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New girl on the bloco.

I joined AK Samba in July last year, and as a newbie didn’t have a clue about many things. One thing I quickly did pick up, because I heard it so often, was that ‘Wellington’ and ‘Cuba Dupa’ were synonyms for something really really awesome in summer. What exactly? I had no idea, but It was THE thing everyone seemed to be working towards all year.

However, being new to it all – to New Zealand, to Auckland, to playing an instrument – I didn’t bother too much with Wellington. I focused on practicing on Sundays and Mondays. Eventually, I was declared gig ready and while practices were fun, that’s when the real fun started: Ponsonby Market Days, Christmas parades, fund raising support for charities, Christmas parades, a fashmob for our own promotion, Christmas parades, and more Christmas parades.

With all those practice hours and the sweat & tears (yes, both) of months of gigs under my belt, I thought I knew what to expect from ‘Cuba Dupa’.

Man was I wrong.

Cuba Dupa, that’s two days of street festival in Wellington, taking performing and being a member of AK Samba to a new level.

Already playing a joint gig with five samba bands all at once.. We made some serious noise! And don’t get me wrong, the crowds at Christmas parades in Auckland are good. They enjoy listening to music, but people who come to a street festival on Cuba Street want to dance and cheer and celebrate!

And so do AK Samba band members when they go away for a weekend. The travelling, the different city, the leader (coincidentally a teacher by profession) telling us when to be where, the handful of people who sneak into bed an hour before sunrise.. it all felt a bit like a really really awesome school trip – and it is definitely THE thing I will be practicing for all of this year.


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