The colourful crowd took a back route into the station, and when in the entrance of the Eurostar Terminal, the banner was unfurled and the MASSIVE samba band got straight into it. Loads of us had never played together, but the statement, energy and rhythm was there.
The police joined us sharpish, and a few official looking people huffed and puffed about. Commuters couldn't help but take an interest, and the friendly cameras were rolling.
We were penned in a bit - only 2 ways to go; the way we came in, and a wall of doors with suits marching about in front. Ah, but they missed one. The door was tried and as it opened, by the looks on the faces, it was like a ray of light shone over us freedom fighters. This was followed by a bit of a stampede, and we were through. A few police tried to catch us like shephards would their sheep, but we all got in the passport control, and the beat went on.
The tune finally stopped to calls of "No borders, no nation, no to deportation", and the growing numbers of police circled us. They wanted to say something. We wanted to discuss stuff between ourselves.
A train had come in, and the passengers wanted to get off, but the police were worried about their safety (or was it the image of the company that needed protecting?!).
Having decided we probably would not be able to get to the holding cells, and that the press should really be there, we eventually got up off the floor and kind of moved to the sides. The police started getting a bit wound up, but the vibrant dancers kept up the sweet, playful vibe. Uh, there was this robocop character who had a video camera in his helmet. His penetrating stare scanned the hall. It felt like his look melted a bit of my soul.
And the still photographers. The fit team must fill rooms with photos of us. Maybe they do know we are future heros.
The passengers filtered passed to our intersected calls and powerful samba rhythms. The passers-by looked pretty confused and surprised, and I'm sure we were added to a few holiday photo albums!
We headed to leave with the last few, but the police were all around the doors, hedging us in and funnelling us through. Then we were separated; 14 of us left on the other side.
Everyone seemed a bit unsure of what to do next, but those on the other side spotted us. There was a scuffle. One was wielding a batton.
A sambista carrying a hefty drum had been pushed, bringing down another sambista and sending his glasses flying.
The drums started up and eventually there were grunts of 'one at a time'. We linked hands and passed through the doors to yet more cameras.
Finally we were back out and we all walked free; marching and drumming down the road. Nice one.
*The band had met the Serbian woman in Belgrade when we went to the PGA at the end of July. One of the sambistas' objectives was to do some outreach in the Roma community nearby. We gave daily workshops; passing on a means for the people to express their rage, and be heard.
We invited a few of the Roma people we had met, and a Serbian translator, to come to the ESF to network with representatives from other Roma communities and support groups.
The Serbian translator did finally get the visa after huge efforts.
BY A SAMBISTA