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Venice Beach drum circle

Venice Beach drum circle

An Acre Of Peace In A World Of Terror....

Venice Beach Drumcircle


by Marc Madow

(An Acre of Peace in a World of Terror originally appeared in NoHo LA-The Megazine)

It's only about an acre or so on the sands of Venice Beach, where every weekend in a world of turmoil peace breaks out. A few hundred people arrive in mid-afternoon with drums, rattles and everything rhythmic to do what is called the Venice Beach Drumcircle. The drummers, dancers and onlookers escape from CNN, FOX and ABC's version of the world to something rhythmic, healing, mystical and yes, sensual. The phenomenon of the drum circle is exploding in popularity all over the world, but nowhere is it done in the almost Woodstock proportions that are seen on Venice Beach every Saturday and Sunday. While the media exposes new ways that the human race is destroying itself, these people, these members of warring races, religions, and financial strata who would never be seen playing golf together, dance and make awesome music together. You might call it a daytime, outdoor rave, except for the fact that they're not spinning cd's but rather making their own tribadelic thunder. This harmonious mayhem, is a message in a bottle to the world that yes, we can get along.

Venice has long been bohemian. Where else to go when you want a henna tattoo, some fresh sage or to get your name painted on a grain of rice? The drum circle fits into this counterculture potpourri perfectly. It begins to happen in the early afternoon when the first few drummers arrive where Breeze Avenue hits the beach. These guys are the regulars who have been coming from all over the city for years. By one o'clock they begin the "calling of the drums," on their congas, djembes and cowbells and begin to elevate everyone's spirits. More drummers, dancers and onlookers begin to arrive and the group starts to morph into the rough shape of a large circle. By now, burning incense and sage add invigorating aroma to the already intoxicating salt air.

French, German, Spanish, Hindi and Arabic are just a few of the languages you'll hear spoken around the circle by tourists who visit Venice from everywhere. Dancing in the center of the drum circle are these people from everywhere with friends they didn't even know they had. This is a money-free zone where there's nothing to buy and the people are at one with the sun, sky, water and earth. Strangers seem to smile and say "Welcome home."

Children gyrating on their parent's shoulders overlooking the crowd imitate the drummers and dancers. African, Latin and Middle Eastern rhythms are all intertwined into a blend by the leaderless drum circle. Nobody controls the drum circle. The musicians influence and inspire each other and the dancers with their drumming. That's what makes it true spiritual synergy. The crowd and the music build steadily all afternoon toward a climax at sunset. This is when everyone celebrates and cheers the setting sun. It's impossible not to be moved by the hundreds of people, burning sage, dancing, drumming, and playing flutes, horns and bells which crescendo at sunset.

As dusk arrives the drumming continues and an altar for world peace is presented with burning candles and flower petals. As the Venice Beach Drumcircle drums and prays for world peace there may very well be another bomb or bullet shaking the earth somewhere. The hippies had a popular expression which went, "What if they gave a war and nobody came?" The drum circle seems to be trying a variation of this theme by posing,"What if we give a drum circle and everybody comes?" If your life is in need of a little magic, go spend a sunset with the drum circle in Venice.

Further information about the Venice Beach Drumcircle can be found at: www.venicebeachdrumcircle.com and www.crazybeach.com

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