Tag Archives: Drumming

Clearwater Beach Fire Spinning

Clearwater Beach is a haven for the adventurous, the artistic, and the free spirit.  The drum circle there attracts performance artists of all types; most notably, those dancing with poi and fire.  Poi are orbs attached to a rope or chain that is spun around to create beautiful, momentary kaleidoscopes of flame and color, ephemeral and temporary works of art.  some are composed of blinking lights and plastic, while traditional poi is a wick material that is lit aflame.  I’ve been practicing trying to capture images of the dancers with various methods.  My favorite way to photograph the event is to use a remote flash or two on a tripod to capture the image of the dancer, and then the slow shutter speed will create the trails.  The challenge, for me, is to capture the face and figure of the subject spinning the flame with as little blur as possible but still letting the light trails get some length.

The event is every Saturday evening at 9pm, but usually doesn’t get going until a little later.  As the night goes on, the performances become more and more elaborate and spectacular.  There are nearby conveniences, too, which makes this location perfect.  Right on the beach, there is a shop that sells food and drink and even beach supplies.  Locally, one can leave the beach after a great night watching the fire spinning and find excellent eateries of all price ranges within a couple miles.


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Adventures in Drumming

A couple months ago, we came across a djembe drumming class at Sacred Grounds lead by Heather DeRigo that inspired me to get into drumming.  The documented health benefits alone were great reasons to pick up this new adventure into the musical arts. 

Each time I sit down to play, I’m reminded of why I love drumming.  It helps me become aware of when I’m tense and gives me a means to release the frantic energy that arises from a stressful day at the office.  It’s also a great way to practice active meditation and become aware of my breathing.    

When it comes to drumming, I find myself practicing alone at home to increase my skill, but the fun part is attending drum circles.  In the Tampa Bay area alone, you can find a local circle almost every night of the week!  The Tampa Community Drum Circle on Meetup.com is just one great resource.  You can also email bayareadrumming@tampabay.rr.com to subscribe to a free monthly newletter that keeps you up to date on what’s going on in the area.

More Drumming Resources…

Expert Village Videos: A free djembe educational video series for beginners that introduces you to the djembe and how to play it, from instrument selection to polyrhythms and slap techniques.

X8 Drums: Great prices and high-quality drums!  Plus they feature both audio and video of the drums they sell!!

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Drumming Ritual

Back in the spring 1996, my aunt and I drove to Key West, Florida for some fun and adventure.

We walked through Ernest Hemingway’s house. We saw nine generations of his cats with six toe paws. We saw the room where he wrote and ultimately killed himself with a rifle. Not a pretty thought, but it’s one of those facts of life. We heard of the story of where one of his wives went to the expense of making a pool. Now getting a pool in most of the states is not a big deal, but in key west, you have to dig through coral rock, which is expensive. So when he found out about it, he threw down a penny and shouted, “Well, why don’t you take my last god damn penny!” Dramatical, I know, but most artists are. Look at Salvador Dali.

Another interesting place in Key West is located at the western end of the island, Mallory Square. It is the setting for one of Key West’s most famous festivities, Sunset Celebration. Each night hundreds of people gather to take part in this solar ritual with musicians, jugglers, and street performers serving as the background ambiance for nature’s breathtaking finale.

I saw the guy who would walk on broken glass. Then there was the parrot guy who wouldn’t let me take his picture unless I gave him money. Back then I was a college student so giving money to parrot men just wasn’t in my budget.

Now for the powerful moment, the drummers.

It started with three drummers. Beating away on buckets. Nothing fancy. Just buckets . . .

To me, drumming music has always been powerful. It’s sensual. The beat connect deep to your core of being in rhythm to your heart beat.

Non-stop through all the festivities, they drummed away. You could walk away to check out the sites and hear their drumming in the background. Slowly, the sun set in the west. The drumming continued . . .

And finally, the sun set and the drumming stopped in mid beat. The ritual was complete. The day ended and night life was about to begin.

After visiting Key West, that’s when the seed was planted in my mind to move to Florida.

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