One of my last days in Salvador I went to the older part of town, the incredibly beautiful and historic Pelhourinho, and spent magic hour walking down cobble stone streets amidst pastel painted beautifully restored colonial houses. I wandered in and out of art galleries and enjoyed the stunning views from the high city down to the water front.
As I was heading back towards evening, I heard the exhilarating sound of drumming– the super danceable and funky Bahian Samba Reggae style. I rushed to follow the sound, and found not one, but quite a few drum batucada’s marching down different streets, starting up their rehearsals. I was hurrying to follow one around the corner when I stumbled on something better – a drum batucada comprised entirely of
teenagers and children, nearly all of them girls.
I felt like I had discovered my greatest dream spread out before me – girls, uninhibited, confident, proud, fierce, strong, dancing down the sidewalk joyously, creating a big powerful contagiously grooving sound. Nearly everyone walking down the street stopped to watch in admiration or dance. many of them dancing. . The girls were smiling at each other and showing off on the dance steps, with the younger girls working hard to keep up with the more experienced older ones. In the front, the bright qeyes of the little ones were glued on their conductor, also a woman, who was playing them the cues for their parts.
My favorite part was when the conductor called upon members of the band one by one to play their solos. She would point with her drum stick to a band member, then when the break in the music came – they would play their own little riff. One particularly energetic little girl kept jumping up and down, “me, me, me” she kept saying to the conductor, till finally it was her turn, and she executed her part perfectly. Upon realizing her success she broke into a thrilled smile that could have lit up the whole state of Bahia. The little ones went one by one, literally trembling with glee once they completed their parts.
As a girl drummer who has always operated in a very
male-dominated world, I was just so happy that other little girls in Salvador could grow up seeing this awesome girls batucada and know, without questioning or doubting or having to prove anyone wrong, that they could make their own powerful music and get a street full of people dancing.