During times of stress, anxiety or financial woes….
one alternative method to therapy is breaking out the bongos, a pair of single-headed drums that can thump away your troubles or even turn you into a minor pop star at your friends’ homes. A group of bongo players can liven up a dull party. Unfashionable at times, bongos always seem to make a comeback. And what better time than now?
Despite their ups and downs, bongos have remained a unique sound piece through the musical trends of the eras. Bongos are inexpensive and portable. Anybody can become a hit bongo player. You just gently squeeze the pair of drums between your knees, using the fingers and palms of the hands to capture rhythms that spice up an evening. Some people play conga drums, cousins to bongos. The taller, tapering drums are played similarly to bongos.
The bongo craze probably started in the late 1800s in Cuba, but similar instruments date back centuries to Middle Eastern countries. Cuban musical styles featuring bongos became popular in American bands in the 1940s. By the 1950s, they were the rage of hipness. The choice instrument of beatniks, the pre-1960s hippies, bongos accompanied many a poet in the darkened night joints frequented by the cool artists of the day in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and other cities. Words echoed the feelings of those who felt alienated from conventional America as the thumping of bongos provided the background music. Hey, man, can you dig it? The world is such a drag.
Bongos filtered into the movie industry as the soundtracks to rebellious films, often when delinquents showed up to crash a party or rough up neighborhood residents. It wasn’t uncommon for a young Marlon Brando to play bongos in the corner of a Hollywood party to boost his image as “The Wild One.”
Bongos continued to play a pivotal role in Spanish flamenco music, jazz and rock. Bongos rolled with the punches from mambo to rumba to salsa. Gloria Estefan popularized the instrument again through her Miami sound in the 1980s, but even artists such as Sheryl Crow have used the bongo beat in songs.
Bongo and conga parties have their phases from time to time where people are invited to bring their own bongos for a night of beating the skins. Drum circles on the beach feature bongo players as people dance in the sand in the middle of a circle. Bongo party buses sometimes replace limos to take a group to events. Bongo nights headline clubs from Los Angeles to London. You can get a pair of bongos at the local music store or find a cheap pair online. Then bongo your blues away and impress your friends.