The number of different tribes there are in our city never ceases to amaze me. Over the years I have been able to experience only a fraction of them. When I was with the Muttart Art Gallery in the ‘80s it was the bingo and casino tribes that we depended on so much for program funding. While I never became a big bingo/casino player, I respected their culture.
Ten years ago I discovered the yoga community and this time I did participate, and it did change my life (but that’s another story). Suffice to say, The Bodhi Tree is one of my happy places.
Earlier this year I had a chance to check out the paint ball fanatics with my teenage nephew; that was a real eye opener. I also attended the International Blues Challenge in Memphis and developed a better appreciation for the blues culture of the Mississippi Delta.
This past week, a friend introduced me to Judy Atkinson’s Circles of Rhythm that happens every Friday night at the Inglewood Community Centre at 7pm. My 87-year-old buddy and I arrived early and already the tribe members were beating their drums.
The sound was immediately intoxicating!
Drum Circle 101
There is no experience necessary and drums are provided – not just one drum type but several. There are hundreds of them, which is a good thing as there can be anywhere from 100 to 200+ participants on any given night.
Cost is $15 for adults, $10 for seniors (60+) and $5 for kids, and with your first admission you get a “get in for free card” for your next visit. No reservations needed: just drop by if the mood strikes you. They even have free drinks and cookies; how could I not love this place?
You are welcomed as you walk in by two drummers who drum over your head and body like some baptismal ceremony. As Judy likes to say, “It is like going to church and a night out on the town at the same time.”
The evening starts with some basic drumming, and even though I have a hard time keeping a beat, it seems easy to just join in and somehow it all works. Then a young guy, a facilitator jumps into the middle and starts prancing around and encouraging you to try different rhythms – think orchestra leader meets shaman meets Katy Perry. He is both funny and friendly.
After 45 minutes of continual drumming, many of the participants have reached a tranquil hypnotic state that is infectious. In addition to the drumming, there are didgeridoo players, as well as some tribal chanting and screaming - it is all very primordial.
It is time for cookies!
The second half involves people taking turns lying on the floor (15 at a time) under a huge drum, while others drum on top of them. A smaller group lies on the wooden stage, while someone drums over their body like they are driving out the evil spirits, but I am sure that isn’t the case. It is like something I imagine took place in Africa, the “Outback” of Australia or perhaps even the Blackfoot Nation in the Calgary area 100 years ago.
Our evening closed with many of the participants grabbing a frame drum and marching around the edge of the circular Inglewood Community Centre, like something from a wedding party. Finally everyone stands around in a circle, holds hands and quickly says one thing they are grateful for.
Top 10 things heard at the Circles of Rhythm:
#10 The people watching was incredible.
#9 Love the cookies, but where’s the milk?
#8 Don’t these people ever stop smiling?
#7 The pulse drums are like holding your heart in your hand.
#6 It was the most fun I could have with my boots on!
#5 Who is that medicine man?
#4 Is it the ‘60s again or am I just hallucinating?
#3 I have blisters on my fingers.
#2 Can Inglewood get any cooler?
#1 And, Yes, we do all march to the beat of a different drummer.
If you are looking for a fun way to chill on a Friday night, this would be perfect for anyone, young or old, families, singles or couples. It could be my new happy place!