Performing for 100,000 people – and the All Blacks!
On Tuesday morning I was vaguely wondering where I should stand to watch the All Blacks victory parade in Wellington the following day, when an unexpected BatMail from Caroline arrived in my inbox.
Subject: URGENT RESPONSE REQUIRED!!! BATUCADA IN THE TICKERTAPE PARADE TOMORROW!!!
The email began with “Good morning everyone and whoopdeedooo!!!” and closed with “DRUMMERS ONLY if you are keen and available for this please email pronto as please with YES YES YES TO THE ABS PARADE in the subject line.”
Yup – Wellington Batucada had been invited to perform in the All Blacks Rugby World Cup 2011 victory parade. We’d be playing in what would turn out to be Wellington’s biggest ever event of its kind, and I went a little weak at the knees at the prospect. Whoopdeedooo all right!
By the end of the day Caroline had more than 40 YES YES YES TO THE ABS PARADE emails in her inbox (not bad for less than a day’s notice) and we were all set.
The day dawned, it was windy and beginning to rain, but I don’t think anyone who was planning to be in central Welli that day minded one bit. We were there to cheer the mighty All Blacks and to get a glimpse of the World Cup trophy and to share in the joy of winning it again after 24 years. It was going to be HUGE!
Memories of the parade
- Having gathered near the entrance of Capital E, sheltering under the sail to keep ourselves dry before kick-off, we were right next to the steps where the All Blacks made their entrance into Civic Square. Awesome! We jumped up and down, cheered them all as they made their way up the steps, called their names and waved frantically, and Richie waved the cup in our general direction and smiled. Yeehaaar!
- Wondering how on earth they were going to get all 40 of us through the crowds in Civic Square and inside the barriers to take up our position in the parade, and being very impressed with the way the volunteers and organisers gently escorted us through the throngs of people and into line.
- Walking past the final ute to get to our place just in front of it, looking up and seeing Richie McCaw holding the cup, Piri Weepu, Brad Thorn, Mils Muliaina and Ma’a Nonu standing beside him, with Graham Henry and Wayne Smith up at the front grinning like Cheshire Cats. We were this close!
- The enormous number of people lining the route from Civic Square to Parliament – 10 deep in many places – all singing and dancing and cheering, waving flags and home-made banners, all unbelievably excited to be part of this little piece of history. And all of us grinning like loonies as we marched and played ahead of that final ute, knowing that we were on the biggest stage of our lives, and loving every minute of it. 100,000 people – that’s half the population of Wellington – and the All Blacks too. What an experience!
- About halfway along the parade route, as the crowds pushed ever-closer to see their heroes and our progress slowed to crawl, we caught up with the ute in front of us, on which, amongst others, stood Ali Williams. Well, when I say “stood”, he wasn’t actually standing still, he was dancing – to us! Cool! Darren was directing us and turned to see Ali getting his groove on, so he walked up to the back of the ute and handed Ali his drumstick, motioning him to take over directing duties for a while. Awesome! I doubt if Darren will ever part with that particular drumstick. I wonder if he sleeps with it under his pillow. Tee hee.
- Looking up at one point to see dozens and dozens of people looking down on us from the roof terrace of one of Wellington’s many tall buildings, waving and cheering as the All Blacks passed by. Nudging Angie who was playing caixa next to me, so that she would look up and see them too. There literally wasn’t a spare seat in the house that day.
- Marching through the gates of Parliament and seeing the slopes of the Parliament grounds absolutely covered with thousands of fans, all cheering and yelling for their team – and then coming round the corner up the steep pathway towards the Beehive and gulping as the view opened up before us, the slopes on either side of the path crammed with people, the Beehive behind them, its balconies also filled with cheering onlookers, and everyone’s going completely mental as they catch their first glimpse of the final ute behind us…
What a day!
Here’s some of the media coverage:
– and check out the video All Blacks celebration hits Wellington – you can hear us from 1:42 onwards and you get a little glimpse of us drumming behind Ali William’s float at 2:51.
12.22pm: I just got a pat on the head from Graham Henry – he said it was “going great”. The ticker tape is flowing. The band Batacuda has now started up and the noise is deafening.
12.33pm: There are no barriers on Willis St and the crowd is pushing up against the trailers as people clamour to touch the All Blacks. It’s pretty intense. There are barriers on Lambton Quay where the last truck is turning into.
The three girls who lined up from 8.30am are still on their bench. Alicia Murden said she stared into the eyes of Israel Dagg. Maddie Barnett said she touched Dan Carter and screamed with excitement.
The crowd is going crazy and dancing to Batucada.
Dominion Post, 26 October 2011
The players were towed from Civic Square on five black trailers emblazoned with the words “Thank You New Zealand”.
Local hero Piri Weepu, clutching his one-year-old daughter Keira, danced to Brazilian drummers Batucada then grabbed a microphone to perform as the impromptu “MC Piri Weeps”.
“We love you Wellington,” he shouted.
Dominion Post, 27 October 2011
You can hear us from 1:26 onwards and we’re featured at 1:34 for a few seconds. W00t!
TV3 video, 26 October 2011
We’re in this one as well – also at 1:34. Don’t we look happy!
TV3 video, 26 October 2011
Check out the RAW VIDEO: All Blacks victory parade – you can hear us through quite a lot of it – from 1:26 onwards, from 2:54 onwards, from 3:37 onwards, playing samba from 5:26 onwards and samba reggae from 5:59 onwards.
TVNZ video, 26 October 2011