Batala Drummers: Batala NYC -The Beginning of New York’s Batala!

Batala New Tork

Batala Drummers!

Batala New York City started in 2011 in the brain of Stacy Kovacs while seeing Batala Washington at the New York City Brazilian Day Lavagem da Rua festival on 46th Street in Manhattan, otherwise known as “Little Brazil”.  These Batala Drummers were loud, powerful, and fierce.

Stacy was there playing the caixa (Brazilian snare drum) with Manhattan Samba.  While waiting around the group Batala Washington was warming up with their drumming repertoire.  Stacy immediately fell in love with the sounds of samba reggae and Batala drumming.  “Who are these people??”  Stacy noticed it was a group wearing all white, and their drums had red and black triangles with stripes on them.  The procession started and only a few people from Manhattan Samba were there.  So, Stacy and her friend Laura and some others from Manhattan Samba had no choice but to tag along the back of Batala Washington.  

After a fun stroll down 46th Street, once the procession and festivities was over, Stacy spoke to some people from Batala.  It became obvious that the group was from Washington DC, but joined by members of the greater Batala organization around the world-from Batala Paris and Batala Brasilia mostly.  Giba Goncalves, their founder was there as well.  

When Stacy spoke to one of the Batala Drummers, from Batala DC, a woman named Jessica gave her the DC branch’s business card.  When Stacy said she wanted to start a Batala maybe in NYC, Jessica responded with a resonating “NO!”  and followed up with “We’re the only Batala in the USA and we want it to stay that way.” 

Well, that was the challenge Stacy needed to hear, and the rest is history.  

Stacy went home and researched Batala over the next month and thought about how she would seriously do this.  

She reached out to her friends in the samba drumming community and had a few discussions about what it would take to start a brand new, all women samba reggae group in New York City.  

There was already two samba groups-Samba NY and Manhattan Samba, as well as a Maracatu group.  There are countless marching bands, and Southern style drumlines already all over NYC.  

Then, on October 21st, Stacy reached out to Batala Washington to mark the very first contact to start Batala in New York City.  See the email below! 

Stacy Kovacs Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 1:31 PM

Hello.My name is Stacy Kovacs and I am a drummer here in NYC.  I am a big fan of your group and other groups around the world.  I play withSambaNY!, Maracatu NY, and Manhattan Samba.I am inquiring about starting a Batala New York City.  Ideally all women, like in D.C.I know it will take cash, finding a rehearsal space, and a place to store the drums.  And getting the drums as well.How does one go about discussing this possibility and what it would involve?  Do I need to speak with Giba Gonçalves?Thanks in advance,-Stacy Kovacs

Batala Washington DC <>Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 8:55 PM
To: Stacy

Hi Stacy,
Wow, amazing, grand, oh my god! That is great! It should definitely be all women (and led by a woman)! 😉
I was not one of the founders of the band, so I am forwarding your inquiry on to those people who are better suited to answer this. There are a ton of amazing, enthusiastic women in our band (just like you). One of them will certainly get you started with the details you need.

Eventually, Stacy was put in contact with a woman named Solange who started Batala Washington DC.  She had been a member of Batala Brasilia and moved to Washington DC.  She explained the process of starting a band in the USA, some expectations in terms of gigs and making money-such as business structure, legal problems they initially ran into, and other problems they had at the beginning.  They essentially started Batala Washington in Solange’s garage!