Rhythms of Resistance take some of their inspiration from the “blocos-afros” bands (e.g. Olodum or Ilê Aiyê) that emerged in the mid-1970s in Salvadore, in the Bahia region of Brazil. These bands were formed as expressions of black awareness, in defiance of a military dictatorship which viewed any “cultural” group as potentially “communist” and ruthlessly suppressed them. Blocos-afros bands were responsible for blending traditional samba rhythms with reggae, salsa and merengue to create the samba style now known as Samba Reggae. Today many of these bands still campaign for freedom, human rights and equal opportunities, and fight against social injustice and racism
The first Rhythms of Resistance band formed 2000 in London, in reaction against the repression of Reclaim The Streets happenings by the police. Rhythms of Resistance formed as part of the UK Earth First action against the IMF / World Bank in Prague in September 2000. A Pink and Silver carnival bloc, focused around a 55 piece band, detached itself from a march of 67000 and outmanouvered police resources defending the IMF annual summit. With an international ’black bloc’ and a large contingent from the Italian movement, ’Ya Basta’, three diverse forms of direct action worked towards a common goal and resulted in the shut down of the IMF summit. From then on, along with the movement against capitalist globalisation, one group after the other popped up – now we’re all over Europe and occasional in the rest of the world.
Currently, there are bands all over the world
The Rhythms of Resistance (RoR) network of activist samba drum bands comprises more than 30 separate activist samba drum bands all over the world. RoR is descended from the pink and silver “tactical frivolity” bloc (aka the “silly stunts and fluffy stuff” section) of the anti-Globalisation campaigns of the 1990s and early 2000s. As such, the use of tactical frivolity, carnival and creativity are a defining hallmark of bands in the RoR network (it is also why many of the bands in the RoR network wear pink when out and about).
All the bands in the RoR network play the same tunes and try and use the same hand signals. This means at large events, different bands can join up to form a large and exuberant bateria.
RoR bands work on a decentralised and democratic basis. All decisions within each band are made by consensus. No-one is “in charge” and those who have just joined the band have the same voice as those who have been members for many years. Each band operates independently, joining campaigns and actions that they themselves support, but they may join together for national demos etc. At large events, where multiple bands meet up and play together, mestres may come from any of the bands present, swapping in and out as mood and movement takes them.
Although each band in the network is a independent entity answerable only to its members, they all share some common beliefs and values that define the Rhythms of Resistance network as a whole :