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!

Here’s a bit of an overview of the day, from the Stuff website. The video includes (amongst many other cool bits of awesomeness) footage of Sambatron/Tauranga Samba parading down Cuba Street followed by a huge crowd, and Simon & AliG dancing the tango:

Wellington’s CubaDupa draws crowds, duelling tea pots to Wellington namesake

Stuff video screenshots - tango and samba

Screenshots from the Stuff video - video by Robert Kitchin

A triple treat of photos featuring various members of the Samba Massive from the Stuff website - photos by Robert Kitchin

A triple treat of photos featuring various members of the Samba Massive from the Stuff website
Photos by Robert Kitchin

The event is a two-day party of the arts in central Wellington featuring myriad visual art pieces, street performances and circus-style acts.

Cuba St and intersecting parts of Ghuznee, Manners and Dixon streets were closed to allow thousands of people and performers to roam freely.
Joel Maxwell, Dominion Post, 20 March 2016

The evening performance

Getting dressed up

Family portrait - Roy, Kay, James. Photo by Alan ShukerOn Saturday evening we spent a good four hours in Thistle Hall before the gig getting made up in our fantabulous Day of the Dead face paint, and getting changed into our costumes – including the spectacular T-shirts designed by Tim C. I reckon we looked pretty special. It’s such a great theme, and the contrasting colours of red, black and white supported by the splashes of Batucada green, blue and yellow worked incredibly well.

Photos by Alan Shuker and Vanessa Greig. Click on any thumbnail to see the larger version. You can use left and right arrows on your keyboard to navigate:

Waiting to play

CubaDupa day 1 - waiting in the dark, ready to play - photo by Alan ShukerWe made it out of Thistle Hall by 8.30pm, and wandered down the backstreets together. It’s quite amusing trying to keep 60+ people together when you’re crossing a couple of busy intersections, some people are carrying big drums, and everyone’s just a wee bit hyper. We had a bit of a practice/warm-up on Marion Street (much to the appreciation of the medics in the first aid zone), then gathered by the side of the Swan Dancehall Stage, ready to go on.

Photos by Alan Shuker and Alan Blundell. Click on any thumbnail to see the larger version. You can use left and right arrows on your keyboard to navigate:

On stage

CubaDupa day 1 - dancers on stage - photo by Alan ShukerThe gig itself went by in a flash, as these things often do. I remember looking out into the audience as we were stood on stage waiting to start, thinking “Holy moley there’s a lot of people out there!” – there were people crammed together as far as the eye could see – not an inch of space to spare.

As our Marion Street warm-up had been a tad wobbly, it was only fitting that the gig itself was smokin’ (I think we must frighten ourselves into total concentration mode when we have a slightly shifty rehearsal or warm-up, ‘cos we often have a great gig after one of those!). Note to self: do not stand next to Christian unless you want to see your sticks fly out of your hand not once but twice during a performance. Eek!

The dancers were wonderful – we have a whole crop of new dancers who’ve joined specifically for CubaDupa, and they did themselves proud. I hope they’ll stick around for a long time to come.

Bloco de Xango – video by Bella Obi

Bloco de Xango – video by Bella Obi

Maxixe – video by Bella Obi


Posted by Josef Beyer-Rieger Snr on Saturday, March 19, 2016

Samba – video by Josef Beyer-Rieger Snr

Photos by Alan Shuker and Amandala Photography. Click on any thumbnail to see the larger version:

Street performance

CubaDupa day 1 - Batucada in the street - photo by Alex EfimoffOnce we finished our stage set we gathered off-stage to begin our parade through Cuba Street, down to Te Aro Park. I love this bit, because it’s not often you get to play drums VERY LOUD in town at night, even on Cuba Street! We felt privileged. The crowd was wild, and enormous, and we had a bazillion people dancing with us down the street, which was wonderful…

Photos by Martin Horspool, Alex Efimoff, Alan Shuker and Andreas Lietz:

Samba reggae (pattern 3) – video by Naomi Lamb

…and then another bazillion who joined us at Pigeon Park and danced their little socks off while we drummed our little arms off. We played, the crowd danced, we finished, they went hooray, we played some more, we finished, they went hooray again, so we played some more – and we just didn’t want it to end…. WHAT A WONDERFUL NIGHT.

Merengue – video by Andreas Leitz

Samba – video by Andreas Leitz

Slo-mo video (no sound) by Andreas Leitz

Sambanui Samba with Funk break – video by King of Heartz

Samba with Wave break – video by King of Heartz

Six-Eight – video by King of Heartz

31 Days In

And then, to top it all off, on Monday this beautiful painting appeared, as if by magic – done by the very talented Tim & Zoe aka 31 Days In – they are spending 31 Days In Wellington at the moment, and day 20 was spent with us all at CubaDupa. Cool eh? You can buy a fine art paper print of this painting on Etsy, if you feel so inclined. Proceeds from sales of the work go to the wonderful Kaibosh.

31 days in Wellington, day 20: The incredible Wellington Batucada at CubaDupa

31 days in Wellington, day 20: The incredible Wellington Batucada at CubaDupa. Tearing up Cuba Street, Wellington, with their insane drumming and day-of-the-dead inspired costumes.
Painting by Tim & Zoe aka 31 Days In

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *