Turtle-necked Bettystown resident Cian Brannigan has taken to the social media to announce his disdain for the Drogheda Samba Festival. Mr. Brannigan spent the long weekend agonising over his decision with close friends and family. Originally from Drogheda but embarrassed by it, Mr. Brannigan moved to Bettystown after mortgaging his future on a semi-detached residence during the height of the Celtic Tiger.
A spokesperson for Mr. Brannigan said he had not taken the decision lightly.
“Cian stands by his call to come out against the Samba Festival. He is frankly sick and tired of having his birthday drinks ruined by a soundtrack of dreaded Dereks from Leicester randomly banging on drums and wearing friendship bracelets.”
Mr. Brannigan’s birthday falls on the same weekend as the Samba Festival. During the boom, he was able to city break it at short notice but what with a bank balance sucked dry by austerity, stable fees and the whims of two trophy children, Mr. Brannigan has been forced to celebrate getting older in Drogheda. This year he is deliberating on Cagney’s bar as the venue least likely to tolerate samba. “They have bouncers outside you see, not battle scarred ones like at the sports bar, but intimidating and Eastern European enough to scare away the arts crowd.”
The inaugural Samba Festival sashayed its way into a stagnant Drogheda in 1994, quickly capturing the imagination of a town unused to either brightly coloured clothing or coloured foreigners outside of mass (African missionaries) or the Lourdes hospital (Indian doctors). The celebration of Brazilian music quickly snowballed and it wasn’t long before every bead selling hippy from Ardee to Athlone was sitting on the paths smoking rollies and buzzing like.
Mr. Brannigan in effect grew up with the festival and for a time looked forward to it. The influx of loose ‘arty’ girls was a boon for accountant types like himself who weighed up the chances of an easy shift and a finger against the monotonous drone of the drumming. But countless romantic rejections in favour of bearded guitar players with uncertain financial futures led to a simmering bitterness which eventually boiled over into outright disdain. To the disapproval of his parents, Mr. Brannigan travelled to Brazil for a number of months between accountancy degrees in an attempt to discredit the Samba Festival’s authenticity. The disparity between what he found there and what was masquerading as samba in Drogheda rocked him to his core.
“It’s not even samba, man. I mean most of the music is not even Brazilian! And when it is, it’s rarely samba. I’m as partial to some Sérgio Mendes as the next man and I’ll even put on the Bossa Nova CD I got in the paper to get me in the mood to go shopping. But what these shysters are doing is ramming maracatu into everything and dressing it up as samba. Granted, they’ve repackaged it as Latin and African music too but sure they had to. You can only get away with the same lad in red pants playing Santana for so long. It’s a wonder funding wasn’t cut sooner.”
Claiming to speak for the silent majority, Mr. Brannigan’s call for the festival to remain unfunded is likely to receive the tacit support of the business community. Most samba groups rely on a system of free accommodation in exchange for their ‘music’.
“They don’t have any money and neither do the arty crowd. They’ll bring nothing but an expensive clean up bill for the Borough Council and a town full of sore ears – doctors will be greasing their tills. It’s well known that publicans hate the festival. The average hippy spend last year was down to three pints per fifty hippies. They drive away the normal punter and are bad for wildlife.”
Members of the public mainly supported Brannigan’s stance on social media.
“Most people just want to watch scantily clad Brazilian ladies shaking it about and that’s fine when there are Brazilian samba dancers. But I do object, visually, to dreadlocked hipster hippies from the midlands shaking their pasty pastry bellies on the streets of Drogheda. It’s an eyesore and should be banned or at least contained in some estate on the outskirts of town far from ears and eyes of music lovers.” – Barry Masterson, tennis coach, Bettystown.
“Last year I was guilted into donating money in front of my peers. They all put in two euro. They thought I did too, but I actually took out two euro. The samba crowd loved seeing me. ‘He must really love samba they’d be thinking.’ In fact, I performed this trick so often I’d say I got over €100 which will be donated to Cian’s documentary fund.” – Anonymous, Dublin Road.
“What is the last thing any person wants when they are hung-over? A damn hippie with a whistle and a drum.” – @barrellchestedryan
“The Samba Festival is a great multicultural event that brings a lot to the town. Shame on you.” – @melissabutterfly67
“Prick.” – @superdrogsamba
Drogheda’s small but sizeable Brazilian community try to co-ordinate trips back home with the local celebration of Brazilian music. As Wellington de Punheteiro Broxado told The Faa Side.
“Imagine you are in Brazil and you see that there is a trad festival on. But when you get there instead of some diddly dee you just see Brazilians dressed as Leprechauns playing English folk music. That is what the Samba Festival is like for us.”
As it stands, Samba Festival 2015 has been tentatively pencilled in to the Drogheda social calendar. You can be sure that Mr. Brannigan is standing tentatively nearby with his big samba erasing rubber.
A documentary by Cian Brannigan exposing the fraud of the Samba Festival, Duping Drogheda – How the Fake Samba Crowd Ruin June is due to be screened in the town in May.
And in the interest of balance, Drogheda Samba Festival organizers will be holding a fundraising table quiz in Foleys pub on Thursday 23 April at 9pm at €40 a table. All questions samba based.