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Conga Line dance history photo
Conga Dance History origin Title

       The Afro-Cuban 'Conga' (Spanish=a Congolese woman) is really a "Mixer" type dance, done by a solo or group of dancers most common in a single file line. When done as a couple, the dancers face each other and move opposite direction of one measure, then switch directions on the next measure (1,2,3,* 1,2,3,*).

   The 'La Conga' version can also be done as a Couple dance, who can join hands and do patterns to this rhythm as well as turn. When done as a couple, hands are usually changed on the third beat. The La Conga may be done touching or separate or as a mixture. See link for directions.

    When done as a Conga Line (photo above), generally the person behind the next places their hands upon the front persons hips and this continues on down the line. The dance does not necessarily stay on the dance dance floor, it can and does zig-zag through out the room. The basic steps are (Left) 1-2-3-Kick (or Bump) then repeat, opposite. The Boomp-si-Doodlewas often mixed with this dance. Originally a band member, wearing a drum and beating out a tune would venture onto the dance floor. He would start zig-zagging around the floor and tables playing his drum and the dancers would start to follow behind him doing the dance like a slithering snake all the while the line grows and the drums would intensify until the drum just stopped being played, no fancy ending.

   The Conga is said to be brought from Africa by the Slaves to Cuba and the suger plantations of the West Indies which had been danced there for years. During the Machado dictatorship in Cuba, peasants were forbidden to dance the Conga because rival groups would work themselves to high excitement and explode into street fighting. Col. Fulgencio Batista, a political strong man of Cuba, relaxed the rules somewhat permitting Congas during election time but a police permit is required for public dancing of the Conga at all other times. Then it drifted onto Paris and was the sensation of 1936 in Montmartro and Montparnasse. The dance started to gain some popularity in the USA around 1929 when the original La Conga Nightclub (57th Street) opened it's doors (which later became La Martinique owned by Ramon and Dario.) By 1937, the Conga was all the rage in New York.

    Desi Arnaz (aka Ricki Ricardo of "I Love Lucy") is credited with making the Brazilian Conga popular here in the United States and became popular around 1938. Many night clubs would advertise "Conga Night or sponsor a Conga Room" which was another term for Latin American Music that would be played. However the Conga Line was done much earlier and was introduced at a wedding Reception (Frieda's) as early as 1905 by the "Gloriosky Old Maids", specifically Prudence Adams.

... As a side note the dance Balboa and Conga share the same rhythm 1-2-3-kick-1-2-3-kick. (Yes, I know that Bal has other rhythms as well.) Just an interesting observation that I thought I'd share lol. In the soundie clip "Swing Cats Jamboree" at the end of the film is a dance scene with the kids doing a kinda fast Bal-Conga couples dance to big band music buy Louis Prima but was probably the 'La Conga'.


Birth Place

Creation Date

Creator

Dance Type

Africa / Cuba 1905 n/a Mixer
       

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music CD's

1940 - La Conga Nights $1940 - Viene La Conga Best of Desi Arnaz [CD]
  1944 - Ameri-Conga Conga! [CD](Desi Arnaz)
  La Conga Conga Caliente [CD] (Sanchez)
    Conga Kings [CD]
    Kids Conga Party Music [CD]
    King Conga [CD]
    Me Gusta La Conga [CD] (Cugat)
    Soul of the Conga [CD] (Sanchez)

Music Titles ...

A Picciuttedda di la Conga d'oru Conga Twist (Revels) La Conga Pasa
Alegre Conga (De Marcos) Congo- 1932 (Muse) Me Gusta La Conga [MP3] (Cugat)
Arriba La Conga (DeMarcos) Congo Mombo (Gable) Rocka-Conga (Applejacks)
Babalu (Arnaz) Cui Cui Say Si Si
Boogie Woogie Conga Do The La Conga Society Conga (Cugat)
Conga Goin Conga (Cab) That Bongo Beat
Conga Blues [MP3] Kindergarten Conga [MP3] (Grable) That Conga Chain Gang
Conga Brava (Ellington) La Conga [MP3] Viene La Conga (1940)
Conga Conga, the (Cab) La Conga Blicoti [MP3] - 1936 (Baker) Conga (Gloria Estefan, Miami Sound Machine)
Conga Rock    

Night Clubs

Theaters

Locations

Conga Room n/a n/a
Cuban Casino        
Cubanacán" Night Club        
El Chico (Greenwich Vlg)        
El Morrocco        
Havana-Madrid Club (NY)        
Jimmy Kelly's        
La Conga (57th Street, NY)      

Political

La Conga (Broadway, NY)       Col. Fulgencio Batista
La Martinique (Ramon & Dario)       Machado
Leon & Eddie's            
Marta Cabaret (N.Y.)            
Rio Grande            
Stork Club (NY)            
Versailles Club            
Waldorf-Astoria (Cugat)            
Zebra Room            

Video Clip View (Po-Up Window)

Films

Television

Stage

Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1938 - College Swing Muppet Show - Veterinarian's Hospital: Conga (Clip) 1930's - Cotton Club Revue
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1939 - La Conga Tap (Honolulu) Bugs Bunny - The Dancing Rabbit (Clip) 1932 - Hollywood on Parade
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1940 - Congamania Elmer Fudd - Peace & Weewaxation(Clip) 1972 - Lysistrata
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1940 - La Conga Nights       The Birdcage
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1940 - Strike up the Band (1-2-3-boom) [DVD]      

Publications

Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1940 - Torrid Zone (Ann Sheridan)       11/12/1937 - Hammond Times (New Dance - Conga)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1941 - Ball of Fire (Stanwyck conga's)       11/12/1937 - Ironwood Daily Globe (Gothams new dance)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1941 - Blondie Goes Latin [DVD]       11/16/1938 - Iowa City Press - Citizen (How To Do)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1941 - Four Jacks and a Jill [DVD]       4/18/1939 - Pic Magazine
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1941 - Moon Over Miami [DVD]       11/5/1939 - Fresno Bee (Conga and Others)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1941 - Hellzapoppin' (end conga scene)       Photplay - Movie Mirror
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1942 - Kickin' the Conga Round (Popeye)       10/25/1941 - Charleston Gazette (Conga Footprints)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1942 - My Sister Eileen (Russell / Blair)       1/10/1942 - Picture Post Magazine
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1942 - Tica Ti Tica Ta (conga at end)       11/29/1942 - Coshocton Tribune (Rosalind Russell)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. 1943 - They Stooge To Conga (in title only) [DVD]       5/20/1947 - Kingston Daily Freeman (Conga in Picket Line)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1946 - Cuban Pete (Arnaz Babalu scene)        
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1947 - Angels or Demons (Pons)        
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. La reina del trópico (Pons)        
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. La Conga Se Fue (Ramon Ros & His Dancers)        
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1993 - Weekend at Bernies II      

 


Other Related Dances of the time...

Boopsie-Doodle Chicken Dance Lockstep, the (1908) Rumba n/a
Bunny Hop Cucaracha Mambo Samba  
Bump, the Conga Line Merengue    
Cha-Cha Hokey-Pokey Pachanga    

Dancers, Choreographers etc.

Artists

Arthur Murray Mae Murray 1988 - Keith Haring
Betty Grable (w/Hermes Pan) Marie Kay  
Bobby Martyn Mary Beth and Bob?  
Cesar Romero Mickey Rooney  
Cuban Conga Dancers Ramon and Dario  
De Marcos, the Ramon and Renita  
Eddie Duchin Ramon Ros & Dancers  
Ethel Merman Rene and Stella (Havana-Madrid club)  
Hermes Pan (w/Grable) Rosalind Russel & Janet Blair (My Sister Eileen)  
Joe Brown Jr. Rosita Ortega (Havana-Madrid Club)  
Judy Garland William K. Vanderbilts, the  
madame La Zonga    

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...

Title

Author

Date

Publisher

How To Become A good Dancer Murray, Arthur 1938 Simon & Schuster
How To Become A good Dancer Murray, Arthur 1947 ??
Dancing with the De Marcos The De Marcos 1943 Peer Intl' Corp.
Dancing Lee, Betty 1945 ??
How Hollywood Dances Laurence, John 1948 Ambassador Station
Dancing Lee, Betty 1952 Pioneer Publications, Inc.
Dancing Made Easy White, Betty 1958 David McKay
       

Musicians / Bands

Singers

Poets / Writers

Applejacks, the Cab Calloway n/a
'Chino' Pozo Carmen Miranda  
Delores Del Carmen Duke Ellington    
Desi Arnaz Josephine Baker    
Duke Ellington Rooney & Garland    
Eliseo Grenet Xavier Cugat    
Enric Madriguera's      
Guitar Gable      
Kingsmens, the        
Lecuona        
Mariani        
Mariano Merceron        
Nano Rodrigo        
Oscar de la Rosa        
Panchito        
Ramero & Don        
Revels, the        
Panchito Riset and his La Conga Orchestra        
Pancho Sanchez        
Xavier Cugat        
         

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

Conga Drum Scrunch babaloa = babaloo Bombo Drum
Mondolino tumba or tumbadora Voudon / Voodoo    
         

Other...

  • La Conga Lyrics:

  • In Havana every Cubana shakes her bandana to the La Conga.
    It's a new dance, something new to dance
    Wait till you dance to the La Conga.

  • Wait till you hear the beat of the bonga.
    Just get that beat and you get the Conga.
    It delights you and it excites you and it invites you to do the La Conga.

  • In Buenos Aires and London and Paris they Tango.
    In old Vienna their favorite has long been a waltz.
    In Wiakill in Madrid and Seville they Fandango.
    But in Havana all the maidens go 1, 2, 3, Boom,
    1, 2, 3, boom, 1, 2, 3, boom 1, 2, 3, boom.

  • In Hava-vana every Cub-ana shakes her ban-dana to the La Conga.
    It's a new dance, something new to dance
    Wait till you dance to the La Conga.

  • The La Conga... of the Bonga. ya da da get the Conga
    Do ya ralla do ya ralla ralla da do do do Conga.
    It delights you and it excites you and it invites you to do the La Conga.

  • Conga-Conga
    Now you know the La Conga (Dance Break)
    1, 2, 3, boom! (Dance Break)

  • Conga-Conga-Conga,
    Now you know the Conga! Conga! Boom!

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