Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wellington Batucada at the All Blacks game

It's very industrial underneath Westpac Stadium - all concrete pillars and not much lighting to speak of.

Somehow, when I was imagining us playing at the All Blacks vs Springboks tri-nations match last week I was picturing it being quite dimly-lit on the field as well, so it was a bit of a shock as we walked around the corner and could see the far end of the player's tunnel in front of us, with the field and thousands of yellow seats beyond. I'd forgotten there'd be floodlights! It was brighter than a very bright thing out there! Crikey!

We gathered in formation on the edge of the field just in front of the tunnel, Tim gave the signal to begin, and we began our parade.

The next 30 minutes went by in a flash. I remember concentrating my entire focus on Tim and on my caixa. I was dimly aware of players warming up on the field next to us, but I barely looked at them - I was so engrossed in the music and making sure I was playing my patterns properly. I remember the slightly muddy grass beneath my feet (it had been raining all day), and trying not to trip over the myriad of TV cables spread across our path. I remember the crowd (not massive an hour before kick-off, but not too shabby) and how much they enjoyed our playing, and I remember the beat of our drums echoing around the stadium.

As we finished each piece with a flourish, the crowd near where we were playing cheered and clapped (and we cheered and clapped back at them), and then we'd be onto the next piece, marching in time to the music as we played.

At one point a commentator placed himself and his camera crew directly ahead of us, the big camera light was switched on, and he began to talk to camera. At the time I couldn't believe that his mike would be able to pick up his voice at all - we were only about 10 feet behind him, and boy, were we loud - but sure enough through the wonders of modern technology they were able to hear him loud and clear - and see us as we marched behind him, big grins on all our faces as we passed by.

OK so he called us Batucada Sound Machine (our director Darren's samba band) instead of Wellington Batucada, but never mind - at least he referred to us!

Here we are:

We continued on our merry way as a fine misty rain began to fall, and made it around half the field in half an hour, leaving by the tunnel opposite the one we'd come in on. A final flourish, played exclusively for the guys hanging out having a fag on the upper walkway, and we were done. It seemed like only 5 minutes since we'd begun playing.

As we were driven back out of the stadium in our bus we passed by the thousands of fans still arriving at the gates - and we were so energised that it was pretty hard to stop ourselves leaping out and playing an impromptu gig for them all.

What a great night!

When I got back home and watched the match build-up on MySky I was amazed how loud we were. The poor old commentators in their glass box up in the Gods seemed to be having a bit of difficuly concentrating on what they were saying half the time - I think we must have been marching directly beneath their commentary box - and I really hope we didn't put them off.

Maybe next time (crossing fingers that there's a next time!) they'll get us to march around the opposite side of the field so our drumbeats aren't carried quite so effectively into that little glass box. We shall see...

Oh - and of course the All Blacks played an absolute stormer of a game and hammered the Springboks by a pretty wide margin for the second time in a row - Phew! Glad we didn't hex 'em with our playing! Go the All Blacks!

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