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.

The Dominion Post showed up for our farewell party and final band practice and wrote a very nice article – you can read it here (there’s video, too):

Drum band kicked out of community hall over neighbour’s noise complaints

A Brazilian drum band that regularly plays at street parties and the Wellington Sevens has been ejected from its rehearsal rooms for being too noisy.

Wellington Batucada have rehearsed at Thistle Hall in upper Cuba St for 15 years, but noise complaints from a couple living in a neighbouring apartment have forced Wellington City Council to permanently eject them.

Sunday afternoon was the percussion band’s swansong in the historic council-owned building that has housed their weekly practices since 2001. Their ejection has prompted concerns about growing clashes between the capital’s arts scene and its inner-city residents.

“One of the things that makes Wellington great is its community, arts and music, and Cuba St is where this all happens,” Batucada member Alison Green said on Sunday…

Deirdre Mussen, Dominion Post, 1 May 2016

Final band practice at Thistle Hall - photo by David White, Dominion Post

Final band practice at Thistle Hall – photo by David White, Dominion Post

Thistle Hall – we love you, and we’re really gonna miss you. Thanks for all the good times and the great memories.

PS More stuff (02/05/16 update)

So – this sad story of ours has been gaining quite a bit of traction in the media and on social media over the last day or so.

The Stuff story went up on Sunday afternoon (awesomely speedy work, Deirdre Mussen!). On Monday morning, we made the front page of the Dom Post. Nice!

On Monday afternoon Alan was interviewed on Radio NZ: Wgtn community band kicked out of inner city practice space

Take a look at the comments on the Stuff story too – overwhelmingly in our favour, which is great to see. Here are a couple of examples:

There should be different noise control limits in the CBD. They should favour the many over the few. Cities are and should be noisy. That’s part of the appeal. There are quiet suburbs all over Wellington, Hutt and Porirua where you can have tight noise control policies and people can fairly expect quiet. The Wellington CDB is not a place that you should be able to compain about a loud band. Especially on a Sunday afternoon. Even at 2am I would have thought city noise would be expected. Please change the rules.

Once a week, that is like complaining about the speedway…. I think it is disappointing how longstanding participants can be kicked to the curb by “I didn’t know and I don’t like it”…

you buy an apartment in the city central and complain when their is noise?

especially above Thistle hall for gods sake. Numpties. Batucada are a fantastic asset to the Wellington cultural scene so I hope they can be welcomed somewhere and continue!

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if you choose to buy next to a community hall, there will be noise occasionally. But this is a typical selfish attitude – their desire for silence is more important than the enjoyment of hundreds (thousands?) of others who benefit from this band.
If the noise is that offensive, the couple in the apartment could always go for a walk every Sunday afternoon and enjoy the different sights that Wellington has to offer. I’m assuming that the band practices at the same time every week?

They (complainants) chose to live in the inner city, and they want peace and quietness. I cannot figure that out?
One chose to live in the city so as to enjoy the vibrant entertainment close by, and of course it is going to be a noisy place , now these batucada members will have to move , why don’t the complainants moved out ?

I have heard them practicing as I walk through the area and always enjoyed the sound which I felt went with Cuba street and the arts and crafts/ historic feel. Granted if it was raining and I had to live bang next door and couldn’t get out for a coffee, I’d be wearing headphones and dancing to my own beat but then I wouldn’t buy an apartment or house next to a community hall, or a bar, or a night club without expecting (a) 200 % noise insulation in the property I mean to live (b) see A . :))
And I am not being anti noise or pro noise, in fact I can’t stand hearing someones boom or thump rattling through the walls or along the foundations but it’s my choice to make sure I don’t live where it’s pretty much a given. I have to side with the band on this one.

I guess this sort of confliction is just going to increase as inner-city living (with perhaps inadequate soundproofing of apartments) continues to become more popular.

The council needs to take a better lead in this regard.
And that lead should not be to kick out such a band. Better to require and enforce soundproofing for apartments, or require tenants to sign a caveat.

Surely earthquake strengthening can be achieved without increasing noise transfer?

once again people move in to the city then complain about noise (which was always there) cities are noisy, stop crying

I have lived in an apartment nearby for about 10 years. I have enjoyed listening to them practise. What a shame.

Who are the owners of the apartment? Either they work for or are tight with someone on the council?
They must have known about the noise before they bought it? What a sad day for the arts.

Also, it would be good to know if the apartment is compliment with the district code for soundproofing.

Wow!! Unless the noise was rattling the entire apartment to the point of things falling and breaking, it’d be cool on a Sunday Arvo to listen to it! Free performance every week! Lol
And if it was that bad, how about planning to get some shopping done? Or exercising, visiting loved ones, or checking out the city for the 2 hours?!
Very selfish and self centered. Hope that common sense prevails!

Suck it up. Wellington is about arts and culture, not prissy attitudes. You’re not going to find quiet in the middle of the CBD, and it’s a couple of hours a week!

WCC gets it wrong again. Anyone living in the CBD must expect that it is inherently a ‘noisy’ precinct. After 15 years who has the rights?

I loathe people who move into an area and force out activities that predate them.

It is time to declare a part of the city a 24 hour noise complaint free zone. If you want to live within this area, ensure your house/apartment has double glazing and is sound proofed.

It is daytime practice and therefore should be allowed. There was only one couple complaining, it is beggar’s belief it led to eviction. Unless they know someone at WCC of course…

Pity the neighbours didn’t just join in, they would have had the time of their lives!! hope someone comes forward soon and offers this briiliant group of people their new practise space.

I have been to various events at Thistle Hall – exhibitions, markets, talks, musical performances and private functions. Some of these have been loud. I live close to the city and am prepared to accept some inconvenience as a result, but I would never choose to live close to a public hall. I wonder how much they knew about the area before they bought there.

It wouldn’t be hard to find out who uses it before you buy the apartment surely? It is a community hall which is hired out after all…..

And this couple couldn’t go to a cafe on a Sunday afternoon for two hours instead of staying at home making noise complaints? Not like they’d be short of cafe options…

The complainants will be complaining about something else next, no doubt.

Yet again a minority complains and action occurs in favor of the minority, This behavior is unacceptable and needs to stop.

Wow. Shocking selfishness (and lack of research) on the part of the apartment owners.

This has been a constant issue in this city since the 90’s. Move into the city, expect some noise. Don’t like it, move on. You’re killing our culture and nightlife.
Max Kelly

2 hours on a Sunday afternoon…. I hope there is more to this story than that as that is the most unreasonable complaint I have heard so far. Many more apartments out there, try one, say… in the suburbs where its quiet?

Wow a whole group have to stop there dun because of two whingey people. If your live in town you should expect noise and culture not tranquility. If the council cared about culture they should support these sort of groups rather than folding to tiny groups of NIMBYs…

Buy in the city – suffer the consequences. Get a life apartment dwellers, you chose to live there

We don’t know what’s going to happen next. We’ll keep you updated with progress. Thanks EVERYONE for your amazing support!

2 thoughts on “Farewell to Thistle Hall

  1. Thanks for the vid, AliG! Gutted I couldn’t make it – I’ve been full of flu for a week! Boo, no more Thistle Hall!!!

  2. i can’t believe those residents couldn’t handle one rehearsal a week. They make a choice to live in a vibrant city, they move in, and then they complain. Sad. If it was night after night I’d understand their angst.. doesn’t seem to be they understand their relationship with the city.

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