CLT Bongo Babies Brings Heart for Drumming Movement Closer to Home

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CLT Bongo Babies, a free bi-weekly playgroup for toddlers, began in October of 2019 after the owner, Dara Buck, had been inspired by a trip she took to Asheville, North Carolina years ago. “My husband and I love Asheville, which is where I was kind of inspired to create a community drum circle because we went there on one of our first getaways as a couple a few years back. I just always had this idea, this dream to bring a drum circle and try to create that sense of community in Charlotte, but life happened. We got married, had kids…but then when I became a stay-at-home mom that fire within me for that sense of community continued to grow so I was like, you know what? I’m just going to buy a few drums off of Amazon and make a Facebook post about it and see what happens!”

And what happened next could only be described as an amazing outpouring of support, new friendships, and families connecting. With their first event held at Freedom Park, they had about 15 children and adults in attendance, all of them thrilled at being able to take part in a drumming circle, marching around and shaking their sillies out. “That very first event was like wow, I didn’t even expect that! Then the second event it doubled in size and I realized wow, this is actually going to be a thing that I started,” Dara excitedly shared.

But as the weather began to get colder, she had to search for an indoor space to be able to continue having the free classes that had become so popular. That’s when she once again used Facebook to help with her search and reached out to the owners of UpLevel in Ballantyne, who welcomed CLT Bongo Babies with open arms. “Uplevel and the way that they always seem to come together as a community for us, and so many others, really set the standard for me to believe that I can do that for our own group of parents/caregivers and toddlers, too.”

And with the huge support from parents and local businesses, the interest and love just continued to grow. Families just couldn’t get enough of the sense of community and be able to have a place for their toddlers to explore and happily bang on a few drums. Parents, like Andrea Simcik, were so excited and thrilled to finally have a judgment-free, safe space for kids to just be themselves. “My son and I love Bongo Babies! We always have such a wonderful time making music, dancing around, playing and meeting all of the wonderful people that attend these events!” 

Now, on the Fridays that they are not having their drum circle in Ballantyne, CLT Bongo Babies offers the opportunity to host private events, like mom groups and birthday parties. 

So, what’s next for Dara and her passion project? “I feel like the sky is literally the limit right now! It’s just humbling to be a part of this. It is a surreal experience. It just really opens your eyes to the way the world should be and could be. I just wanted to create that space where people could come and feel loved, welcomed. I feel like from the response so far that I have created that and that just makes me so happy.”

If you’d like to support the CLT Bongo Babies and help to keep it a “free event” for their little drummers, you can purchase a Bongo Babies T-shirt and/or make a donation by visiting their Facebook page. The funds raised will go directly to housekeeping expenses like upkeep/sanitation of the drums and for a few new drums or other instruments to add to the collection.

Parents and caregivers of any kind, and their toddlers (5 years old and younger), are welcomed to join CLT Bongo Babies, to learn, grow and play together in rhythm! 

CLT Bongo Babies is located at UpLevel Martial Arts Ballantyne, 16131 Lancaster Highway, Charlotte NC  28277 – Classes take place every other Friday (please check our event schedule). You must register for your free spot by visiting their Facebook Events page at: can also follow them on Instagram: @Clt_BongoBabies

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