“I am the Samba Queen”
You’ve admired her at the carnival, you may have even wished to be her as she danced past you wearing nothing but feathers and 4 inch sparkly heels. The Samba Queen is chosen for her beauty, ease of expression and samba abilities but most importantly she must have the “carnival spirit”. StyleAble spoke to this year’s Samba Queen, Bibi Badejo, about why she took up Samba and her preparations for the Notting Hill Carnival.
“It all started when I visited Rio Carnival, Brazil in 2009. It was such an amazing experience and I remember thinking how beautiful the girls who were dancing there were. Their foot work was fast and complicated and there was no way that I could keep up or copy them – they were dancing samba.At that point I made a decision to take up samba classes back in the UK.
Samba has been brilliant exercise for me, especially in terms of stamina and endurance – it really does keep you young. I now take classes at the Paraiso School of Samba, which has all age groups, anything from 20 – 50! Despite the various ages, everyone looks amazing. I think it is because samba is brilliant for stress release. We dance to the bateria, which is a live Brazilian samba band – dancing to live music has a completely different feel.
(Photo above from left: Alex Davey, Designer at Samba Paraiso, Henrique Da Silva, President of Samba Paraiso, Bibi Adejo, Samba Queen. All photos taken with the new LG G3 camera phone, with an Instagram filter on the video #bloggertools).
“Despite being made Samba Queen, I keep my samba dancing and my day job completely separate. During the day I am a barrister, which is quite an antiquated and traditional profession. I have compartmentalised both – going from one world to another. After a long hard day at work, it feels good to do something that is so different – there are no barriers and it gives me a real sense of life balance.
I train 3-4 times a week and I rarely sleep! My job is pretty full on and once I leave work, I go straight into my ‘samba life’. It is not unusual for me to start my day at 7.30am and go to bed at 2.00am. It sounds tough, but it is manageable. It keeps me focused and I have been doing it for 4 years now, so I am used to it.
Before I became the Paraiso Samba Queen, I danced with the Ala Passistas. We would do shows at venues around London including Guanabara and Cargo. I also danced at various carnivals around the UK. I love dancing with the Paraiso School because everybody is welcome, not everyone is from Brazil and there are varying levels too. I remember seeing the Paraiso dancers at Cargo for the first time, they were so beautiful and I thought “That’s going to be me!”
I have to say that training is not always easy. I love dancing samba in part because of the performance aspect, but it can take time to really master a routine and there is always more to do.
We are currently preparing for the Notting Hill Carnival and I want to look the best that I can. I have been working on my foot work and listening to the music to get it down pat.
The point of being the Queen of Samba is to look as serene and as beautiful as possible – not sweaty and tired! My outfit is a secret until the day of the carnival and luckily I can pull on the resources around me at the school, from help with posing, to freestyling to hair!
On the day of the carnival I will be leading the bateria, but I will also be led by them too. It is a partnership where we will be perfectly aligned. There is a point in every carnival where I feel like I am part of the music, the beat, the rhythm everything – I feel like the bateria are mine! It feels electric and my aim is to externalise all of that for the people watching at Notting Hill!”
Bibi’s top tips for what to bring to the Notting Hill Carnival:
- Lip gloss
- A friend
- Ibuprofen gel for feet (my heels will be 4 inches high!)