Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Every Sunday afternoon from spring through fall, people began gathering at the Drum Circle in Prospect Park and started a rhythm – like the heartbeat of the neighborhood - that lasted until dark.  There was all kinds of percussion – shakers, rattles, bells, maracas, wooden boxes, and sometimes steel drums.  The Drum Circle was just down the block from where I lived, and as more percussionists arrived it got louder.  Eventually, about a hundred people showed up for playing, dancing, and watching.  95% of the drummers were male, but there was one fabulous female drummer.  Most of the dancers were female, but men danced as well.  

Youtube video of the Drum Circle:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nwB4SLALf4

The Drum Circle is actually a designated area of the Prospect Park and there’s a semi-circle of 18 benches made of oak logs.  It's tough to get a seat because the benches fill up fast, but a lot of people bring folding chairs.  Some bring and blankets and sit in the shade beside the circle.  Some bring their barbecues and sometimes there are vendors selling food and drinks.   It is against the law to have open containers of alcohol anywhere in New York – even in your own yard or on your own porch, so anyone drinking alcohol, disguised it, but it became evident as the day wore on that some people were getting high on something.

I had a small djembe when I moved to Brooklyn and a few times I went over to join in the fun.  The problem for me was that men would interrupt me to “teach” me how to play.  I may not play all that well, but I have rhythm and I like to play my own way.  Sometimes I skipped a beat or simply rubbed the top of the drum as a beat.  As long as I kept the rhythm, I figured what difference did it make.  But I’m pretty sure these men weren’t really wanting to teach me to play. They didn’t have their own drums and wanted an instrument to play.  I didn’t see them offering to teach anyone to dance, and there were some dancers that could have used some loosening up.

When I discovered the salsa dancing on the boardwalk in Coney Island, I stopped going to the drum circle.

Post by Alana Cash

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