A two-year project organizing a massive reunion of 120 drummers from Batala sister groups all over the world took place from May 23 through May 30, 2016. Batalá SF organized seven days of events that spanned San Francisco and the East Bay--including a wine tour to Napa Valley, a round-robin drumming welcome event at Luka's, drumming and picnicing on beautiful Lake Merritt, a boat party with my inspirational daughter exciting the crowd with her music, two walking tours of SF, Black Panther tour of Oakland, a bar crawl and beer tour, three workshops with master drummer and founder of Batalá Giba Goncalves (one at the historic Presidio), a "en masse" walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, three performances at the Carnaval SF Festival, and the Carnaval SF Parade, and finally, a farewell party at The Bottom of the Hill with DJ Petra and live music by Rumbache.
The annual international event--Encontro--proves that drumming, dancing, and singing together are love-filled, community-building, artistic endeavors that span diverse cultures and languages. The farewells to all our friends--who we danced, drummed, and sweated with--were tearful, and from their shining faces we know it was a success.
We greeted old friends and made new ones, learning that nationality and language difference can be breeched by the international language of drumming. As one of the Batala Washington DC members stated: "The power of music is that dozens of drummers who have never met can walk into a bar, strap on some drums, play the same music and become instant family...."
The centerpiece of the week's events was participation in Carnaval SF's parade down Mission Street. With 120 drummers from eighteen sister bands; fifteen youth dancers from Rites of Passage, Dimensions Dance Theater led by Latanya Tigner; four adult dancers; and dozens of volunteers.
Photo by Marco Sanchez
AMERICAS: Durham, Houston, Los Angeles, Mexico, New York, San FranciscoWashington DC
EUROPE: Austria, Boom, Gwada, La Rochelle, Massif, Nantes, Netherlands
UK: Bristol, Lancaster, London, Mersey