Batala – DC’s All-Women Wall of Sound
One of the most powerful and exciting drum bands in Washington DC are Batala Washington DC, the all women Afro-Brazilian drum ensemble.
The 50+ member all volunteer female band has been keeping the samba-reggae rhythms of northeastern Brazil alive in DC since 2007. Rooted in traditional African drumming, the Washington DC chapter of this global phenomenon plays a collection of songs all created by the group’s original founder, a Brazilian percussionist and composer expat who was living in Paris at the time (1997) and missed the sounds of home. Being a graduate of the famous Paris Conservatoire, he formed a new percussion “bloco” (band) and named it Batala.
The concept has since spread globally, with over 20 ensembles being formed in cities from London to Sydney and Johannesburg to Brasilia.
Their music is a highly syncopated form of African and Brazilian drumming beats using more traditional Brazilian Samba and Caribbean Reggae rhythms. The Batala drummers, all dressed in black and red, create their music on 4 types of matching drums, including the Repique that has a sound resembling popcorn popping, the Surdo, the big bass drum, the mid-range Dobra and the Snare drum, which all create a powerful wall of sound. The corps also moves, hip-shakes and dances in unison to their beat, making their performances highly entertaining.
You can catch Batala Washington DC’s free-to-the-public outdoor practice every Saturday morning at Farragut Square. Or check their website for thier upcoming performances.
Dates & Times – every Saturday morning from 9:45 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. (Check the band’s website for any scheduling changes.)
Admission – FREE
Nearest Metro Subway Station - Farragut North – Red line and Farragut West – Blue & Orange lines, then a 1-block walk or use the Circulator bus.
Parking – Street parking is available in the area.
Image – from personal collection – ©2010, Jon Rochetti
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