Sallie leads the dancers

Samba Galêz has a large and experienced membership with members aged between 18 and 81, and some who have been in the band for over 25 years! We perform all year round – spring parades, summer carnivals, autumn festivals, winter wonderlands – whether it is sunshine or rain! We also enjoy impromptu busking in Cardiff city centre.

It’s a social band, with various sub-groups who go cycling, hiking, play music, or just hang out. We also arrange a weekend away twice a year to a countryside break to socialise with a change of scenery.

The band is led by Simon Preston and the dancers by Sallie MacLennan. We have appeared on TV many times, and in the short film Samba Paloma. The band has also produced two CDs, with more in the pipeline.

Wavy dancers

Samba Galez started in 1990, in the City Centre Youth Project in Charles Street, Cardiff. Until 2001, it was a project organised by South Wales Intercultural Community Arts (SWICA). The band was called the Cardiff School of Samba, or Samba Gales (with an S).

Practice sessions took place on a Sunday afternoon at 4pm, which was a great time. The pubs shut at 3 on Sundays in those days and didn’t re-open until 7.

This dead space on a Sunday was perfect for making a row, especially in the city centre where nobody could hear. At first the sessions were open to anybody who showed up. Soon though, regular players found they couldn’t progress. There were always new people trying to pick up the basics.

This was the beginning of regular Saturday workshops for experienced sambistas. Access courses were organised for new members to get up to speed before joining the main band. Eventually, the band became independent of SWICA.

It also changed its name to Samba Galêz (with a Z). This was mainly because announcers would call us “Samba Gails”. There was no-one in the band called Gail…