Drum Circles- A Unique Experience

Unique Drum Circle

I had a unique experience over the weekend in Atlanta visiting my son and daughter-in-law, attending a drum circle with a huge bonfire in the middle of the circle. As the temperature was in the 30° range the bonfire was much appreciated, but it is standard fare at these events.

Bongo Drums

source amazon.com
source amazon.com

What is a Drum Circle?

I didn’t know that drum circles are very popular around the world, and there are many different types or purposes of circles. A drum circle of course, has drums with a couple of other instruments in the one we visited. I noticed one person with maracas and one with a tambourine, but the event is definitely about the rhythm of the drums.

If you close your eyes and just listen you can hear the coordination of a predominant rhythm with others using beats that complimented the main rhythm. The rhythm moves you and I really enjoyed the experience. There are many types of drums used, such as Bongo drums, Congo and a drum called Ashiko plus several others types. The drumming I saw was all done by hand.

Rhythm is one of the easiest forms of musical expressions as rhythm flows through our bodies and really around the world. It is so easy for people to join in to this type of music since you really don’t need any special training. You will not see drummer’s sticks. One man told me it is a great stress reliever instead of just playing the drums home alone.

Music Stanza

These drums are typical of the ones I observed at the drum circle.

Percussion Instruments

LPM199-AW LPMC Mini Tunable Natural Wood Bongos
LPM199-AW LPMC Mini Tunable Natural Wood Bongos

LPMC instruments are made of environmentally friendly siam oak and feature Mini Comfort Curve II rims, with natural rawhide heads. This instrument is fully tunable and produces quality tones.

 

This particular place in Atlanta is unique in that the property is owned by members of the community, called Lake Claire Community Land Trust and they have a communal garden on the acreage also. That start at dark and it cost $5.00 to get in. There are no alcohol or drugs allowed. If you start trouble you will be asked to leave. There is one way in and out which makes you feel safe.

You could sense the harmony among the most of the people attending and know that they were regular attendees. As the evening wore on more people showed up and the intensity of the music increased. We didn’t stay as long as we would have liked to due to the cold.

Music Stanza

A marker280 Arizona Avenue Atlanta GA 30307 -
280 Arizona Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307, USA
[get directions]

Percussion Instruments

Toca 2100RR Bongo Drum, Red
Toca 2100RR Bongo Drum, Red

Toca is committed to being green and environmentally-friendly. the wood we use is harvested from a plantation in thailand, where our drums are then lathed and handcrafted by local musicians. this carefully managed resource is much easier on the environment than wood taken from primary forests.

 

There were also a few ladies very adept at belly dancing at this event.  One lady danced over to me as I was standing near the fire for warmth; I must have looked willing as she waved me toward her and quickly told me a couple of basic steps. Yours truly belly danced at a beginner’s level, feeling a little silly but having fun. I’m game to try anything once.

I learned the dancing was all about the knees. You stand and keep your feet straight and fairly close together, then move your knees to the rhythm, which in turn will more your hips, and if you speed up the movement you will be doing a shimmy. It is important to keep the core part of your body still. My daughter-in-law knows how to belly dance, and there are numerous movements that are way beyond me. It was a beautiful, sensuous dance 

Musical Stanza

A Bit of History

Community drum circles are informal gatherings of people who meet for the purpose of playing the drums together.  They often take place in public settings such as parks or at the beach, but many also be organized via a community center or some other location. 

Community drum circles differ from facilitated or conducted drum circles in the music is entirely improvised through the group interaction, which makes it so unique.  There is no leader so the participants make up the music as they go along.  Participation is, of course, to5tally voluntary.  In some groups they may sing or chant.  I also thought it was unique that there were all types of people participating as to race and socioeconomic status, and the music just flowed beautifully.

Drum Circle with Bonfire

Summary

On a personal level, I think the community drumming outside with a bonfire adds a unique element that you probably wouldn’t find in a lit room of a school house or community center. However, since I have not tried any of this before, it is just my personal opinion.

The dark with the bonfire seemed to enhance the feel of the rhythm. We had a lot of fun, much laughter and know I know how to shimmy properly!

The copyright to this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

Comments 37 comments

Partisan Patriot 6 years ago

pamela

Let's circle the drums in 2012 and drum the remaining Commicrats along with the leader of their Regime out of power!


Fiddleman profile image

Fiddleman 6 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

Pamela, drums never really appealed to me but this sound interesting.


tnderhrt23 profile image

tnderhrt23 6 years ago

I have had the privilege of attending two drum circles, both outside, around a bond fire. I found both to be profoundly spiritual, moving experiences. Well written, interesting hub...Thanks!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Patriot, Sounds like a plan! Thanks for the comment.

Fiddleman, I've never had a desire to play drums and still don't but this was just something that was so unique to visit and we had a very good time.

tnderhrt, That is exactly how I felt once I was there a short while and got in tune with the rhythm. Thanks so much for your comment.


mwatkins profile image

mwatkins 6 years ago from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC

Hi Pamela,

Thank you for sharing such a unique experience! Kudos to you for opening your mind to a new experience! We once watched a movie on this exact thing and although the plot was very sad, the intention of the drum circle was not lost on us. In High school my brother enjoyed playing the drums - and anything else nearby when he had drumsticks in his hand (including my head when he got close to me, which always infuriated me), but the closest he came to a drum circle back then was running away from me if he had thumped me on the head with one of his drumsticks.

Thanks, too for your explanation of belly dancing. I had to stand up from my chair to see if I could do it myself. I have to say, it does work - just the way you say it does (and it was fun, too!)

Thanks again - Great job! Thumbs up!


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 6 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

In college we would have pep rallies around the bonfire which was pretty raucus...I've paricipated in every kind of rhythmic circle you can think of,always a treat;)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

mwatkins, Thank your for the great comment. I thought maybe some would try that step because it is so easy and when it's to the beat of the drums by the bonfire it was really was fun.

Mentalist Acer, College years are great. I know you have a lot of good memories from those bonfires. I appreciate your comment.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas

Music is a universal soothing...maybe we should play music during a war! LOL! It is interesting to hear of these drum circles...they sound a bit karma oriented much like the beatnik and hippie activities of the 50's and 60's. Thanks for sharing! WB


Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV

Pamela,

Thank you for rekindling memories of my early teen years. We all carried bongo drums to the Glen Dale Teen Center and played along with the music and it was a magical moment!!!!!!!!!!!!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Wayne, I agree that music is universally soothing. Interesting thought of playing it during a war. Thank you so much for your comments.

Tom, I'm glad I brought you back some pleasant memories. I very much appreciate your comment.


"Quill" 6 years ago

They can be a blessing especially when done with like minded people...

Blessings


carolina muscle profile image

carolina muscle 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

What a cool way to spend a nice autumn evening!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Quill, One of the unique things was the people from various walks of life and the harmony among them. Thanks for your comment.

Chris, It was a really cool experience. Thanks for your comment.


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

YES Pamela this is my world, I LOVE this hub...I have had many experiences the the Native American and after the druming we will smoke the peace pipe in the four directions..rate this up and awesome, your friend and your fan, darski


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Darlene, That is so cool that you had that experience. Thanks for sharing your comments.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

That must have been a real great experience. Thank you for sharing.


debbiesdailyviews profile image

debbiesdailyviews 6 years ago

This was really great for me..

Not only did I once again enjoy reading your freat Hub, I actually did what other reader did- which was test your belly dancing tip,

Hahaha I looked brilliant, just got to find the right music now, as it doesn't bode well with Queen.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Hello, It was a fun experience. Thanks for your comment.

Debbie, Glad the moves worked. You just need some drums! Thanks for your comment.


JY3502 profile image

JY3502 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

Unique, interesting topic Pam.


sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 6 years ago

This sounds like one of those things I'd be reluctant to attend until I got there and experienced it. Thanks for the telling.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

JY, Thank you for your comment.

Sheila, I was uncertain ahead of time but decided to just try it also. Thanks for the comment.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

I've never even heard of events like Drum Circles. Sounds like a unique and fun experience from your descriptions. Was going to listen to the video but it has been disabled, FYI. Thanks for this peek into that event in Atlanta. Rated useful and up.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Peggy, I'll try to check out the video. Thanks for your comments.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

Totally fantastic. Something so primitive & visceral about that. I guess they do play music during a war - martial music, marches and patriotic music to stir the fighters to fight more. A more unifying beat might improve things, though I guess natives of various places have drum-chants to stir up their "troops" too. Music has various languages just as do other forms of expression and communication, I guess.

In the video I noticed that the various drummers' hands are moving almost like dancing - like choreographed hand-dancing. Very beautiful. I'm not a drum-lover either but this was haunting and when the little flute or piccolo joined in, it was sublime!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Nellieanna, Thank you for your comments. It truly was a unique experience. It felt very primal with the rhythms, the dark and the bonfire.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

Very interesting - wonderfully done! Love the musical theme!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Audry, I appreciate your comments.


mahnoor1 profile image

mahnoor1 6 years ago

Interesting :)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

mahnoor, Thank you for your comment.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

Very interesting Hub. Watch out!

Those drums can be hypnotic! :-)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

James, It was a bit hypnotic and a fun, probably one time event for me. Thanks for your comment.


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Very new to me and interesting article - reminded me of a Turkish restaurant we used to go to with friends in Dallas and the belly dancing - was lots of fun.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Billy, It was unique and the belly dancing is fun to watch. Thanks for your comment.


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

Pamela, a great write on an interesting topic. I was in NYC and on the subway platforms there were all kinds of musicians playing and singing for a dime. I got to Times Square and small bands set on the corners Playing as I walked about but the best was 6 young men with plastic 5 gallon buckets clasped between their knees and they were drumming great entertainment, not sure how they varied the sounds but it was way cool. Thanks, Dusty


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Dusty, I was in NYC once when in the subway they were dancing all over the place and it was entertaining. Thanks for your comments.


Support Med. profile image

Support Med. 5 years ago from Michigan

What a fun experience! Hope to attend a drum circle in the near future. Congrats on your belly dancing! Good for you, being open to a new and good experience! I'll try that belly dancing later, I hear it's good exercise, LOL!! Voted and rated.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

Support Med, My belly dancing was quite short lived. Thanks for your comments.

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