I love the energy, when the drums kick in. In the midst of a protest our samba band can create an autonomous space. It lets people be themselves. No one is in charge, certainly not the police. At the big anti-war marches there can be up to 150 people in the band. I'm at the front, directing them.
It can be scary when the police trundle on to the streets with batons and water cannons. It's frightening if you've seen what they're capable of. We counter that with 'tactical frivolity'. It's serious, but not too serious.
There's something very primal about hitting a drum. Generally, in our bands, women go for the huge drums. Men prefer the snare, a drum that's more technical.
After all that noise, you need the opposite. Quiet makes me happy, as do green spaces and spending time with my partner. After eight and a half years of samba, it's necessary. What makes me happiest is knowing there is more choice in life than the sides offered. Government and companies tell us how to live. Instead of feeling disempowered, I know there's more out there.
The samba is symbiotic. The people dancing join with the drummers. There's so much energy, anything is possible. We get rammed and corralled by police. We just remember they're people who happen to be wearing riot gear. Samba means happiness. The louder it is, the happier we are.