Saturday, 3 October 2015

Travels Reboot: Drums and Fire

Clash of Drums

Emerging from the cordite cloud
It's a long time since I have posted to this blog. It faded away for a number of reasons, but now I'm back! I retired this week and will have more time to share some of my trips out.  I start with a massive expedition, as I travelled all of 3 miles to Central Milton Keynes to capture the first night of the Clash of Drums.

Flamethrowers maintain the performance space
In case you missed it, the Rugby World Cup has come to England this year. More specifically, it has arrived in Milton Keynes at the Stadium MK and the rest of the city is getting involved. A partnership between music venue The Stables and the Milton Keynes International Festival have brought French and Spanish Basque Drummers to join in the celebrations.

Danbor Talka is a show put together by French group Les Commandos Percu and Basques Deabru Beltzak, in which the two companies "fight" their way through the streets to a show platform, where they perform a spectacular finale with additional lights and fireworks.

The show started in Lloyds Court and made its way along Secklow Gate, passing between the 2 parts of the Shopping Centre, and towards the Xscape building.

..and response
Pausing at various times, surging backwards and forwards they fought with sound and fire, to the great excitement of the crowds and occasional consternation of small children in the crowd some of whom were finding the loud noises a bit too much to bear.

Teams stalk by...
I was most impressed by the crowd control as space was made in the crowd by marching outriders carrying flame throwers.  OK, maybe not actual flame throwers, but certainly burners generating great streams of sparks and light. Nobody lingered too close to test the heat of the output.  They really should try these on the hills in the Tour de France and other grand tours, as the competitors might then get the space to race! (and come to think of it, they wouldn't get in spitting distance either!).

Group members, defined by their tribal make-up and costume stop at intervals to interact. They issue challenges to their opponents and fight out their combat with sound and fury, emerging from and retreating into a cloud of smoke and the strong evocative smell of cordite.
 Drumsticks become fireworks, fireworks become drumsticks and flashing lamps of varying sizes stun and confuse the watchers.

The finale begins
 With a flourish of fireworks, the teams regroup and march on, glaring at the bystanders and taunting their opponents with sound. Nearby streetlights have bee extinguished, adding to the atmosphere and enhancing the impact of the light show.
 One final stop at the junction by the Food Centre and the Xscape building for last street fight.
Crowds jostle for a prime position to see the action, children sit on parents shoulders, awed by the sights or cowed by the noise.
Finally the parade gathers one last time and trailed and flanked by the crowd, the Drummers turn into the Point Car Park and parade onto the stage.

 The stage show was vibrant with lights and fire and a variety of percussion instruments, played with sticks, beaters, fire sticks and lids, drumming on drums oil drums, hubs, barrels and
 a variety of other instruments including a large implement resembling and oversized Hawaiian guitar played with a large bottleneck and drumsticks. It made an amazing impact.

 The show drew to a close with a finale of rockets, Catherine wheels and handheld mortars.
After about an hour the show drew to a close with an encore as the drums paraded from the stage.  People reluctantly drifted away.  They probably dispersed quicker than the pall of cordite smoke, which seemed to follow me home. I could definitely smell it drifting though the car vents as I passed Oakgrove and Monkston.

fencing with the handheld mortars