Or…how to stop the rain at the perfect moment through sheer force of will
We adore CubaDupa. In the four short years that it’s been running it has become one of the best festivals on Wellington’s annual calendar, and it’s one that we put a huge amount of effort into in terms of costuming and trying out new performance pieces.
This year we did two things we’ve never done before. We designed our own patterned fabric especially for CubaDupa and made our own costumes with it; and we introduced two fabulous singers into the mix – Alda Rezende and Nikkie Rich – who sang traditional Brazilian songs while we accompanied them on our drums.
It normally takes us a while to get ready for our Saturday night gig at CubaDupa. Our costumes are quite complicated, and we have makeup to do as well. We had our wonderful makeup artist Nadine Clement from previous years to help us once again, and together with her talented assistant they did a fantastic job, basing the white and gold makeup and body paint on designs suggested by our lovely dancer Yovi (who knows about these things).
I can honestly say, we’ve never looked better.
It was pouring with rain all afternoon, so it was no hardship to spend time in Thistle Hall, getting ready and praying for the rain to stop. With paint on our faces, arms and hands we were not looking forward to heading out into the rain. Our costumes, makeup and drums would have been ruined by the time we arrived at Swan Stage.
Ah well. We had a jam session to cheer ourselves up and to prepare for the imminent drenching, had a pep talk from Tim C, did the obligatory team photo, and got ready to head out…
There’s a lot to be said for the effectiveness of wishful thinking, hope, and willpower.
As we stepped outside Thistle Hall at just after 8pm, the rain stopped. It didn’t come back.
It was a miracle!
We had a bit of a warm-up outside and then made our way through the damp back streets to the back of the Swan Stage, where we waited to go on…
Photos by Joe Fecteau, Lise Hutcheon, Satya Priomarsono, Yuri Kiddo. Click on any thumbnail to see the larger version:
The moments before we go onstage… waiting in either excited anticipation or zen-like calm. A great opportunity for some rather lovely candid portraits.
Photos by Bokeh Street. Click on any thumbnail to see the larger version:
The stage gig
We began our show with an intro/opener called Kinije, which is sung a capella by the whole band. The dancers developed some beautiful slow choreography to accompany the song, and it was a good way to start our show without diving straight into the drumming.
It means that the audience is really ready for some drumming by the time we get to it, and as the first beats rang out for our second piece Sambanui samba reggae, we could hear a huge roar of appreciation from the crowd. Awesome! Our lovely singers joined us with a song called Negrume da Noite as we drummed, and I reckon we sounded pretty good. We sounded good from where I was standing, anyway!
Our third piece was Chris’s samba with a bunch of breaks from Fred’s samba just to mess with our heads, and the last piece was Merengue, again with our singers, with a song called Ashansu.
We were honoured to share the stage with Mestre Cabello, which is a samba Mestre from the northern part of Brazil. He was in Wellington for just a few days, and had agreed to play timbau onstage with us, as well as do a special samba workshop for us the following day. It was fantastic to have him play with us. He’s amazing.
At the end of Merengue we left the stage a row at a time. This allowed all of us to have a brief moment in the spotlight as each section stepped forward to play our little front row solo before leaving the stage. It was really nice to be able to see the audience and thank them – and have them see us and thank us too.
Lots of energy, excitement, big smiles ???❤️❤️❤️ #happinessiseverywhere #tb #weekend #saturdaynight #outing #absolutelypossitivelywellington #wellington #coolestlittlecapital #event #nzfestival #festival #cubaduba #cubadupa2018 #batucada #band #samba #music #dancing #goodtimes #goodvibes #fun #happy #enjoy #loveit
The Cuba Street and Pigeon Park gig
We have heaps of recently qualified members, following a brilliant Beginners’ Drum Class series in 2017. Our numbers practically doubled as we came off stage and joined these brand new performers waiting, also in costume, drums at the ready, ready for the parade.
It’s always complete madness trying to get over 100 of us down Cuba Street, in formation, drumming and dancing through the huge crowd, all while trying to see the director who is already miles ahead of us. It’s so much fun.
Eventually we reached Dixon Street and Pigeon Park, where we played for… ooooh I don’t know – another hour or so? I actually don’t know how long we played for, I just know i was absolutely KNACKERED by the end, so it must have been quite a while.
What an absolutely fantastic night. Let’s do it all again next year!
We are so grateful to our wonderful directors – Darryn Sigley, Tim Cook and Tim Ganly – and our fabulous dance directors, Arawhetu Berdinner and Hillary Reid – and to our lovely singers, Alda Rezende and Nikkie Rich. You rock.
Photos by Bokeh Street, Leigh Thornett, Lyndon Cronan, Paul Taylor, Pollyanne Diniz, Stella Hastie, Yuri Kiddo. Click on any thumbnail to see the larger version. You can use left and right arrows on your keyboard to navigate:
The fabric and costumes were inspired by the Afro-Brazilian group Ilê Aiyê, who come from Salvador in the Bahia region of Brazil. It’s where a lot of our music comes from, and this year we wanted to say THANK YOU to Baihia for the music, the dancing, the joy and the inspiration.
Every year, Ilê Aiyê create a new fabric design which tells the story of their band, and they use this to make their costumes. Our director Tim Cooke, who’s also a professional designer, spent weeks putting together a fabric design for Wellington Batucada, inspired by Ilê Aiyê and telling our story. It looks amazing. I bought 260m of beautiful thick white cotton drill from Frost Textiles and organised the printing to be done by Auckland Fabric Printers – Paul Onion at AFP was fantastic to work with and incredibly helpful. Tim also did matching designs for the drums to complete the look.
Each member of the band got 2m of the fabric to do whatever they wanted with, over a white base, and people could buy more if they wanted to make more elaborate costumes. I also got in touch with Kaarin Slevin at Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School who is the Head of Course for their Costume Construction Diploma course, and she very enthusiastically agreed to include Batucada CubaDupa costume-making as one of the options for the first year students. They made some incredible pieces for us at no cost, for which we are enormously grateful. We hope it’s the start of a beautiful friendship.
Alan put together two new fairy-lit “Thank you Baihia” banners, Dr Phil resurrected the fabulous flappy birds from CubaDupa 1, and we were ready to rock and roll. We even had a new and very lovely costumed flag bearer – Andi from Japan, whom Christian had met when he went over for the Tokyo Samba Festival last year.
Everyone in the band had worked on their outfit in the most wonderfully creative ways – and we ended up with the most fantastic set of costumes. All different and unique, with the white base and colourful fabric adding a lovely level of consistency. Each one was an ideal outfit for the person who commissioned/made and wore it, and reflected them in some way. It was the most successful costuming idea we’ve ever had.