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Crowds, bands, dancing, costumes – CubaDupa delivers

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Dancers perform for the Cuba Dupa crowd on Ghuznee Street on Saturday. Picture: Nichola Scarlett.

Report by Nichola Scarlett
After two years of false starts, Cuba Dupa 2021 delivered with a bang, as an estimated 120,000 people flocked to the central city on Saturday.

The sun beamed down on Cuba and nearby streets that were full of colourful costumes and people dancing to bands ranging from indie, rock, Maori, and brass, electronica and more on every corner.

After two years of reduced or cancelled events due to Covid-19 and the mosque attacks, everyone seemed to be smiling.

It was the biggest Cuba Dupa yet, with 20 parades and 500 performances by more than 1750 artists over the two-day event. There were 20 stages on or nearby Cuba Street and many creative zones that attracted crowds from morning to night.

Festival director Gerry Paul and his team were overwhelmed with the support from the community.

“It’s the busiest we’ve ever seen Cuba Dupa, and the atmosphere was electric. We just feel so lucky to be able to host the most diverse and creative festival in New Zealand, and what we know to be the biggest festival in the world right now.”

Artists and festival-goers were rapt about the vibe.

Drag artist Kingmarkiss said it was great to be able to wear what they wanted and be who they were.

“No one is judging you. Everyone is here to have a good time and Cuba Dupa is such a nice reminder of the inclusivity and diversity that Wellington showcases.”

Festivalgoers Matty White and Sarah MacDougall, who live nearby, said they woke early to the sound of clucking chickens on Saturday morning.

“While there can be some bizarre sights, there is nothing quite like it and it is so special that we are one of the only countries who are able to do this right now,” said McDougall.

A spokesperson for the Wellington City Citadel Salvation Army Band, which played outside the Salvation Army Headquarters on upper Cuba Street on Sunday, said there was nothing like it.

“We perform weekly at the markets and our church; however, nothing is quite as exciting as the crowd here, we get a great response and the overall atmosphere is just awesome.”

Nichola Scarlett is a journalism student at Massey University in Wellington.

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