Newtown Fair 2018

Drumming and dancing in the sun

What a beautiful day for a mad drumming and dancing session through Newtown. A perfect (actually, incredibly hot) day in the middle of The Best Summer Ever – and here we all are at the Newtown Fair, one of our favourite gigs of the year.

We had a ton of first-time performers with us for this gig, as the band is busy preparing for CubaDupa. We’re giving our most recent intake of drummers the opportunity to get a bit of parade practice in before the night parade down Cuba Street in a couple of weekend’s time. Exciting!

Dancers Yovi, Arawhetu and Hillary lead the way at Newtown 2018 - photo by Paul TaylorOur dancers looked a-ma-zing. Bling, sparkles, sequins and shiny stuff being the order of the day – and they had really gone to town on their handmade costumes. Fantastic to see – and I think the crowd were impressed as well 🙂

We started off with a short performance outside the Community Hall on Rintoul Street, and then – slowly slowly, as the crowds parted for us – made our way down the street and onto the main thoroughfare of Riddiford Street. This is our normal route for Newtown Fair – all the way along Riddiford as far as we can go – at whatever speed the crowds allow us to progress (hint: not very fast). We get the whole street dancing all around us, and it becomes this huge dancing, drumming street party, with Wellington Batucada at the centre. It’s really wonderful.

This year the plan was to meet up with the very wonderful Cumbia Blazera, who were scheduled to be performing on the main stage at the same time as our parade, and to do a bit of a jam with them for a while – which is exactly what we did. As it’s almost impossible to hear the band from our position in amongst the drums when we’re all playing, we relied on Darryn on-stage to direct us and tell us what to do – as well as give us some indication of timing.

Cumbia Blazera with Wellington Batucada – the jam. Video footage by Andrea Mayo

We all had such a great time parading and jamming with the band. I think our newest performers enjoyed it too – and it gives them a bit of an idea of what it’s going to be like at CubaDupa.

Drumming while parading isn’t as easy as it looks, particularly when you factor in keeping an eye on your fellow band mates, barely ever taking your eyes off the director, (while at the same time smiling and engaging with the crowd), and trying not to trip up on any bumps in the road – all while instantly recalling what the heck you’re supposed to be playing…. it can be quite a baptism of fire for new drummers – but they all did magnificently, and a fabulous day was had by all.

Photo gallery

Photos by Paul Taylor. Click on any thumbnail to see the larger version:


After the gig we headed off to various local hostelries for a bit of a cooling drink, and then a bunch of us decided we’d go and get something to eat. On our way we came across an impromptu disco outside the Long Black Cafe – which we immediately joined, with huge enthusiasm. What fun times…. may they happen every week!

Dancing in the street – there really is nothing quite like it.

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