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Batons of St. Joseph (Batutas de São José)

Lúcia Gaspar
Joaquim Nabuco Foundation Librarian
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The Bloco Carnavalesco Misto Batutas de São José  (Batons of St Joseph Mixed Carnival Group) was founded on 5 June 1932, at 33 Pátio de São Pedro (Recife), with a lively party by the band 21º Batalhão de Caçadores (21st Battalion of Hunters).

It arose as a breakaway of Batutas da Boa Vista (Batons of Boa Vista) and is the oldest mixed Carnival group still active in Recife.

The story of the group has been told through the songs of composer and Carnival performer João Santiago dos Reis, who was inspired by the daily events of the organisation. He has paid homage to important players of the organisation, such as founder Augusto Bandeira, in the song A vitória é nossa (Victory is Ours); Edite, a mainstay in the feminine wing of the group, in Edite e o cordão (Edith and the Chord); Osmundo, a barber who was always the group’s lead güiro (scratcher), remembered in the song Reminiscência (Reminiscence); Levino Ferreira, one of the most important street-frevo composers of the Pernambuco Carnival, in Escuta Levino (Listen to Levino).

The biggest commercial success of the Batutas, however, was the song Você sabe lá o que é isso (You Know What This Is), also by João Santiago, written for the 1952 Carnival and became to be known as the group’s anthem:

Eu quero entrar na folia, meu bem (I want to join the party, my dear)
Você sabe lá o que é isso (You know what this is)
Batutas de São José, isso é (Batons of St Joseph, this is)
Parece que tem feitiço (It’s like a spell)
Batutas tem atrações que, (Batons have attractions that)
Ninguém pode resistir (Nobody can resist)
Um frevo desses bem faz,(A frevo song like this makes )
demais a gente se distinguir (us all fell so well)

Deixe o frevo rolar (Let the frevo go on)
Eu só quero saber, se você vai brincar (I just want to know, if you’re going to join in)
Ah! Meu bem sem você não há carnaval (Ah! My dear without you there’s no Carnival)
Vamos cair no passo e a vida gozar (Let’s get lost in the dancing and enjoy life) 

Past-members of the group, besides João Santiago and Levino Ferreira, were other great composers like Edgard Moraes, Nelson Ferreira and Álvaro Alvim.
João Santiago conducted the orchestra Jazz do Batutas de São José (Batons of St Joseph Jazz), in 1958. From 1959, it became under the direction of maestro Mário Guedes da Silva.

Nowadays, the group is watched and administrated by former members. Young people have forgotten it, and no longer take part.

The current base is located in the neighbourhood of Afogados and its only sources of income are from Sunday balls and a grant from the Recife City Council.

The lack of initiative from public powers, administrative debts and the abandonment by the majority of benefactors has put the survival of the organisation in risk, after such a long tradition and so many contributions to the Recife Carnival and to the culture of Pernambuco.

Recife, 29 June 2004.
(Updated on 21 August de 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, January 2011.

SOURCES CONSULTED:

GUERRA, Rafael. Batutas deseja recuperar o feitiço. Jornal do Commercio, Recife, 13 jun. 2004. Cad. C, p. 3.
 
SILVA, Leonardo Dantas. Carnaval do Recife. Recife: Fundação de Cultura Cidade do Recife, 2000. 321 p.

HOW TO CITE THIS TEXT:

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Batutas de São José (Botons of St. Joseph). Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.

 

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