Last Friday (31 March) saw around 150 drummers descend into the seaside town of Barmouth for the annual Batala Anglophone event.
Batala is a community of samba reggae drummers, with bands across the world. The Anglophone is a yearly event where members from UK bands come together to practice and perform.
Barmouth’s very own Batala Bermo hosted this year’s event, with drummers from Batala bands in Portsmouth, London, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, Lancaster, Bangor and Dyffryn Ardudwy in attendance.
After a meet and greet at The Royal on Friday evening, Saturday saw all drummers attending a full day rehearsal at the Barmouth Leisure Centre, followed by an optional scenic walk to the top of Dinas Oleu and then an evening party at the newly re-opened and renamed Sandbanks Hotel on the promenade (formerly The Arbour Hotel).
Sunday began at Talbot Square, with a performance around the central plinth. Drummers circled around this and gave spectators an incredible show as they played carnival rhythms to begin the day. Different band callers were allowed to take turns to lead, giving variations to the rhythms and music that was played throughout the day.
This was followed by an impressive parade down the town’s High Street. Residents, shop keepers and tourists filled the street as the huge group of drummers gradually made their way from one end of the town to the other, creating a summery vibe and a holiday atmosphere.
Dressed in unique and eye-catching red, white and black Batala costumes, the drummers then made their way to the beach for a performance like no other. With around 10 lines of drummers, and around 11 in each line, the finale featured over 100 drummers banging colourful drums on the golden sands of Barmouth’s beautiful beach. The enthusiasm, thrill and feel-good vibes of the music helped to keep the band drumming for well over an hour, and spectators were thrilled, especially when the band split intwo for an emotional piece called Lilu, which started with just a repinique drum and singing from the band. This traditional practice involves singing to the gods before the rhythm is played, and thanks to the scenic and tranquil surroundings, it was an impressive and spectacular thing to see.
The feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive, and both the town, tourists and Batala Bands were absolutely thrilled with how the weekend panned out. Many of the locals managed to mingle with the bands during their visit and many drummers had never been to Barmouth before, and instantly fell in love with the area.
Batala Bermo are incredibly proud of their efforts organising the event, and for the love and support they felt from the other Batala bands and the spectators. It has made running an event like this that extra bit more special.
Batala are always welcoming new members, so feel free to get in touch with your nearest Batala Band if you wish to get involved or to book us for your next event.