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.

The Dominion Post showed up for our farewell party and final band practice and wrote a very nice article – you can read it here (there’s video, too):

Drum band kicked out of community hall over neighbour’s noise complaints

A Brazilian drum band that regularly plays at street parties and the Wellington Sevens has been ejected from its rehearsal rooms for being too noisy.

Wellington Batucada have rehearsed at Thistle Hall in upper Cuba St for 15 years, but noise complaints from a couple living in a neighbouring apartment have forced Wellington City Council to permanently eject them.

Sunday afternoon was the percussion band’s swansong in the historic council-owned building that has housed their weekly practices since 2001. Their ejection has prompted concerns about growing clashes between the capital’s arts scene and its inner-city residents.

“One of the things that makes Wellington great is its community, arts and music, and Cuba St is where this all happens,” Batucada member Alison Green said on Sunday…

Deirdre Mussen, Dominion Post, 1 May 2016

Final band practice at Thistle Hall - photo by David White, Dominion Post

Final band practice at Thistle Hall – photo by David White, Dominion Post

Thistle Hall – we love you, and we’re really gonna miss you. Thanks for all the good times and the great memories.

PS More stuff (02/05/16 update)

So – this sad story of ours has been gaining quite a bit of traction in the media and on social media over the last day or so.

The Stuff story went up on Sunday afternoon (awesomely speedy work, Deirdre Mussen!). On Monday morning, we made the front page of the Dom Post. Nice!

On Monday afternoon Alan was interviewed on Radio NZ: Wgtn community band kicked out of inner city practice space

Take a look at the comments on the Stuff story too – overwhelmingly in our favour, which is great to see. Here are a couple of examples:

There should be different noise control limits in the CBD. They should favour the many over the few. Cities are and should be noisy. That’s part of the appeal. There are quiet suburbs all over Wellington, Hutt and Porirua where you can have tight noise control policies and people can fairly expect quiet. The Wellington CDB is not a place that you should be able to compain about a loud band. Especially on a Sunday afternoon. Even at 2am I would have thought city noise would be expected. Please change the rules.
Jvv

Once a week, that is like complaining about the speedway…. I think it is disappointing how longstanding participants can be kicked to the curb by “I didn’t know and I don’t like it”…
BlueKiwi16

you buy an apartment in the city central and complain when their is noise?
burnt

especially above Thistle hall for gods sake. Numpties. Batucada are a fantastic asset to the Wellington cultural scene so I hope they can be welcomed somewhere and continue!
Madanz

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if you choose to buy next to a community hall, there will be noise occasionally. But this is a typical selfish attitude – their desire for silence is more important than the enjoyment of hundreds (thousands?) of others who benefit from this band.
If the noise is that offensive, the couple in the apartment could always go for a walk every Sunday afternoon and enjoy the different sights that Wellington has to offer. I’m assuming that the band practices at the same time every week?
Kelly1982

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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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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

Wellington Rugby Sevens 2016

Superheroes ahoy! (again)

Batucada superheroes at the stadium - Wellington Sevens 2016 - photo by Alan ShukerIt was a slightly different year for the Sevens. No city centre parade this year (we love the Sevens Parade because it always gets such huge crowds – plus we always have such fun drumming the players into Civic Square).

Never mind – the theme this year was Superpowers Unleashed, so we all got dressed up in our superhero costumes again (we’ve done that theme for the Sevens before) and headed off to Thistle Hall to get picked up by bus and taken to the stadium.

This year they decided they wanted us to play twice on both days, but only on the walkway approaching the stadium, rather than doing a parade all the way along the waterfront. We missed giving a big old wave to all the costumed partygoers at all the establishments along the waterfront, but had a great time parading up and down the walkway in our costumes. It was a wee bit windy, but also a wee bit sunny, which is what you want when you’re drumming. Continue reading

Wellington Footvolley Championship 2016

Batucada goes to the seaside

Footvolley 2016 - front row - photo by Roger HendersonIt’s been a couple of years since we played at the Footvolley Championship at Oriental Bay, so we were happy to get the opportunity to perform again this year.

Gorgeous day (the Summer of 2016 will long go down in Wellington history as some of the best sustained sunshiny weather in years) and a good crowd watching the athletes doing their crazy football-crossed-with-volleyball gymnastics on the beach. Continue reading

Wellington Santa Parade 2015

Tinsel and starry hats in the summer sun

Wellington Santa Parade 2015 - Paquita & Christian - photo by Alan ShukerLisa’s instructions for costuming were “Red or green T-shirts to match the Christmassy theme, plus whatever Christmas-related pimpimg you want to do on your drums, heads and hats”.

Some people took this more seriously than others – particularly Paquita who turned up wearing the most amazing starry headdress I’ve ever seen. Awesome!

Such a beautiful sunny day, the crowds were enormous (70,000 they said), we were pretty awesome (and oh so modest!) and Tess (surdo #3), Charlotte (caixa) and Shelly (surdo #2) all played their first gig. Great stuff! Continue reading

Hastings Blossom Festival 2015

Or, how to freeze your sticks off at a “spring” festival

Hastings Blossom Festival 2015 - team photo by Alan ShukerHastings was unseasonably cool this year. Actually, let’s be honest – it was BLIMMIN FREEZING.

The overall theme was “Great Things Grow Here” so we decided that floral hats and other accoutrements would be the order of the day. About half the band got dressed up in their best floral attire, which looked great. Continue reading