Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Congo Room & Mission Impossible

Barbara Bain in Mission Impossible
Twistin' Kings Congo Pts 1 & 2 Motown

Channel 5 US in the UK has been showing re-runs of the US TV series Mission Impossible from the first season.
One show was The Carriers. The synopsis is as follows:
Enemy agent Janos Passik is preparing to train 200 foreign agents to infiltrate the U.S. and engage in some form of bacteriological warfare. The team figures out that Passik has created a replica of a "typical American town" so as to train his agents to learn how to blend into American society. Rollin, Cinnamon, Barney, and bacteriologist Roger Lee replace the new group of recruits and must then find their way to the research lab. They soon realize that the American-trained agents will be infected with a highly contagious plague and then sent into American to kill millions. The group must not only destroy the plague samples but make sure that Passik and his superiors do not find out that the destruction was deliberate.

One of the things that interested me most in the show was the infiltration role given to Cinnamon played by Barbara Bain. She is seen practising to be a go-go dancer for her role in the Tiger A-Go-Go in Philadelphia. We see her learning to go-go dance in a club called the Congo Room in the phoney US town. She is seen wearing regulation go-go gear and could have stepped out of Hullabaloo! What intrigued me was the use of the name Congo Room. I suppose the choice would seem appropriate to makers of the series in that the Communist agent would be looking for obvious examples of degenerate of Western culture. What better than using the name of the famous Las Vegas club in the Sahara Hotel.

The name Congo is a fanciful allusion to a mythical Congo and has given its name to everything from chocolate bars to songs and clubs. Perhaps someone thought that it sounded exotic and harks back to "Congo Square"in New Orleans. In the 19th Century, the square was a gathering in New Orleans for both free and enslaved African-Americans to meet for marketing, music-making, and dancing.

The name Congo originally derives from the name for the ancient Kingdom of Kongo. The Kingdom of Kongo was an African kingdom located in west central Africa in what are now northern Angola, Cabinda, Republic Of The Congo and the western portion of the Democratic Republic Of The Congo. The name was also given to one of Africa's largest rivers.The Congo is also the name for a cylindrical Caribbean drum with double skins introduced to Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago as well as being the name of a cylindrical drum found in the Dominican Republic.

Congo River

The producers of Mission Impossible must have had the famous Las Vegas club based in the Sahara Hotel in mind when they made the series.The Sahara Hotel and Casino is located on the Las Vegas strip. The Moroccan-themed hotel has 1,720 rooms and a casino covering more than 85,000 square feet and sits on 55 acres including the empty adjoining land. The Sahara is the last remaining "Rat Pack" hotel, and is the northernmost resort on the east side of the Strip. The hotel was opened in 1952 by Milton Prell just outside of the City of Las Vegas, and was the sixth resort to open on the Strip. The resort was built by Del Webb. In late 1954, the hotel hired jazz musician Louis Prima to be their late night lounge act, one of the earliest ones on the strip. Along with his then wife Keely Smith and sax player and sax player Sam Butera, they created one of the hottest latenight attractions on the Strip.

In 1961, the hotel was purchased by Del Webb. In 1962, The hotel became known for featuring top performers over the years, including Tina Turner, the Beatles, Johnny Carson, and Ann-Margret. Fast forward to today, there is certainly no shortage of exceptional entertainment available at the Sahara Las Vegas Theatre, the Casbar Lounge and the Congo Room at the Sahara Vegas.

I decided to use the Twistin' Kings "Congo Pts 1 & 2" to go with the post. This is a real tittyshaker and features in Mr Fine Wine's top 10 of tittyshakers! I thought the sleazy little number went well with the club featured in Mission Impossible and you can just imagine girls geting on stage to do their thing to the music of the Twistin' Kings. I am no expert but I assume the drums which can be heard in the instrumental are "congo" drums.

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