Arco Iris means “rainbow” in Portuguese. We began life in 1993 with a one-off performance of Capoeira and Samba at the Mumford theatre in Cambridge. The following autumn the band got back together to learn more Brazilian and Cuban carnival music. We had a small start up grant from Cambridge City Council, but have been completely self supporting since 1994.
At any one time there are about 60 paid up members and nearly 200 on our mailing list. The membership ranges in age from age 18 to 70 and reflects the population of Cambridge: very multicultural, many students, a few unemployed and a smattering of college lecturers. There are semi-professional musicians and people who have never touched an instrument in their lives, and it isn’t always easy to tell who’s who!
We play Brazilian carnival pieces such as Batucada, Samba Reggae, and a wide variety of other styles, many written by band members. We play about 30 gigs a year and we have been regulars at samba festivals and events in Ireland, Wales and Paris. We are known for creating a wild party atmosphere and getting everyone dancing.
Arco Iris is run by an annually elected committee of members who are responsible for finance, costumes, gig bookings, transport, accommodation, looking after the instruments and training new leaders.