After 20 years of drumming, The Faa Side can announce that the Samba Festival is officially dead. A poor turnout for the fundraising quiz in Foleys last week was the final nail in the moribund festival’s coffin. A rival fundraising night for gay marriage equality was set up at the last minute in Sarsfields pub, stealing the samba thunder.
By the bar in Foleys a distraught maracatu drummer stared quietly at his drumstick. A lone tear made it through the crusts on his cheek and splattered onto the drum. By the door, some Samba Mamas nursed a tray of caipirinhas. All of a sudden their drinks didn’t seem so exotic as auld lads escaping the wife for an hour let the cold wind in with them. On the stage, the quizmaster folded his questions and nodded to the barman to make it a double. The Last Post was playing simultaneously but unbeknownst in peoples’ heads and nobody realised there was a deep silence in the bar.
A samba stalwart tried to erase the scoreboard but failed even at that. “I used a permanent marker by mistake, I’ll need some Cif,” his look seemed to say. The grand first prize of some perfumed soap in a wicker basket lay unclaimed at the top table. Nobody seemed to know what to do with it. Ladies who’d spent all afternoon in the hair salon realised they’d wasted valuable afternoon talkshow time; there would be no snap in the local press to cut out next week.
Over in Sarsfield’s rival conga lines throbbed their way through the lounge. A spray painted Yes to Equality elephant trunk-delivered the quiz questions through the window. The winner of the trouserless limbo dancing competition ordered a round of Penis Coladas for everyone. Like wildfire, a rumour spread that Madonna was in the front bar lending her support causing a surge that was only averted when a quick thinking barman flashed up images of Judy Garland on the big screen behind the crush, stemming the tide. Damage was minimal though ambulances were called for Vivian, whose shoes were scuffed, and Ralph, whose hair was badly frazzled in the melee. Trisha Boltons Queer, Drogheda’s answer to Shirley Temple Bar, called for calm and thanked everyone for turning out so stylishly to the €250 per table fund raiser before beginning the quiz.
“Question one. What is the best musical?
Question two. In what year was Drogheda’s mayor imprisoned for wearing Tickle Me Pink robes?
Question three. Was Drogheda’s first glory hole in
a) Johnny Logan’s pub
b) The Tassles
c) The Well
d) The Fisherman’s Wharf?”
Back in Foley’s pub the sombre mood was giving way to the first sparks of anger as the drink began to take effect. Fagged fingers were pointed at the anti-samba campaign being conducted by Bettystown man Cian Brannigan. “He no more gives a shit about the gays or equality than my tits,” asserted festival organiser Val. “He fucken knew well we had this table quiz planned so he did.”
With only two tables turning up (an €80 windfall), a decision was made to cancel the 2015 Samba Festival. A list was drawn up and the organisers placed calls to the traditional samba hotspots of Birmingham, Sweden, Cambridge, Cork, Singapore and Belfast to inform the participants.
Speaking from a position of victory in the secret smoking room in Sarsfields, local anti-samba campaigner Cian Brannigan had this to say.
“In fairness to myself, co-ordinating the gay equality fund-raiser to coincide with the samba table quiz was an inspired piece of campaigning. But then I’ve my finger on the pulse so I knew the gays would come out in force. I saw the date and thought – the Thursday night a week before the Arts Festival? The gays will be wanting to dry ride their new costumes before the big weekend. So a few phone calls led to a social media campaign and before I could say Carmen Miranda all of the LGBT community apart from the T’s were out in force.
Is it a shame the Samba Festival is gone? No. It’s a good thing for the town and for real samba lovers like myself. They’ve had twenty years of tax payers money. Enough is enough. When the festival started in 1994 nobody knew what samba sounded like. But with the internet now you can expose these spoofers more easily. Maybe they’ll come back next year with a better package that’s actually based around samba and I’d waive my consultancy fee if they came to me for help. I don’t punish the vanquished.
If you’re going to choose between gayness and samba, the town’ll choose gayness every time; you still get to wear the colourful clothes but don’t have to listen to the drums. I’d like to thank Drogheda Civic Trust for allowing us to put a gravestone on the plot I purchased for the festival in the Cord Road Cemetery in 1997. It’s a fitting place to remember a relic of Drogheda’s past. They’re doing such a great job restoring the place.
While I believe in equality for all creeds and persuasions and will definitely be voting in the gay marriage referendum, I think the most important thing is that the Samba Festival has been crushed. And if they don’t believe that I genuinely support equality look [holds up smart phone], I’ve got loads of videos of lesbians saved on my phone.
And with that, Mr. Brannigan returned to his cigar and re-entered the gay sympathiser VIP section in the beer garden.