A celebration of sound and dance


Words: Tracy Knox ǀ Photos: Courtesy SA Tattoo

Thursday, 5 September - South African Tattoo ended off their final show on a high note as they performed to a capacity crowd at Montecasino, Johannesburg, and brought the night alive with the sounds of massed pipes and drums.

Now in its fifth year, the SA Tattoo has grown in stature and popularity, with more than 90,000 people having enjoyed the multi-cultural and multi–national performances. In addition to the fantastic local line-up, the show also featured international performers from as far afield as Taiwan, France and Switzerland.

The hauntingly beautiful sounds of the traditional massed pipes and drums filled the night sky and set the tone for the evening ahead. For the first time ever in South Africa, there was a dance-off between the Highland and Irish dancers, two very different forms of dance. Other acts included the champion of champions - St Dominics Drum Majorettes, South African Police Service Band Tshwane, National Ceremonial Guard Band, Code Red Drum Corps, and the iconic SA rock band Just Jinjer. There were also two unique international acts; the Ten Drum Percussion Group from Taiwan and Top Secret Drum Corps from Switzerland.

One of the many highlights of the evening included the Code Red Drum Corps. Based in Johannesburg, the Corps was formed in 2007 after being inspired by the Top Secret Drum Corps. Since then, the corps has developed into one of the most sought-after drumming groups in South Africa - and with good reason too. Their youthful attitude, energy and drumming prowess made this act a real crowd pleaser.

Suitably impressed by our local corps, the Top Secret Drum Corps took drumming to a whole new level and had the audience on its feet in awe of their skill, speed, and slick routine. Renowned the world over for their unique blend of American-Scottish-Basel styles, Top Secret is a top international act that has won the hearts of global audiences for more than 20 years! As the group’s touring schedule is now limited to only a few select events, the return of this global entertainment phenomenon was a major coup. 
Another act that wowed the crowds was the Ten Drum Percussion Group, with their traditional drumming that incorporates dance moves and martial arts poses. It was pure energy from start to finish. Since being formed in 2000, the group has performed at the Summer Olympics in Sydney, at the opening of the 2002 World Cup soccer finals in Korea, and given more than 300 performances across Taiwan. In 2004, the group broke a Guinness World record when 1899 people played 1951 drums for 30 minutes in the Tainan Municipal Stadium. The Ten Drum Percussion Group scored a 2009 Grammy nomination in the Best Traditional World Music Category.

Just Jinger delighted the audience with their performance, and listening to them, it is easy to understand why they are one of the biggest rock bank exports in South African history. Previously based in Los Angeles for eight years, Just Jinger has toured internationally with mega stars U2, Counting Crows and Def Leppard, and performed for thousands of adoring fans at concert venues across the globe.

Negotiations are underway to tour this popular show to other South African cities, so if SA Tattoo comes to your town, make sure you are first in line to buy tickets because this is one show that won't disappoint.

More about SA Tattoo

1. What is a Tattoo?

 A Tattoo is an event that exhibits a country’s cultures through music and dance; strength of identity through the passion of the production; morale through the stirring sights and sound of massed musicians and unity for a common cause. The SA Tattoo echoes this philosophy and affixes our own diversity of cultures allowing us to showcase our South African identity proudly and positively through the wonderful talents of our people. The tradition of a Tattoo has been adopted in most major cities throughout the world. Cities like London, Moscow, Berlin, Oslo, and Dubai all produce successful Tattoos. The most famous of all is the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. First staged in 1950, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo draws an international audience of over 200 000 people and reaches a television audience of another 100+ million viewers worldwide annually.

2. The cast

The SA Tattoo features new, fresh and original performances at every show annually. Although most of the groups are made up of amateurs, their performances have an entertainment value that would rival most professional artists. South African’s proudly make up over 90% of the performers. The Tattoo is structured to not only provide a much needed platform for these performers to promote their talent, but moreover it facilitates an atmosphere whereby the audience learn to understand, appreciate, respect and enjoy the performer’s cultural and traditional diversity. The SA Tattoo becomes a truly global stage as top international performers and groups participate alongside our finest local talent. It is important for South African’s to have an appreciation and awareness of world cultures, traditions and showmanship. The SA Tattoo has featured performers from the USA, Burundi, New Zealand, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom.

3. The creative team

The creative team is managed by Simon Carter, Executive Producer who is assisted by Shendl Leahy, Marketing Director; Anthony Evans, Creative Director, Rory Bellingan, Producer; Gavin Anderson, Technical Director; Eddie Clayton, Musical Director and Andy Dippenaar is the Narrator. The creative team has worked with the production teams at the Basel Tattoo, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, The Moscow Military Tattoo – Kremlin Zoria, and the Norwegian Tattoo. 

4. Volunteer programme

The SA Tattoo Production Team has approximately 60 volunteers to help at each Tattoo. The simple and well co-ordinated volunteer system allows volunteers to experience the behind-the-scenes life of the Tattoo as well as assist in various tasks such as technical co-ordination and assistance, cast and public relations and the selling of merchandise.


For more information, visit www.satattoo.co.za or go to You tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xq3NYbKRf80

Follow this link to view the gallery: http://www.doitnow.co.za/content/celebration-sound-and-dance-0