CubaDupa 2024 – day 2

Batucada Chegou – we are here, we’ve arrived, we are strong and proud

Wellington Batucada tam line - CubaDupa 2024 day 2 - photo by Paul Taylor

The theme of our CubaDupa 2024 performance is Batucada Chegou – we are here, we’ve arrived, we are strong and proud. It was reflected in our stage show, in our costumes featuring a new fabric design by director Tim Cooke, and in the giant signs which were paraded alongside us, written in Portuguese, English and te reo Maori. Even our drums were decorated to match – together with handmade flags, handed out to our audience so they could join in the fun.

It was a completely cohesive presentation, months in the making.

The gig began with our show on the Ngā Taniwha Stage, premiering our new Samba-Exaltação – the song Bate Forte No Tambor. Our drummers Joe, Anny and Carin provided the singing talent (which means we can perform it again elsewhere!) accompanied by director Tim on the cavaquinho (a tiny guitar – the Brazilian version of the ukelele) that he’d hand-made from an old olive oil can. Ingenious!

Wellington Batucada at CubaDupa 2024 - day 2 - photo by friends of Meghana Amarnath

Our drummers, directed by Darryn, were lined up at ground level in front of the stage, drumming and singing the song, and our dancers, directed by Arawhetu, took to the stage to strut their stuff. We ran through two full two-verse renditions of the song, and then broke into Rocinha samba, which is the Rio-style samba that we have in our repertoire.

The dancers moved across the stage in a complex and ever-changing cavalcade of “pods” – small groups of dancers, each with a lead dancer known as the passista. Our dance director Hillary (on sabbatical with her new baby) was our beautiful flag-bearer.

Wellington Batucada at CubaDupa 2024 - day 2 - photo by friends of Meghana Amarnath

It was a lovely gig. At the time, it seemed to go by so fast, but when you watch the video it’s really quite substantial. It was great to be able to sing our own song – and it’s been a mind-stretching delight to learn it in Portuguese and then drum it at the same time. I couldn’t see the dancers (as they were behind the drummers) but every so often a great cheer would erupt from the crowd, so I knew they were fully owning that stage.

Here’s the video of our full stage performance, filmed and edited by our very own Tom Etuata and Mike Clare – check it out!

Wellington Batucada’s 2024 CubaDupa stage performance
Video by Tom Etuata and Mike Clare

After the stage show, it was time for our traditional CubaDupa parade up Cuba Street. This was an opportunity for us to showcase the pieces in our repertoire that aren’t Rio-samba style, some of which derive from the northern part of the country where the African influence is stronger.

One of those pieces, new this year, is Olodum samba reggae. We’ve been learning and practicing it for ages, but the recent T20 Cricket gig was the first time we’d performed it in public. We played it again at the Newtown Fair, then last night at our popup night gig, so this was just its fourth public appearance.

During rehearsal it’s been the piece I’ve enjoyed least. For my instrument, the chocalho, it’s the same pattern all the way through, interspersed with just four short breaks. My hand tends to get numb and falls asleep while I’m playing it. If it’s played too slow it has a bit of a tendency to grind along – and of course while we’ve been learning it, we haven’t been playing it at full speed. But recently, as we’ve improved at rehearsal, we’ve been speeding up and I have begun to see the glimmerings of a really uplifting and exciting performance piece.

And all this came together at CubaDupa.

Wellington Batucada at CubaDupa 2024 - day 2 - photo by Keane Chan

I could see Tim, directing, weaving together this incredibly complex and deep tapestry of patterns and elements played by different instruments in the band – focusing on one section, then another, moving the band as a whole through a composition that was more multicoloured and multilayered than I had ever realised. Our section may have been playing the same pattern all the way through, but all around me I could hear other sections bringing in variations on the theme, and it was just completely amazing.

As we sped up towards the end, and the surdos came in with their strong deep bass beats in yet another variation, I could feel the energy – both within the band, and from the crowd surrounding us – take off and fly into a crescendo of joy and excitement. It was fantastic.

I didn’t get many photos from the weekend. But I overheard a spectator on Sunday when we’d finished parading say, ‘Oh my god, that was like a spiritual experience’. Same dude says to his friends a little later, ‘they’ve significantly leveled up’. Seems accurate to me!

Batucada Chairperson Jamie Baddeley – written in our Facebook group later that day

I’m willing to bet that the “spiritual experience” was at least partly due to Olodum samba reggae. It really is quite spectacular.

Check out our videos of the parade, filmed and edited for us by Tom Etuata and Mike Clare:

CubaDupa 2024 – Wellington Batucada’s street parade (part 1)
Video by Tom Etuata and Mike Clare

CubaDupa 2024 – Wellington Batucada’s street parade (part 2)
Video by Tom Etuata and Mike Clare

Oh – and here’s our 2024 team photo. I think it’s the largest contingent of performers we’ve had for a gig – ever.

Wellington Batucada team photo at CubaDupa 2024 - day 2 - photo by Mike Clare

The song – Bate Forte No Tambor

Bate Forte No Tambor is a Samba-Exaltação written especially for Wellington Batucada by our friend Carlos Ferreira – the Founder and Mestre de Bateria of Melbourne Samba School. The Samba-Exaltação is a Samba School’s anthem – an esquenta (warm up) that is played before the escola (school’s) parade.

Every Samba School in Brazil has one, but we’ve never had our own before. We are absolutely honoured to accept this Samba-Exaltação from Carlos. It means a great deal. The literal translation of the title is Play that drum hard – meaning to play with passion and gusto.

Bate Forte No Tambor lyrics – sung in Portuguese

La, laia laia. La laia laia.
La, laia laia. Laia. Wellington Batucada!

La, laia laia. La laia laia.
La, laia laia. Laia.

Minha Welly querida, meu eterno amor
Ba-te-ria, bate forte no tambor

Vem fazer Nova Zelandia se empolgar com a batucada
E cantar ao seu louvor (repeat)

Welly e casa de bamba, e minha escola de samba
Tambores na Cuba eu vou tocar (repeat)

E, e, e, e batuque a noite inteira
E, e, e, e vai ate o sol raiar (repeat)

English translation

My dear Welly, my eternal love
Bateria, play that drum with passion and gusto

Make New Zealand get excited with (Wellington) Batucada and sing your praise.
Welly is the home of the great sambistas, it’s my samba school.
I’ll play drums on Cuba (street).

And, and, and, and drum all night long
And, and, and, and until the sun rises.

Wellington Batucada at CubaDupa 2024 - day 2 - photo by friends of Meghana Amarnath

What is Batucada Chegou?

We see CubaDupa as our biggest gig of the year, and each year we make a huge effort with a new stage show, new costumes, and a new theme.

For CubaDupa 2024, Wellington Batucada proudly presents: “Batucada Chegou – we are here, we’ve arrived, we are strong and proud“.

This year, we are celebrating 21+ years as a Samba School in the Rio de Janeiro tradition, bringing the vibrant rhythms and infectious energy of Brazil to the heart of Te Whanganui a Tara, Aotearoa.

This performance will see the debut of Bate Forte No Tambor, the Samba-Exaltação (Samba School anthem) written for us by Carlos Ferreira in celebration of our 20th anniversary. This song reflects the pride and unity that define our Samba School; our legacies and our growth.

We are committed to our diverse and inclusive samba community. We support each other to be here, where our unity, passion, and joy converge in the universal language of music and dance.

Batucada Chegou is a testament to the Wellington Batucada community and our passion for Rio style samba. We continue to flourish where the spirit of Rio meets the soul of Te Whanganui a Tara.

E Batucada é samba, é funk, é sem caô!

Cubadupa theme description, summarised by our Directors

Wellington Batucada at CubaDupa 2024 - day 2 - photo by Paul Taylor

The fabric design

Wellington Batucada 2024 fabric design by Tim Cooke

Our director Tim also happens to be a designer, which is very fortunate for us. Each year he designs something new for us for CubaDupa. Sometimes it’s a T-shirt or other item of clothing, sometimes a “look” that will only appear at CubaDupa, sometimes it’s a fabric design that we have especially printed. This year we got double lucky – Tim designed a T-shirt and fabric, so that we could choose whether to make our own costumes from the fabric, or take it easy and just put on the new T-shirt and play.

The mosaic design is inspired by the famous Escadaria Selarón Mosaic Steps in Rio de Janeiro, a set of 250 steps outside the home of painter and sculptor Jorge Selarón, who renovated them by decorating them in mosaic tiles. The steps are covered in over 2000 tiles collected from over 60 countries around the world.

Escadaria Selarón Mosaic Steps in Rio de Janeiro - photo by Free Walker Tours

The Escadaria Selarón Mosaic Steps in Rio de Janeiro – photo by Free Walker Tours

The lettering in Tim’s design is based on that used for the artwork of the documentary Tropicália by Marcelo Machado, which is itself inspired by the decorative fonts of the 1960s. Tropicália, or tropicalismo, is one of Brazil’s most significant cultural movements. Born in the late 1960s by a collective of like-minded souls, it used music and visual arts as a voice to confront the cultural and political establishment.

Wellington Batucada at CubaDupa 2024 - day 2 - photo by Paul Taylor

In Wellington Batucada, we use the principle of giving each member some leeway to express their individuality in their costume. For example, we are often given the choice of how to accessorise an outfit, while keeping certain elements (such as the T-shirt) the same. This aims for a balance between expressing ourselves and creating real impact with a unified look.

This year, that balance is beautifully expressed through the mosaic design. Each of us has our own whakapapa, stories, and passions, and we bring all of our pieces together to create something beautiful. The edges don’t match up exactly; they’re not supposed to. It’s all of our pieces together that make a colourful, beautiful experience for our communities. The fact that some of us chose to use the fabric to make our own unique custom outfits only adds to that spectacle.

Wellington Batucada at CubaDupa 2024 - day 2 - photo by Tom Etuata

Media coverage

CubaDupa review: A glimpse at the future of Wellington

…I spent my weekend literally running from section to section, from one soundscape to the next, trying to soak it all in and eat all the dim sum I could lay my hands on. There was almost too much of something for everyone. A Pasifika choir singing pitch-perfect Disney? Absolutely! Three different batucada and samba groups? Vibrant! A very British man who climbs into a giant balloon, removes most of his clothes, and climbs out again? Why not! Well, I could think of a few reasons why not for that last one, but who am I to be the arbitrator of art?…

…But what stood out above all the chaos was the implicit invitation of the festival, to simply just be. Stand out from the crowd, or lose yourself in it. Stick to what you know, or seek out the unfamiliar. Break down barriers, be bold; it’s the Wellington way…

…CubaDupa is a product and an extension of Pōneke. You can’t have a festival like this without the city that gives it life. It’s a distillation of a lot of what makes Wellington Wellington; intensely local, yet still surprisingly international, welcoming, kind, generous. Maybe I didn’t quite find my wild, but I found something better: some new favourite local artists …and a vision for the future I can get behind.

CubaDupa review: A glimpse at the future of Wellington – The Spinoff, 26/03/24

Wellington Batucada at CubaDupa 2024 - day 2 - photo by Tom Etuata

Photo galleries

Photos by Carolina PratoCasanova, Epu Tararo, friends of Meghana Amarnath, Gina King, Harriet Payne, Jein Fonda, Kamille Joyce, Kara Nation, Keane Chan, Kelly Etuata, Maia Miller, Megan Glass, Meghana Amarnath, Mike Clare, Paul Taylor, Rebecca Routhan, Simon Elwell, Therese Grobler, Tom Etuata and Vicky Lin. Click on any thumbnail to see the larger version:

Getting ready

Waiting to play

The stage show

The parade

Wellington Batucada at CubaDupa 2024 - day 2 - photo by Paul Taylor

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *