Hearing about the German samba paradise of Coburg from other band members, 6 people from Wellington Batucada decided to combine their passion for drumming, enthusiasm for good times and family duties in the motherland in one grand tour.
We typically hang out together in a large sports hall with 40 other
drummers, wearing ear plugs and making a lot of noise. This usually
makes communication fairly reliant on body language: The knowing nod of
nailing it, The samba face of deep concentration, The pained expression
of limbs giving up the ghost, and The wild gesticulations of the
noteworthy relationships are built on these sturdy foundations. We'd be
alright but what about the locals? How will they cope with the infernal
tapping of feet and fingers? Or Samba Pattern Tourettes Disorder -
randomly vocalising breaks and rhythms like a badly broken Brazilian
We practiced with the mighty London School of Samba
on our first weekend to ready our samba chops for a slightly more
frenetic pace than usual. This was made easier by having a formidable
amount of dancers attacking the bateria in formation at the monthly
Quadra night. Exciting stuff. Then down to the Windmill Tavern.
We traveled to Cambridge, midweek, to join the wonderful people of Arco Iris.
They play a smorgasboard of rhythms and infuse them all with heaps of
energy. I especially liked the democratic embodiment of a community
group with half the people directing different pieces. Then off to the
I lived in Cambridge for seven years, only 400 meters from their place of practice, so interesting that it took moving to NZ to get involved.
tried to visit a school in Barking but they exhibited a break down in
community group relations. A small political rift was followed by a
physical altercation, so the practice was cancelled. Like any self
respecting group of impassioned sambistas, there is a fine line between
smashing the crap out of your drum (good, when in time) or smashing the
crap out of another band member (bad, even when pummeling their bonce
with some good swing).
Back in London with LSS, we were asked if we'd like to participate in the small, school oriented Waterloo Carnival. No need to be asked twice to don the whites!
scorching day in London, some confused commuters in buses, many awesome
costumes, the amazingly enthusiastic LSS dancers and one or two
re-hydrating beverages at the Camel and Artichoke made for an excellent
Traveling on the Eurostar from St Pancreas to Paris took us to Sambatuc.
These guys were practicing 9 hours over two nights to nail a set for a
carnival in Liverpool. Needless to say, they were a precise and well
oiled machine. The caixas were en masse, furious and had more swing than
you can waggle a stick at. The composition was complicated, had some
great choreography and included some challenging dueling surdos. Then
off to a bar to watch Germany put another three goals past Brazil.