FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 – Spain vs Costa Rica

Kicking off the FIFA Women’s World Cup in style

Wellington Batucada at FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 - Spain vs Costa Rica. Photo by Carolina PratoCasanova.

We were rather thrilled to be asked to provide entertainment for those in the Fan Zone at the FIFA Women’s World Cup this year. We’ve done our share of waterfront performances and parades for big sporting occasions over the years – and it’s great to be able to add another fantastic event to our collective CV.

Our first game was Spain vs Costa Rica – on a super-cold winter’s late afternoon/early evening in late July. What fun! At least if you’re a drummer you can layer multiple undershirts, thermals and vests under your band uniform t-shirt (I was wearing six layers in total, plus scarf, hat and gloves) – but pity the poor (super-staunch) dancers who have much less of a uniform under which to hide extra layers – I’m in awe, quite frankly. They are amazing.

Wellington Batucada at FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 - Spain vs Costa Rica. Photo by Carolina PratoCasanova.

Anyway – a good turnout of both drummers and dancers for this first gig, led by our director Tim. There were quite a few fans in the Fan Zone who all stopped what they were doing to watch and cheer us on, as we did a circuit around the waterfront bars and restaurants in the vicinity of Queen’s Wharf, down as far as (and through) the fairy-lit bridge near the Kina sculpture.

Once that was complete we paraded back and re-entered the Fan Zone area beneath the Queen’s Wharf sails and continued our show in front of the giant TV screens, as the teams were warming up to play.

On this occasion, our otherwise generous complement of drummers and percussionists did not include the agogo bells – of which we had precisely no players that night. This wasn’t a problem until it was time to play the Ijexá break in Rocinha samba.

This break begins with a turn and extended intro – and then the agogos (solo) play “Di-dink donk-der-donk dink dink donk donk” – except of course they didn’t, as they weren’t there. So we went from beginning the intro to….. silence.

Fortunately the caixas had started up their pattern regardless, followed by the chocalhos, and Tim brought in the other instruments one by one, creating an alternative beginning for Ijexá instead. I think it shows the skill of both the director and the band when we can pivot mid-pattern and maintain momentum in a new way.

In subsequent gigs we have made sure we have a couple of spare agogo bells that other multi-talented drummers can switch to when necessary if no actual agogo players are present…

Wellington Batucada performing in the Fan Zone at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 – Spain vs Costa Rica
Video by Tom Etuata

I was very glad I’d been enough of a wuss to duck into my local op-shop on my way down to the gig, and grab the nearest warm red hat and scarf. Thanks Vinnies! OK so the reds don’t exactly match (not an issue after dark!) and the hat is – sorta cute but definitely not stylish – but who cares? They made such a difference to my comfort levels.

The metal frame of the chocalho is freezing on a cold night – demonstrated by the fact that after about five minutes of playing, my chocalho buddy Andre leaned towards me and whispered “I can’t feel my hands any more!” – so I was also extremely grateful I’d unearthed a pair of woolly gloves I used to wear sometime back in the 80s (dig those leopardskin cuffs). Warmth over style was definitely the order of the day/night I reckon.

We played for over an hour in total – which is a good long gig for us – which was much enjoyed by us as performers, as well as our brave and hardy audience. The threatened rain kept away until almost the end of the gig (thank you Weather Gods), which we wholeheartedly appreciated.

What a great start to Women’s World Cup for us all – and thank you very much to FIFA and the Wellington organisers for inviting us to take part.

The score, for those keeping track, was Spain 3, Costa Rica 0. Great game!

Wellington Batucada at FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 - Spain vs Costa Rica. Photo by Rebecca Routhan.

Photo gallery

Photos by Carolina PratoCasanova, Ginas Bellygees, Kelly Etuata, Meghana Amarnath and Rebecca Routhan. Click on any thumbnail to see the larger version:

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