Batucada Blog

Farewell to Thistle Hall

The end of an era

Day of the Dead Wellington Batucada team photo. By Alan Shuker

Batucada at Thistle Hall, dressed up in our Day of The Dead costumes, ready for CubaDupa 2016

It’s been our home and our heart for 15 years, but today we had to say goodbye to Thistle Hall – our headquarters at the top of Cuba Street in Wellington (the Coolest Little Capital in the world).

We’ve had a thousand and one band practices at Thistle Hall, got dressed up for many a Sevens gig, prepared for CubaDupa and Cuba Street Carnival there, said farewell to our dear friend Sanny there, stored all our gear, held get-togethers and parties, meetings and AGMs, learned together and played together and shared our love of music together, laughed and cried and drummed and danced there.

Batucada superheroes at Thistle Hall - Wellington Sevens 2016

Batucada superheroes at Thistle Hall – Wellington Sevens 2016

We don’t know where we’re going to end up – our needs are somewhat specialised – we need space to rehearse, a wooden floor to dance on, storage space for our drums, disabled access, some kind of cooling system (drumming is hot work!), not too expensive (we’re a self-sustaining voluntary community group), heaps of parking space, loos and water, inner city if possible – and of course, somewhere where we can drum for 2 hours on a Sunday afternoon and make a reasonable amount of noise without annoying the neighbours.

2015 Sevens waterfront parade day 1 - family photo by Alan Shuker

Steampunk Batucada family photo outside Thistle Hall, ready to play at the Wellington Sevens 2015

Our short-term temporary home until we find somewhere more suitable will be Community Music Junction, Level 1, 4 Hopper Street. As it’s carpeted our dancers can’t dance there without risk of injury, so we hope we’ll be able to find somewhere else really soon. We really don’t want to be separated from our beautiful dancers any longer than is absolutely necessary.

If you know of anywhere that might be suitable, or have any ideas, please contact us at wellingtonbatucada@gmail.com or call Lisa on 021 112 1619.

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Relay for Life 2016

Celebrate cancer survivors and carers; remember loved ones lost to cancer; and fight back by raising awareness and funds to support the work of the Cancer Society

Relay for Life 2016 - Tim G and the tams - photo by ReFocus PhotographyWe’ve been taking part in the Wellington Cancer Society Relay for Life for a few years now, and we’re always very honoured to be asked back. This year was no exception.

A beautiful day, hundreds of cancer survivors, supporters and their families, with Wellington Batucada dancers and drummers all set to lead the crowd around the first lap of Frank Kitts Park.

Once the speeches were over and the event officially launched, it was our job to parade around the outer edge of Frank Kitts in celebration of the first of many (many) laps that would be completed by participants over the next 24 hours. Tim G did a great job of directing, and Sarah did an equally great job of leading the dancers. It was her first outing as dance leader, and they all looked fabulous, so well done all.

Relay for Life is always an amazing event, full of hope and positivity as well as remembrance and sadness for those lost to cancer, and we feel privileged to be a part of it. Continue reading

Scots College Centenary – staff celebration

A supa-sekrit surprise gig to help staff celebrate 100 years of Scots

We gathered just down from the St James Theatre just before 8pm, keeping well out of view of the main doors, so as not to spoil the surprise. None of the staff at the school’s centenary celebration party knew we were coming, which made the whole thing extra fun.

At a signal from the school organiser, we struck up the band with Samba reggae and made our way up towards the theatre entrance, drumming as we went. We had a whole heap of Batucada dancers with us, which was brilliant – they all looked so beautiful in their white CubaDupa skirts, and they led the way into the St James.

The crowd parted as we made our way inside, and lined up either side of us as we played. The dancers were up at the front, surrounded by trees covered in sparkling fairy lights. They looked amazing! Continue reading

CubaDupa 2016 – day 2

Mass samba madness in the tropical heat

In which 150+ samba drummers and dancers from across NZ (and Oz!) get together and drum our little sox off in the Mass Samba Bloco Super CubaDupa Extravaganza (thing).

Mass rehearsal

CubaDupa day 2 - rehearsal in full swing - photo by Alan ShukerStill on a huge buzz from the night before, we began CubaDupa day 2 with a mass rehearsal at Mt Cook School. It’s an amazing feeling rehearsing with a bazillion of your fellow sambistas from across New Zealand (and Oz!) – such a powerful sound.

The bloco was sorted into sections, just like at normal band practice, with members of the different samba groups all mixed up together in each section. It’s great to spend some time rehearsing and playing with members of other samba groups – it gives you a wider perspective on what you play. All the pieces we were playing in the mass samba jam were from Sambanui (which means we all know them) plus (from London School of Samba) Fred’s original samba, which we also all know. Continue reading

CubaDupa 2016 – day 1

Drumming in my skull – Day of the Dead stylee

There’s something about Cuba Street that brings out the best, and the coolest, and the weirdest, and the most magical, and the most creative, and the downright awesomest. That’s why CubaDupa is so blimmin’ wonderful, and why it’s one of our favourite weekends of the year.

Day of the Dead Wellington Batucada team photo. By Alan Shuker

Once again we brought our fellow sambisatas from around the country to join us for the weekend. We were thrilled to share Wellington’s funkiest street with AKSamba (Auckland), Bay Batucada (Hawkes Bay), Sambatron/Tauranga Samba (Hamilton/Tauranga), and Samba del Sol (Nelson) – and this year for the first time we also hosted members of our extended family from across the ditch – O’Zirigidum from Melbourne. Welcome, sports!

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It’s CubaDupa time!

Our favourite Cuba Street-based festival of the year 🙂

Day of the Dead top hat and drumsticks, ready for CubaDupaNo really – we love CubaDupa with a passion. Last year’s inaugural event was spectacular, and fabulous, and wonderful, and a little bit magical – and we’re expecting great things again this year. Woohoo!

Check out the CubaDupa website – and here’s the CubaDupa map and performance schedule (PDF) for you to download.

Once again we’ve brought together our samba school family from around the country – watch out for performances all over Cuba Street over the weekend by AKSamba (Auckland), Bay Batucada (Hawkes Bay), Sambatron/Tauranga Samba (Hamilton/Tauranga), Samba del Sol (Nelson) and O’Ziriguidum all the way from Oz – as well as Wellington Batucada. It’s gonna be massive!

…and on Sunday it’ll be even massiver (yeah, it’s a word!) with the Carnival Bloco Mass Jam – 150-odd drummers and dancers doing their samba thang through the streets and alleyways of central Wellington, finishing up on the Swan Dancehall Stage (hoping we can all fit on!) for our grand finale. Continue reading

Mt Cook School Gala 2016

The second of two gigs in one day – busy busy!

It was a busy old day today – the Love Parade down on the waterfront in the morning, and Mt Cook School Gala in the afternoon.

We sneaked away from the speeches at Out In The Park and made our way up through town to Mt Cook School. This a great annual gig for us. The school is fabulous – right in the heart of the city – and for the last couple of years they have very kindly allowed us to use their magnificent school hall for our CubaDupa mass samba rehearsal. This is our opportunity to say thanks and to give something back to our local community. Continue reading

Out In The Park – Love Parade 2016

What a lovely day for a Love Parade

The Love Parade, Out In The Park 2016 - photo by Amanduh LaIn 2016 the Pride Parade celebrated the 30th anniversary of the passing of the Homosexual Law Reform Act in New Zealand. Queer and queer-friendly groups, organisations and individuals came together and took to the streets to celebrate our community.

Wellington Batucada were pleased and honoured to be asked to lead the parade this year. Continue reading

Newtown Fair 2016

Fun in the sun on the streets of Newtown

Newtown Fair 2016 - dancers - photo by Paul TaylorI was struck by how many people came and talked to me as I wandered through the Fair earlier in the day, enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of Newtown. Easy to spot in my giant red hat and red Batucada T-shirt, I was constantly being stopped and asked “What time are you guys playing? I can’t wait to see you!”.

People really LOVE us – and for many, we complete their Newtown experience in an all-drumming, all-dancing way that they look forward to every year. I think that’s pretty awesome – and it was really nice to be reminded of that fact in such an immediate way. Continue reading

Island Bay Festival parade 2016

From the streets to the waterfont

Island Bay Festival Parade 2016 - arriving at Island Bay Park - photo by Alan ShukerIt was a beautiful day for the 2016 Island Bay Festival parade. Sunny, no wind, and a happy bunch of drummers ready and eager to play. Exciting times for both Kat and Gina – their first gig! Woop! Woop! Well done guys – you did great.

We took Dr Phill’s amazing parrots out for a swoop – we haven’t used them since CubaDupa last year when they featured as part of our Amazoniaotearoa theme. Got a bit hysterical with laughter when I found out that Christian had been bopped on the head by the parrot carried by Shane – I’m sure it was an accident, Christian!

The main street down to the waterfront was lined with spectators and we had a great time parading down to the park. Once there we played for while longer, accompanied once again by the parrots. Christian stood well back 🙂 Continue reading