Despite a blistered rear end from sitting on 104-degree granite, the UpTown Drum Circle was such a great success. I have blogged and posted on Facebook about the wonderment of drum circles. Exactly what I had hoped would happen happened last night in UpTown Columbus. Attorneys, bankers, local retailers, PR professionals, grandparents, hippies, media types, belly dancers, children, pierced skin, tattoos, homemade instruments all came together for three hours of communal spirit.
When I first arrived, there was a gorgeous woman in a flowing, thin skirt topped with a black tank top doing cartwheels on the grass of the median in the full spray of the sprinkler system. She was covered with tattoos across her washboard flat stomach and she shot photos during the evening. I don’t know her and didn’t get a chance to meet her.
In the back of the crowd, just out of the action were Emily and Pete Robinson. Pete, in khaki slacks and button-down short-sleeved shirt, represented the group of us who are comfortably situated exactly 180 degrees from the spinner in the sprinklers. I don’t know when I’ve been more proud of my town. I was having so much fun drumming and talking to friends, Joe McClure and Grandin Eakle that I didn’t really do my usually hawk-eyed survey of the crowd to find fodder for this blog.
One of the most heartwarming things I noticed actually happened several times. I watched a middle-aged African American man walk up with two children. Drum major extraordinaire, Dave Holland, engaged the man and offered him an instrument to play. I watched the man put up both palms in a gesture to say “no thanks,” to Dave. “I just want to watch.” I watched his lips form the words.
I went back to the beat and forgot about the watcher. A while later, I looked up and found the man right at the center of the circle pounding away to beat the band on a large drum he had been loaned. His sons had successfully transformed from watchers to drummers, too. A drum circle is a little more public version of the No Shame Theater, withouts a stage or a sign up sheet. Maybe 80 to 100 people came as individuals and left as one, united in a thumping sense of being a part of a diverse, but inclusive community. It felt good, despite a blistered arse.
I watched an obviously hispanic couple arrive without drums. Dave suited them up and, man, that dude turned into a drumming machine. This was definitely not his first rodeo. He was animated, sported a huge grin and exhibited a vocal bit of drumming virtuosity to an appreciative first couple of rows. His female companion played something that looked like a 7″-long, metal empty English pea husk looking thing. She hit it with a drumstick. I liked watching them.
Jill and I have talked about how much fun last night’s drum circle would have been in cool fall weather. It was the hottest day in recorded history in Columbus, Ga. With such a great turnout in the oppressive heat, I’m encouraged by what a regular drum circle can become in the UpTown area. I don’t think the location where it was held is nearly the best spot. I like the plaza area on the north steps of the Government Center. There are stairs, a fountain, plenty of room between the drummers and the street and good structure on which people can sit. It is still near the center of town and would be a much safer place for children to join in the fun.
I can’t wait until the next one!