For 25 years a Chorley-based samba drumming band has been wowing audiences with their unique beats. Alma Stewart chats to two of SambAfriq’s members learning more about the not-for-profit group
It all started with couple Steve and Julia Davies decided that instead of travelling to Manchester to play the samba drums, they would create their own group in Chorley and encourage the local community to join in. And 25 years later the group now consists of 30 members aged from six to 70 with a recent addition of South American dance.
Assistant director, Kody Roberts, has been a member for nine years, starting at seven years old. He said: “My grandma joined the group following a workshop held at her workplace. I was desperate to go and once I saw them playing, I had to be part of it and haven’t stopped since. This year we have played at a number of local events including Rivington Festival of Light Chorley Live and Chorley Flower Show, but we also perform further afield in Preston and Wigan. We all have so much fun.”
The group meets for practice each Friday evening where anyone is welcome to turn up and join in with the Afro Brazilian beats. New members do not need prior experience, just the enthusiasm to join in and make new friends. Spare drums and sticks are available to use.
A recent addition to the group is dance classes led by instructor Danny Henry. Danny is a previous Brazilian Carnival winner and his energetic style guarantees fun even for the owners of two left feet. You can join in with his sessions every Friday too.
Melissa Cook joined the group in May after seeing the band perform at a local event. “I absolutely loved the drumming and really wanted to join,” she said, “and after changing jobs, I had the time to join the Friday night practice. For me, it’s three hours of mindfulness, bashing out all the stress of the week to set me up for the weekend. It’s like a family – everyone is so welcoming.”
The drumming also encompasses cultures from around the world and includes bhangra, drum and bass and even House music. Kody said: “We love to embrace the different styles from around the globe and fuse it together. It also offers an opportunity to learn about different cultures and how their music moves them. Next year, our director, Emma, will be going to the carnival in Brazil and bringing back her findings to share will us all.”
As well as busking to raise money for their chosen charity this year, Chorley Help the Homeless, you can catch the band in action at the Chorley Christmas lights switch on Sunday 19th November in the town’s centre.
Kody added: “SambAfriq is a great group for people to be a part of not only for the drumming and dancing, but for the friendly community we have created. If anyone is interested in joining us, please come down on Friday evening at the Lancaster Way Community Centre where a warm welcome awaits.”
Lancaster Way Community Centre
Preston PR7 7LJ