The Menagerie Variety Show

Fun and frolics on-stage at the Opera House

Practising our active bitch faces for serious dancing (2) - photo by Sarah JaneThe last time we were on-stage at the Opera House was for the DANZdance20 gig back in 2013 – so it’s been a while.

25 drummers and 10 dancers from Batucada took to the stage for The Menagerie Variety Show – invited as the “intermission entertainment” – and a brilliant time was had by all.

It was a long day – beginning with a stage walk-through at 3pm. It’s always reassuring to be able to experience the stage and plan how you’re going to get on and off before you do a big gig like this one – and producer extraordinaire Rachel Rouge and her team made sure that every one of the multiple acts in this fabulous Variety Show were able to do just that.

The Opera House is such a beautiful old building – a perfectly grand and decorative old-fashioned theatre – with a veritable rabbit warren of dressing rooms on multiple levels behind the scenes. When you reach the bottom of the many flights of stairs from your dressing room you step through the door from the light-filled stairwell into a dimly-lit and cavernous backstage area. It’s another world.

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Batucada beginners’ drumming course starts 10 June 2018

Learn samba drumming with Wellington Batucada!

Tamborims and agogos onstage at CubaDupa 2018

Once a year we run an 8-week block of beginners’ drumming classes. These are held on Sundays from 1pm to 3pm, before our regular band practice.

Our next Batucada beginners’ drumming course begins 10 June 2018.

Overview of the course

This is an opportunity learn the basic techniques and patterns on a number of instruments and cover the rhythms of Brazil including samba, samba reggae and merengue. You will be guided by our directors Darryn Sigley and Tim Cooke into the wonderful world of samba, and we aim to have at least one experienced Batucada member supervising each section so that whatever instrument you’re playing, there’s someone there to help you.

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CubaDupa 2018 – day 1

Or…how to stop the rain at the perfect moment through sheer force of will

We adore CubaDupa. In the four short years that it’s been running it has become one of the best festivals on Wellington’s annual calendar, and it’s one that we put a huge amount of effort into in terms of costuming and trying out new performance pieces.

Highlights of our main stage performance.
Video footage by John Conly and Michael Sloley, compiled by Michael Sloley.

This year we did two things we’ve never done before. We designed our own patterned fabric especially for CubaDupa and made our own costumes with it; and we introduced two fabulous singers into the mix – Alda Rezende and Nikkie Rich – who sang traditional Brazilian songs while we accompanied them on our drums.

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Newtown Fair 2018

Drumming and dancing in the sun

What a beautiful day for a mad drumming and dancing session through Newtown. A perfect (actually, incredibly hot) day in the middle of The Best Summer Ever – and here we all are at the Newtown Fair, one of our favourite gigs of the year.

We had a ton of first-time performers with us for this gig, as the band is busy preparing for CubaDupa. We’re giving our most recent intake of drummers the opportunity to get a bit of parade practice in before the night parade down Cuba Street in a couple of weekend’s time. Exciting!

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Lions Tour, July 2017 – All Blacks game

Oh the excitement and the heartache

Lions Tour 2017 - All Blacks game gig 1, the dancers, the band and the big screen - photo by John Bosomworth

In addition to our gig on Tuesday night for the Hurricanes game, we were also asked to double down for the All Blacks game on Saturday with a total of five gigs, spread throughout the day and into the evening. Of course we said yes.

Wellington Batucada perform for the Lions Tour – playing Samba. Video by John Bosomworth.

Whereas the weather for the ‘Canes game had been really quite friendly for a winter’s evening – cold but not too cold, no wind, no rain (fantastic!) It was an altogether different story on Saturday night. Wellington served up a hefty dose of seriously crappy weather – cold, windy, and rather a lot of rain. Oh joy!

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Mary Potter Hospice street appeal 2017

Warming up Cuba Street for a good cause

Mary Potter street appeal 2017 - the dancers doing their thing - photo by Deborah ShukerOn a freezing cold day in May, Batucada drummers and dances warmed up Cuba Street with our rhythms and beats. We were taking part in the Mary Potter Hospice street appeal once again, and a great time was had by all.

A week or so later we received this lovely message from the Mary Potter Hospice:

Thank you so very much for volunteering your time for our Mary Potter Hospice Street Collection. … You will be happy to hear we raised $84,762 over the two days of our Street Collection. We really couldn’t do it without this support – so thank you!!

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Race Relations Day 2017

Celebrating Wellington’s cultural diversity

On-stage at Race Relations Day 2017 - photo by Deborah ShukerWe began Race Relations Day with a short performance on Wellington’s beautiful waterfront to warm us all up. We gathered quite a crowd, which was brilliant because the point of the exercise was to lead them into Shed 6 where the event was taking place.

After the formal speeches and welcomes, the festival had organised for Wellington performance groups from a whole range of different cultural backgrounds to each do a short performance on the main stage.

Wellington Batucada was one of the first groups on-stage, and we had a wonderful time. Thanks heaps to the organisers for inviting us to this inaugural event – may you have many more!

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Island Bay Festival parade 2017

What a lovely day for a parade!

Island Bay Festival parade 2017 - Tim C leads the band - photo by Alan ShukerOur second gig of the year so far, and quite a reasonable turn-out, including some lovely faces who we haven’t seen for a while – hello Shelly and Kat! It’s good to see you again!

The sun shone, and the wind did not make an appearance (which was quite fabulous, considering that this summer has been, so far, The Worst Summer Ever, weather-wise).

Tim C did the honours with the directing, and challenged us with (I think) our first live performance of Timbalada, which went pretty well.

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100 Days to the Paralympics

Wellington Batucada teaches paralympians how to samba

Wellington Batucada at Paralympics New Zealand's '100 Days To Go' event at Te Papa - dancers, paralympians and schoolkids - photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images for Paralympics New ZealandA small and select group from Wellington Batucada helped celebrate 100 Days to the Paralympics at Te Papa. Great fun was had by all.

We started filtering through the doors of Te Papa around 11:30 and waited for the rest of the band to arrive. As we waited, the Brazilian Embassy delegation arrived and, as always, Eduardo (the ambassador) showed his charm and general cool dude tendencies by stopping by to say hello to his adopted community samba group. Continue reading

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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