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.
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:
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
On 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
We 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.
The 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.
Once 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…
…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.
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.