Venice Beach Drum Circle, November 17, 2013
Venice Beach Drum Circle
November 17, 2013
video copyright (c) 2013 William Schaeffer
I've been participating the Venice Beach drum circle for at least 15 years on an irregular basis. It is the most fun drum circle that I have attended, although my experience is limited. If you are ever in California and like to drum, be sure and stop by on a Sunday afternoon. The drum circle goes from about 2, or 3 (in the summer) till 10 or 15 minutes past sundown.
The beach closes at sundown and the police always help us end the evening in a group drumming and siren performance. We are sad to see it end, but the drumming has to end sometime.
As the sun sets, the drummers become more focused and animated in their drumming. The beauty of the sunset and the knowledge that the day is ending adds a special urgency to the final drumming performance of the night. Even the birds are more active, flying up and down the coast looking for a place to roost for the night.
The drummers are hot, the dancers are lively, and the music is relentless. Even though they are drumming at a rapid pace, the drummers are not tired. As the tempo starts to slack a new drummer takes over and vigorously energizes the circle to an even greater speed and power. We are feeling the joy of rhythm and motion, of sun and sand, in a group of fun loving like minded minstrels smiling and laughing and dancing to the relentless pounding of the drums. The moment seems like it will last forever and the mighty power of the drums will continue unabated. We are joyous and free.
But as the sky darkens, we see in the distance a small caravan of official police vehicles with the emergency lights flashing. They are silently crawling along the beach toward the drum circle.
The drummers know the moment cannot last, but they drum vigorously and intently with the desire to continue drumming all night if they have to.
Finally the police trucks silently pull up with their lights flashing and high beams blinding the drummers. Their presence animates the drummers to greater heights of energy and determination. For several minutes the drummers and trucks stand in uneasy confrontation and eventually the sirens begin. As if unable to resist the joy of drumming the police sirens release an incessant wailing over the pounding of the drums. The drummers become even more animated and the tempo continues. Everyone is laughing and dancing and pounding the drums and time seems suspended in an energetic dynamo of activity.
FINALLY, the end cannot be resisted and by some unseen signal all the drummers simultaneously play the standard finishing cadence. The sirens continue for a while as the people clap and cheer. Then everyone slowly drifts away, carrying their drums and their memories across the sand and into the darkness of their ordinary lives on another pleasant Sunday evening at Venice Beach. Ashe. Namaste.
We are thankful for the chance to drum and grateful for the space and time permitted. Ideally, we are respectful and clean up after afterwards... leaving an opportunity to drum again.
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