Saturday, 5 March 2005

Samba in Torino

Again these posts on Torino are part of a newsletter email that I sent to the Rhythms of Resistance list at the time.

We all arrived safely apart from John and Izzy who had a 3 1/2 day London to Torino marathon journey by bus, train, ferry, all in the name of eco-worthiness. They only arrived late last night. Just goes to prove that being good doesn't pay.

We are staying at a migrant help centre in a large heated room, into which are squeezed about 60 sambistas. The Italians are sleeping on the floor with us in a touching display of solidarity.

There's alot of different snoring rhythms at night (I'm definitely a surdo number 2, one of the largest drums) .

Thursday we did an action against state control of fertility centres. The Italian government, led by Berlusconi, have legislated to prevent single women and gay couples from getting fertility treatment. Plus they want to stop people having the choice to test if the foetus has problems, in other words, they are preventing the abortion of disabled children.

In preparation for the action, the Italian samba band made enormous foam needles with which they pretended to inseminate people. We did the action at a registry office for births.

Then we went to Torino university which, European style, is being occupied at the moment. Djs in the hall, cheap food in the foyer. We did a drumming workshop outside.

There have been alot of translation problems of signs and breaks. As samba is so noisy, we communicate and orchestrate the music via hand signals from the 'mestre' or conductor, but this requires that everybody understands them. As someone said Amsterdam Ror has conquered the mainland and us islanders (the London band) are a bit lost, even though we are the original founders of the Ror network. We sounded a mess to be honest.

Friday, we did an action which sounded much better due to the fortuitous arrival of George from London who mestre-d. We spent 40 minutes on a tram to get to a large shopping centre. We played outside a call centre which employs people on a daily contract with no holiday pay, no sickness pay, no notice of termination of employment (nothing has changed since the days of On the Waterfront). This action was against precarity of employment.

Then we moved over to an IBM office. Played. Then all of us knelt down and started praying to IBM.

Security guards surrounded us but the shoppers and staff seemed to enjoy it.

Then back to the university where we did a dance workshop.

There have been films shown at the migrant centre for the last two nights about transgender issues. I watched the first one, but it was all in Italian. Some locals translated for me. One film showed a group of chubby bearded young men talking. After a while a local told me that they were all in fact women.

Beards are popular here not just with transsexuals.

As for food it's quite difficult as our European partners are unaware of the dietary needs of fussy children, vegans, coeliacs, etc etc most of which the London band here seem to be.

Today is carnival day....

Off to buy pizza for breakfast now...

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