The Croydon Bloco comes to the Croydon Heritage Festival and boy, are they excited!

By 20th June 2014General heritage

By Kinetika Bloco

In partnership with Croydon Youth Service, Kinetika Bloco, a carnival inspired youth band and charity have spent the last two months working with some of Croydon’s local young people on an outreach programme to create a drumming band you can all be proud of. In this, the latest in our Heritage Festival blog series, Shayanna Dyer-Harris takes us through the inspiring journey that has culminated in the Croydon Bloco.

The Croydon Bloco will be performing at the Croydon Heritage Day as a part of the celebration of Croydon’s history and future.

The Kinetika Bloco is a performance group with an exuberant mix of young brass and woodwind players, drummers, steel pan and dynamic dancers all in costume creating a “unique new British Carnival sound with a decidedly London edge” (BBC Radio2). We draw our influences from the Caribbean, Brazil, West and Southern Africa, New Orleans jazz, Funk and Hip Hop. Our members create the work with a team of professional tutors and help to lead the organization. In the last few years we have represented London as part of the ‘Beijing 2008’ Olympic Cultural Festival, as well as performing at the London Jazz Festival, Thames Festival, The South Bank and at the Unveiling of the Nelson Mandela Statue at Parliament Square.

The project in Croydon was to work with at-risk young people in different parts of the Borough to create an ensemble band to be named the Croydon Bloco. It began this April with a full week of workshops with 10 young people from the Norwood Junction area. A team of 5 young leaders from Kinetika Bloco delivered the daily workshops at the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Centre where participants learnt a number of ensemble drumming songs and developed their own signature piece on Brazilian samba drums. The last day of their intensive music-making Easter school culminated in a performance on South Croydon high street, which was definitely a highlight for them all, their family, their friends and for the locals that stopped to watch and support them: the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Bloco, together with a group of Kinetika Bloco woodwind and brass players, blew them away with the music they had developed.

This part of the project finished with a session in leadership; developing leadership skills and how they can build on the skills they have. The best thing about the project is that the young people from this part of the project also had the opportunity to lead in the next part of the project: part two – Goldcrest Youth Centre.

With the help of one of the young people from the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor centre, the leaders from Kinetika Bloco have started the second part of the project with 12 young people that go to Goldcrest youth Centre in New Addington. They are currently in the process of developing some original music with these young people.

Both Bloco’s are like two sides of the same coin; together they are the Croydon Bloco and they have been and still are working hard to create music that truly represents their creativity, identity and unity. Coming from two very different parts of Croydon, these young people will demonstrate the great level of team-work it took to create something special and unique.

We’d like to thank Jess at the Croydon Youth Service for the hard work she’s put in to make this project happen! And a big thanks to Sound connections for the funding and continued support on making sure this project took place.

So come out and support your local young people in their debut performance on the 21st June, 2.30pm, where they come together as not just as two separate groups, but as Corydon’s very own Bloco. We hope that this is only the beginning of their musical journey.

The Croydon Bloco will perform at Croydon Heritage Day on 21 June at 2:30pm on the main stage in North End. Click here to find out more about the day.