Drum Circle Kicks Up New Dust On Old Ground

Odds are, unless you're an absolute drum circle diehard, you weren't standing in Trinity-Bellwoods park during Tuesday's vicious thunderstorm.

However, some of us were crazy enough to be there to mark the first outdoor drum circle of the year, and in a sense a new beginning for the whole thing. You may have heard of (or just plain heard) drum circle as it grew over the years as a word-of-mouth phenomenon, but this year things are a little different.

When the circles reached a certain size and level of popularity, the people living around Trinity started to take notice - whether they wanted to or not, and often into rather late hours for some people's Tuesdays.

The past few years have seen the drummers driven out of Trinity-Bellwoods Park entirely for a period, taking refuge in Queen's Park on nice nights and venues like the Big Bop, Dance Cave and Toronto Sprouts on less hospitable evenings.

The bowl at Trinity-Bellwoods has a certain something that none of those other places could match, though. I know I'll never forget the experience of coming to my first circle, crossing the dewy grass towards the pit and then reaching the edge and having the throbbing group of people come into view.

The organizers, both recognizing the value of this characteristic of the park and wanting to go back more than anyone else, decided to survey people in the area to find out how much support or opposition there was for the circle, and what specific complaints there were that might be able to be sorted out.

The vast majority of people responded in favour of the circle, praising the culture and life it brought to the community. The primary issues were how late it went, and how some of the people in attendance behaved. Based on this, the organizers went to the city and managed to secure a once-a-month permit for the event in its original home, provided that it wrapped up at 11 p.m. and no public drinking or other illegal/disruptive activity was taking place.

The winter chased the drummers inside, but now this year they've re-emerged having snagged an even better deal with the city. They now have a permit (based on the same rules) to hold a drum circle in the Trinity-Bellwoods bowl every other Tuesday, counting from May 15th.

As in: May 29th, June 12th & 26th, July 10 & 24th, August 7th & 21st, Sept. 4th & 18th

I had expected the first one to be a really big event, but when Mother Nature crashes a party, a lot less people tend to show up. If there was a crowd that could appreciate a good thunderstorm, though, it was definitely this one, and every crack of lightning gave another kick of energy to the circle.

I overheard people joking about the communal drenching being somewhat of a baptism for the newly reborn drum circle, and that really did fit. Everyone and everything got soaked to the bone, and people just responded by kicking off their shoes and dancing in the mud.

If that sounds like your kind of thing and you haven't been to a circle yet, definitely come check it out on one of the dates listed above. Bring a drum if you've got one, or another instrument if you like - the saxophone player this time was awesome.

Also, from June onwards, make sure to show up early to the park to peruse the Trinity-Bellwoods Farmer's Market, which will be open from 3 to 7 p.m.

(Photo courtesy of Air'leth Aodhfin, who has more drum circle photos than you can shake a didgeridoo at.)

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