Of Drum Groups and All-Night Jams
...tracing the beginnings of my personal journey (1991-96) with...
African Drumming, Drum Rhythm Groups, Jamming
and Trance Dancing
Creator wants us to drum. He wants us to corrupt the world
with drum, dance and chants. Afterall, we have already
corrupted the world with power and greed....which hasn't
gotten us anywhere - now's the time to corrupt the world
with drum, dance and chants."
as a one-time event, intended to create "community
immediately scheduled another one three months later; and
after that one, realized we really needed to do this every
three months, at each midpoint between solstice and equinox.
is a minimum of preparation and instruction beforehand:
learning the steps, from a West African dance; and the rhythms,
locally generated by drummers experienced with West African
patterns. The key for both dancers and drummers is consistency:
to go all night with the same steps, the same rhythms. In
this repetition and commitment comes the opportunity for
trance. Forgetting oneself in the power of the whole.
with solos, which are permitted a single dancer and drummer
at a time when the dancer feels moved by a pitch of excitement
to break free and go into the circle, the impulse and flight
is guided not by ego but by sheer union with the high energy
created: the gathering vortex released.
eight hours, breaking bread together at dawn, or sharing
fruit. There has been an amazing display of endurance by
all involved, with everyone going at it steadily, hardly
any breaks, a little snack or drink of water, a brief loosening
up and then back in. Afterwards there is sharing of how
it was, what happened, how it might be better next time.
we had thirty-five dancers, eleven drummers, and three digeridoo
players miked to match the volume of the drummers' sound--calling
back and forth from opposite ends of the hall, with the
dancers circling in between. The low frequencies and voiced
tones of the diges gave us all an added dimension of transport
to other realms.
the experience is not one of escape or exotic adventure.
There are no drugs involved. It's more a grounding, a bonding,
a building of community energy. Personal transcendence comes
in the form of union with group spirit and with the spirit
of rhythm itself. Stretching personal boundaries to the
limits of the sacred space. Leaving the banks to ride the
--Nowick Gray, 1996