Wailing Bongo

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Main entrance to the "Wailing Bongo", as of 2007

The Wailing Bongo (often referred to as 'Gurus', which comprises part of the building) was the main venue for bands playing at the University of Waikato in the mid- to late-1990s. Notable events held there included Hamapalooza (1993), the 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997 Battle of the Bands competitions, Contact 89FM's 21st birthday party, the release party for the 'Contact 89FM' CD compilation Green Eggs and Hamilton, the release gigs for the Romantic Andes album To Understand the Animals (1994) and Rocket EP (1996), the Atrocities One release party (1994) as well as numerous Orientation festivals featuring local and international acts.

The "Bongo" was mismanaged into oblivion after the election of a student union who believed the bar did not cater for the average student. The union employed a manager who would aim to make the Bongo similar to the bars already existing in town, complete with a DJ to play mainstream dance music. Alienating the strong regular crowd, who was interested in bands and with more refined musical tastes, it had limited success in attracting its intended clientele. It instead attracted many underage drinkers that contributed greatly to its downfall.

Late in the Bongo's existence it played host to The Dirty Three from Australia; here the juxtaposition was stark, with two disparate crowds migrating between the main hall and the bar when each band gave way to the DJ, and vice-versa. Most painfully, the DJ began playing music half-way through an intense Dirty Three song, breaking the mood with his cry of "Lets give it up for the Dirty Three!!". While the bar now exists as a cafe, the band area is now a weights room of the university gym.

Significant Gigs[edit]