yes, once again disco fever hits guanabara club with rotc, and with our current selection of cheeezy classics – stayin alive, night fever, september, lets’s groove – dancers samara (red hot pants) and aneta (black hot pants) invite the audience to get down with their bad selves. witness below the first successful soultrain.
once more we are back at night of festivals, and again it is old market square, nottingham for 2 days of masquerading intrusions into public space. this time, night of festivals is on tour nottingham, boston, leicester and (…wait for it) slough. yes slough, rotc having rocked rio de janeiro, there was nowhere but down. back to the story… mandinga are taking out small groups of costumed performers, each has their own style and routines and we provide conga, soca, frevo and cumbia: melodies through the PA mounted behind us and 3 percussionists on the back of the sambanator 3000 pictured below.
there is a first time for everything, and this was the first time for our high speed mobile samba experiment. 12 musicians on 6 pedicabs (thanks to bugbugs). there were some hairy moments, notably going downhill into the euston underpass.. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah…., but also some strange and unique memories, playing at buckingham palace (sorry liz) and the response from all riding along. hope to do it again soon.
this was the year things got interesting. we played at this stage by the london eye, then in the night procession: 2 singers (maurizio ravalico and osvaldo chacon) a 10-piece horn section, percussion (lots), a suite of songs. chan-chan, sandunguera, que viva changó, some chants for ochún, blen blen blen. a sequence of ascending tempos with the rhythms of guajira, songo, son-montuno, batá and the conga; a plan that set the style of presentation over the next 5 years. each section of dancers would come forward for the music that they had choreographed, and the set would begin again in parade as soon as it had finished. dancers don’t get tired, musicians don’t get tired, audience gets variety. a win win win situation. visit mandinga’s photo gallery for more of a flavour.
rollerdisco is our kind of place. mirrorballs, lots of them. even before we hit the specially-constructed-for-us and nicely-tiered stage, the djs were already spinning from our play list. dom and brian sang mainly 70’s and 80’s classics to a mobile audience, only some of whom ended up in a pile on the floor. we hope to be back, not only because this was new-age fun with a vintage feel, but there was free skating for the performers after the gig. it was noted that members of rotc felt like they were at a hen night, all having fun on the rink(?) wearing the same t-shirts.
in the yearly cycle of rotc’s music, oct – mar is the time to build new music ready for the summer season. this night was the night of quite a few new things…. a new singer (sylvia) has just joined us, a new drummer (new adam…. old adam is the one who set up our website), a first time for 6 tamborins (pictured below), and some new music (beleza pura and zombie). there is to be more new stuff next month. watch this space. gallery of the night is here.
with an explosion of confetti, dancers helga and gabriella descended the staircase to face the gathered crowds, press and tv cameras; accompanied by a budget sized 5-piece rotc, we were in plymouth university to give a colourful sample of what to expect later in the year for the real festival. organisers dan and katie did everything to make our hit and run visit a smooth one. time spent on train: 7.5 hours. time spent in plymouth: 3 hours. time spent on stage: 1 hour. you do the math.
big up luton, voted worst town in britain for so many years, still has the biggest UK carnival outside notting hill, placed naturally in what is a perennially rainy may (just in case it got too good) and as a result, it was the natural home for the UK’s still new looking carnival arts centre. of the local carnival groups, rampage – pictured her with us – are our favourites, they will jump up whatever the weather, and whatever the audience. and a good job as, despite internet worldwide live link ups, without them there would have been no party. thanks go out to pax for the invite and the freestyle reggae (first time for rotc to have a song in shona) and thanks too to those from swica in wales who got down with their bad selves.
saturday night of rio carnival is a special time for our favourite employers guanabara (london) and boteco do brasil (glasgow), and once again we have the honour of rocking their parties. it could be our last time of monopolising UK brazilian venues’ carnivals (if scotland leaves the union) so we made the most of the blue-moon event. our minibloco + dancers yazzmin, joana, veronica & aneta travelled north (see picture, aneta is sadly out of picture) with local guests roddy and doug joining the band from samba ya bamba. further south, the remainder of the band (samara and eddy dancing) took it up to 11. more photos?
more extensive reading about our trip here:
– barak’s songlines feature
– becca’s blog for songlines: part 1 – part 2 – part 3
– noemi writes for: londonjazz.blogspot
– one of the articles covering us in rio press: o globo
– teacher of british school’s blog
– also name-checked by bloco thriller electrico who are playing some of our arrangements including this