MIA Latin Festival

The Batucada laydeez kick some ass!

MIA Latin festival 2012 - photo by Phil Ansell

The Festival celebrates the Latin culture through live performances, art & crafts and traditional food stalls, games and children’s activities. As the Festival is organised by the Latin American Women’s Group, we thought it would be a nice idea to send along an all-female version of Wellington Batucada, directed by Carin, in one of her first big directing gigs. Exciting!

Two things were on my mind before the gig. The first was along the lines of “Gulp – we’re playing Latin American music to a real Latin American audience – I really really hope they like us!” The second was “Gosh – an all-girl Batucada gig – I’ve never done one of those before – I hope we can show that – much as we love playing with the boys – we can do just as well without them…”

I needn’t have worried – it was an awesome gig in all respects – not least because the audience was COMPLETELY BRILLIANT – and so, as a result – were we.

I must mention our surdo player Nigel/Nigella at this point. Surdos are big drums, especially the #1 and #2, which means that although we have quite a few women playing the smaller #3s, there are fewer females in the band who fancy lugging the larger drums around to gigs. We’re very lucky to have the talents of Lisa and Annie on #2 surdo, but we don’t have any girls that play #1 at the moment. Step up Nigel who, as his alter-ego Nigella, saved the day and allowed us to remain an all-female band. His costume (complete with pink wig) was a sight to see…

You know when you play a gig to an audience that either isn’t really into you, or they’re all too shy to show that they like you – and as a result, although it’s fun and everything, it’s not AMAZING… And then you play exactly the same gig to an audience that is completely enraptured by your playing and can’t wait to get on the dancefloor and get their groove on with wild enthusiasm – and as a result it’s FABULOUS…?

Well, this gig was one of the FABULOUS kind.

We began with a bang with some call and responses between Carin and the band, which went down very well, to claps and cheers from the audience, and right from the start we could see people having a bit of a wiggle in the tightly-packed crowd.

Our first piece was samba reggae, which is a great one to warm up with – both for the crowd and for the drummers, as it’s got a lovely laid-back rhythm, and it’s not too fast. As we finished the piece, there was a huge roar of appreciation from the audience, which surprised and thrilled us all, I think. They liked us! Yay!

MIA Latin festival 2012 - photo by DebsWe were lucky to have in the audience one of our male dancers who has led the band on occasion as our mestre-sala – who was there with some of his hunky Latin mates. He soon joined our dancers at the front, between us and the crowd, and was getting his groove on with massive enthusiasm. After a while his hunky mates joined him, together with one of our former Brazilian surdo players who we haven’t seen for ages, and they formed a line in front of the band, dancing and woohooing and generally having a jolly good time.

Once you’ve got a few people dancing – especially ones as happy and enthusiastic as these guys, and especially with an audience that knows and loves your style of music – it doesn’t take much to get everyone up on the dancefloor, and soon we could hardly see what was left of the audience at all, there were so many people dancing and leaping around in front of us.

Carin did a sterling job directing us while trying to avoid being danced on (and occasionally joining in with the dancing, which is always fab to see), and even when we messed up with the start of one song and had to begin again, she held her cool, we all fell about laughing, the audience was very forgiving, and we carried on.

By the end of the gig, we had TONS of people dancing – and what was even more amazing was that they were dancing in formation – following the lead of our dancers. It was completely wonderful.

We learned that the Batucada laydeez really can kick ass when required, and that a Latin American audience not only loves and appreciates Brazilian music even when it’s played by a bunch of Kiwis, but that they can also really give it all they’ve got when they get out on the dancefloor. Fabulous.

After the gig, we received a lovely email from one of the MIA Latin Festival 2012 organisers:

I consider we were incredibly lucky to have the Batucada participate in our event with the support of the Brazilian Embassy.

I was born in Salvador, so to me, when you guys started playing, it was a big big emotion to handle as a volunteer organiser and as an authentic baiana myself.

So meaningful and thoughtful the idea of all women’s ensemble (and the cross-dresser LOL) for our association. So cool!!

OBRIGADA do fundo do meu coração!!!

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  1. Pingback: All-girl gig at the MIA Latin Festival | Wellington Batucada

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