8. You can’t bring pen and paper up to the mic, but you can pretend to write on your hand if you want.


Photos by Deneka Peniston
High res press photo by Kimi Milo #1
High res press photo by Kimi Milo #2
High res press photo by Kimi Milo #3