Batucada Blog

Courtenay Place Winter Parade 2024

An amazing atmosphere on a cold winter’s night

Wellington Batucada at the Courtenay Place Winter Parade - photo by Jeff Mein Smith

Jamie, who was co-ordinating the gig, described it thus:

“The various owners of the bars/venues/places of Courtenay Place are supporting a series of events along Courtenay Place throughout June/July. That means we’re doing a night parade! Twinkly lights! Drums! Dance! Action!”

And it really was – all of the above – and much, much more. It was quite a magical night, in fact.
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Beginners dance and drumming course 2024

We’re back! Come and join us!

Wellington Batucada CubaDupa 2024 team photo

After a year’s break for beginners’ dance classes, we’re back with a bang – and so are our annual beginners’ drum classes. We’d love you to join us!

The Sunday afternoon classes will run for 6 weeks, from 21 July to 25 August 2024, at 1pm – 3pm.

The cost is $135 for the course, with a special price of $75 for Batucada members who are keen to learn to dance, learn a new instrument, or refresh their skills.

Drumming classes will take place at the Cook Islands Society Hall, 220 Hanson St, Newtown.

Dance classes will take place at Te Whaea: National Dance & Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Road, Newtown.

Booking your spot on the 2024 course

We’ve made it super-easy for you to register and pay for a beginners’ course.

DRUMMERS REGISTER HERE: Batucada beginners’ drumming registration form

DANCERS REGISTER HERE: Batucada beginners’ dance registration form

Spaces on our beginners’ courses are usually in high demand, and numbers are limited, so please make sure you are able to attend all of the sessions before signing up.

We already have over 150 people on our “Expressions of interest” spreadsheet this year, including those who’ve been waiting two years to come to our dance classes – so we know demand is going to be super-high for 2024. Get in quick so you don’t miss out!

We’ll be in touch with more info once you’ve registered. If you can pay for your spot on the course as soon as possible, that would be great. Thanks!

More info about the courses can be found on our Join page

Cultural Food Fair 2024 – Miramar Central School

Delicious food from around the world, drumming and dance

Wellington Batucada team photo at Miramar Central School 2024 - photo by AliG

After the excitement and crowds of CubaDupa, it was a really nice contrast to be in the playground at Miramar Central School, doing a lovely little performance for their annual Cultural Food Fair.

I always love it when we have heaps of kids in the audience – they’re so enthusiastic! We had a decent-sized group of boys and girls joining our dancers in a spirited imitation of our choreographed dance moves – and they did it really well. There were a few I think would have fitted right in as official Batucada dancers – and it’s always great to find new talent! Perhaps we should get Gordo our gig co-ordinator to have a word with his partner who’s a teacher at the school…
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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.
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CubaDupa 2024 – day 1

Fairy lights outside the Southern Cross

Wellington Batucada at CubaDupa 2024 - day 1 - photo by Paul Taylor

This year CubaDupa very kindly gave us a sort of ninja gig/popup slot outside the Southern Cross on the evening of day 1. A nice low-key, relaxed kind of affair and just the thing to get us warmed up before tomorrow’s Big Gig.

It was a lovely clear crisp night, and we had a large number of performers signing up – over 80 of us in total – which made it extra-special.

The drummers dressed themselves up with fairy lights again, which is pretty much de rigeur for any nightime gig these days. They look so twinkly! It would be great if the dancers could wear them too – they’d look awesome – but sadly it’s really not practical. Their dancing is so energetic, unless the lights were actually sewn onto the costume they’d be lost and crushed underfoot within minutes. Ah well.
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Come fly a flag at CubaDupa with Wellington Batucada

Be a part of our stage show and parade with a Batucada flag

Flags blowing in the wind

Ever since the first CubaDupa back in 2015, we’ve thought about how great it would be to fill the streets of central Wellington with flags and bunting during the festival. Looking up to see colourful fabric flying in the breeze, silhouetted against the blue sky, can give your spirits such a lift – and you see flags and bunting all over the place at CubaDupa these days.

We want to add to the fun, with our own Wellington Batucada flags, carried (and enthusiastically waved) by our audience at our Sunday afternoon Swan Stage show, and the street parade afterwards.

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Newtown Fair 2024

Sparkle Ponies ahoy!

Wellington Batucada dancers at Newtown Fair 2024 - photo by Harriet Payne

It was a bright and shiny day in Wellington, as befits our maddest parade of the year at the Newtown Fair. I seem to recall reading somewhere that this year’s event was the biggest ever, which makes sense, as it just keeps on getting better and better every year.

Our outfits for the day’s shenanigans were CubaDupa 2023 for the drummers (mostly red with a massive Batucada logo on the back) and my most favourite outfit for the dancers – “Sparkle Ponies”. It’s days like these that I wish I were a dancer so I could wear the outfit. Except I can’t do choreographed dancing to save my life, and no-one wants to see my bare midriff – so I guess I’m sticking with the chocalho for the time being.
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T20 Cricket 2024 – New Zealand vs Australia

An absolute nail-biter at the stadium

Wellington Batucada at the 2024 T20 Cricket - NZ vs Aus - photo by Tom Etuata

We haven’t done much for the cricket before – and it was great to be asked. Particularly as the payment for our gig included a bunch of tickets for the game. Fantastic! How could we say no?

Our job was to entertain the crowd as they arrived for the Black Caps’ T20 cricket match against Australia at the Sky Stadium. For the first time in ages the drummers got to wear our old black uniform again (dig those extra-ancient starry pants that director Darryn was sporting!) – and the dancers were dressed all in white (with silver accents). It was a good look.
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Island Bay Festival Parade 2024

Fun in the sun in the teeth of a howling southerly

Wellington Batucada at the Island Bay Festival 2024 - photo by Island Bay Festival

It’s not often that we have to wear thermals and our special Batucada warm and snuggly red sweatshirts for a gig in February – but there you go. That’s the unpredictable Wellington weather for you, especially in these days of climate change.

We’ve played at the Island Bay Festival Parade for many years, and really enjoy it. It’s a long parade that goes all the way down The Parade to Shorland Park on the waterfront. It’s quite a tricky one to get right, timing-wise. In past years we’ve either gone too slow (2023) and arrived so late there wasn’t time for us to play at the Rotunda, or we’ve galloped along (2021) – not easy when you’re carrying a big drum – and arrived very hot and sweaty and completely knackered.

So it was a bit of a miracle that this year (a bit like Goldilocks) we managed to get it just right. Not too fast, not too slow. And also not that easy marching into the teeth of a howling southerly.
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Stokes Valley Christmas Parade 2023

Sparkles and tinsel and a new place to spend Christmas

Wellington Batucada at the 2023 Stokes Valley Christmas Parade - photo by AliG

It’s been a good few years since I’ve been to Stokes Valley, so I did my Google Maps homework, and had it all planned out in my head. Give myself an hour to drive there in case the traffic’s bad. Aim to arrive an hour before the parade begins. Half an hour to find a park. Half an hour to walk up the parade route from Stokes Valley town centre to the start of the parade. It worked very well. It’s a blimmin’ long way up that hill from the town centre to the start of the parade, so I was very glad I’d given myself a good long time to walk it.

I’m not certain that Christian and Joe gave themselves quite as much time. In fact, I reckon they went “Pick you up an hour before the gig? Plenty of time, eh?”. They arrived, somewhat out of breath, a couple of minutes after the parade began. Phew! Nothing like cutting it fine – and I guess you might argue that they actually timed it PERFECTLY. I freely admit that I am incapable of cutting it fine, and always seem to arrive at least half an hour before our earliest muster time. Just in case. Because you never know.
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