How to become part of Wellington Batucada

Wellington Batucada is for everyone, regardless of experience. We have a range of authentic Brazilian instruments that beginners are welcome to use and we encourage people to come and check us out at one of our regular Sunday rehearsals.

Batucada BeatThe band rehearses for two hours every Sunday from 3pm to 5pm.

Our new rehearsal space is in the Lower Gym at Wellington High School, 251 Taranaki Street. The entrance to the gym is on Hill Lane, off Taranaki Street by the zebra crossing.

You are welcome to come and watch rehearsals, but in order to become a member, drummers must participate in our beginners’ classes.

Beginners’ drum classes

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.

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.

You’re welcome to stick around and listen to the main rehearsal after each class – and we encourage our beginners to do this, as it gives you an idea of our choreography and our range of rhythms, patterns and breaks before you actually have to play them!


The full 8-week course costs just $80, paid in advance.

If it’s too much of a hardship to pay the full $80 up front, please contact us to arrange weekly payments of $15 per session.

There’s also a special price of $20 for current Batucada members who either want to do the beginners’ course again as a revision exercise or for extra practice, or who want to try out a new instrument.

Registering your interest in the course

We generally get an influx of interest following our performances at Newtown Fair, the Pride Parade, and CubaDupa – if this is you – welcome! This is the place to be for people interested in joining the band.

Please register your interest by filling in the form on this page. We will add you to our list of participants and email you with all the info. Once the course is in progress we will also send out a weekly beginner’s group email to keep you up-to-date with Wellington Batucada news.

Batucada Taster Day – Sunday 27 May 2018

This year’s beginners’ course will begin with a special Batucada Taster Day on Sunday 27 May from 3pm to 4pm (and beyond). This session is free for anyone who’s thinking about doing this year’s course.

You will be watching the main band for the first hour of their normal 2-hour rehearsal, getting an idea of the different instruments, what they sound like and how they are played. We will have band members from each section available at 4pm to answer questions and show you the instruments up close.

Batucada beginners’ course – June-July 2018

The beginners’ course will be held every Sunday from 1pm to 3pm, starting on Sunday June 10. Dates and venue are as follows:

Date Time Venue
Taster Day – Sunday 27 May 3pm to 4pm Lower Gym, Wellington High School
Sunday 10 June 1pm to 3pm Lower Gym, Wellington High School
Sunday 17 June 1pm to 3pm Lower Gym, Wellington High School
Sunday 24 June 1pm to 3pm Lower Gym, Wellington High School
Sunday 1 July 1pm to 3pm Lower Gym, Wellington High School
Sunday 8 July 1pm to 3pm Cook Island Hall, Newtown
Sunday 15 July 1pm to 3pm Lower Gym, Wellington High School
Sunday 22 July 1pm to 3pm Cook Island Hall, Newtown
Sunday 29 July 1pm to 3pm Lower Gym, Wellington High School

Our Sunday rehearsals

Wellington Batucada rehearses every Sunday from 3pm to 5pm. Drummers and dancers sometimes rehearse separately for the first hour and then come together for the second hour.

Once you have completed the 8-week beginners’ course, if you decide you’d like to join Wellington Batucada, you will begin attending main rehearsals with the rest of the band.

Beginners’ dance classes

Wellington Batucada has a dedicated dance troupe, in addition to our drummers, and each of our performance pieces incorporates a choreographed dance sequence that matches the drumming pattern. We run 6-week blocks of beginners’ dance classes every six months or so, and all are welcome, regardless of experience – even if you’ve NEVER danced before!

Our dance directors Arawhetu Berdinner and Hillary Reid covers the basics of samba dance, guiding you through our dance moves and choreography, all of which are linked to the various rhythms, patterns and breaks played by the drummers. The workshops include dancing to rhythms played by the Batucada band, which gives aspiring Wellington Batucada dancers the opportunity to get their groove on to live drumming right from the start.

The full 6-week block of beginners’ dance classes costs just $80, or $15 per session, with a special price of $20 for current Batucada members. We send out a beginner’s group email each week to keep you up-to-date with our Wellington Batucada news.

Becoming a member

Once you have completed the beginners’ classes, we will invite you to become a full member of Wellington Batucada. Membership is $35 per year for both drummers and dancers.

Members only: Fill in our annual membership form online.

We send out a group email each week to all our members to keep you informed about gigs, rehearsals and any other news we need to share with you. We also provide our members with a PDF copy of our instrumental patterns book, which shows the musical notation for each of our rhythms and pattern variations for all our instruments – very useful for practicing at home!

Performing with Wellington Batucada

Generally known as earning your uniform – but also known as earning your trousers!

Everyone is different. Some people arrive at Wellington Batucada with absolutely zero experience in playing any kind of instrument, while others may already have musical skills or previous drumming and/or dance experience. If you’ve started from scratch it may take a little longer, and if you’re already an accomplished musician or dancer it may be a bit quicker, but on average once you’ve been with us for 6-12 months you will probably feel ready to perform with the band.

Getting signed-off to perform

When you’re ready to perform (and there’s no set time period – it’s when you are ready) you can ask one of our directors to watch you playing or dancing during a rehearsal. They will assess your ability and look at whether you know the rhythms, breaks and choreography well enough to perform and whether you can keep up with the speed at which we play.

At the end of the rehearsal they will give you their feedback and tell you whether they think you’ve reached the standard needed to perform. Some people get signed-off at their first attempt, and for others the directors may recommend that you spend a bit more time practicing before inviting them to re-assess you.

This assessment process allows us to retain our “everyone welcome” philosophy while ensuring that our performances reach the required standard of excellence.

Uniforms for drummers

We’ve had a few different official Batucada uniforms – initially we had one white, one black – consisting of a t-shirt or singlet and a pair of trousers. White uniforms were usually worn for day performances, and black ones at night. Then we changed to a single black uniform that we wore all the time. More recently we’ve updated again to multicoloured T-shirts (you can choose between red, blue, green or yellow, or buy all four if you want) and your own choice of white trousers, shorts, skirt or capri pants. Once you’ve been signed off you can buy the official T-shirts, the cost of which is subsidised by Wellington Batucada to keep prices affordable for everyone. Uniforms are mandatory for all performances.

Sevens Parade 2010

Leading the Sevens Parade, 4 February 2010
Photo by Lance Andrewes

For special occasions, such as the Cuba Street Carnival or CubaDupa, we make additional costume elements such as headdresses, capes and wristbands which add to the spectacle.

Wellington Batucada at the Cuba Street Carnival

Cuba Street Carnival, 22 February 2009
Photo by Murray Short

Uniforms for dancers

The official Wellington Batucada uniform for dancers consists of a white top, singlet or T-shirt printed with the Batucada logo – plus a multicoloured flowing skirt for women and white trousers for men. You provide your own top in whatever style you like, and we will get it printed for you.

Wellington Batucada at the 2011 Hastings Blossom Festival

Wellington Batucada at the 2011 Hastings Blossom Festival
Photo by Geoff Infield

Our dancers generally get together for a sewing bee to make new costumes every year or so, often to coincide with a big event such as the Wellington Sevens, the Cuba Street Carnival or the Rugby World Cup. The cost is subsidised by Wellington Batucada to keep prices affordable for everyone. Uniforms are mandatory for all performances.

Our general-purpose uniform is quite modest by samba standards, but for special occasions, such as the Cuba Street Carnival, we make costumes that are much closer to Brazilian-style carnaval – and therefore somewhat more revealing.

Batucada dancers at Cuba Street Carnival 2009

Batucada dancers at Cuba Street Carnival 2009
Photos by Chandima, Michael Edge-Perkins and Andrew Gorrie

We also have a range of other Wellington Batucada official clothing for sale to members, including Batucada t-shirts, sweatshirts and zipped hoodies.