Sunday, 22 January 2017

Another Year at the Venice Beach Drum Circle in Photos & Videos (2016-’17)


We all have an inner beat, such as that of the heart and that of the breath. But only some learn how to express it outwards through music. 

After last year’s A Year at the Venice Beach Drum Circle in Photos & Videos (2014-’15), here’s another one full of passionate Magick and more beautiful people, which I have compiled through the period between end of January 2016 and January 2017.

For some of us, the smaller and cosier circles on Saturdays — also on public holidays — have become the preferred days rather than Sundays when it usually gets chaotic and the music could easily get too loud, sometimes out of tune. Nevertheless, the energy resulting from drumming would still reach you even if you are playing alone or listening to someone who does. 

Before the photos and videos, the following is a recent snippet from what I wrote about what goes on there:

It should be raining tomorrow in Venice so a few from the Circle suggested we go today. The weather and the sunset were truly perfect. I began playing all by myself then Ronald Mc Kinley joined with his tambourine. He was actually the second person to let me try his Djembe when I first arrived at the Drum Circle three years ago, so I was happy that he was jamming on mine and decided to capture this historical moment.

We had a great time despite no one else showing up from the drummers. Eventually Ron left, but not before sharing with me the story of the Rastafarian who moved the Venice Drum Circle from the Boardwalk to the sand and who taught Capoeira; as well as how the cops, the rules, and the whole area were way different in the mid 80s when he first moved. I learned afterwards that music has been in the area since Cubans played there in the 1940s. 

A tad later, David Healey appeared out of thin air on his bike and with his camera as he usually does. He snapped a few shots of myself before chatting for a good 15 minutes — being shot twice during his years in Vietnam, how they drum in Haiti, and how he lived all over the world before ending up here on the beach. When he knew about my age, he called me a kid... and I sort of had to agree with him and added that the secret to a full life is keeping the spirit of the inner child alive.

The magical thing in all this is that Ron is in his mid 60s while David is in his mid 80s. Also Steve Engel with his smile and eccentric hats is in his 70s; Italiano Pino with his congas is another in his 60s; and Edward Tillmon is yet another genuine Venice Beach oldtimer. And Lonny is 88, yes you heard that right.

So basically age is simply a mere number; it’s all in the heart and mind. And these guys are an inspirational living proof.

Then finally before leaving, I went closer to the beach to take a photo of the glorious sunset. Right then and there was a police car passing in front of me by the horizon. Since the sun was right in my eyes I couldn’t see the details; but the two officers inside the vehicle just gave me the peace sign, which I happily returned. It might have been officer Roberts or some of his colleagues. But yeah, the LAPD are now pretty cool with me as I am with them.

Do you see why I love it here?  

The interesting comments which resulted from posting the above on Facebook inspired a few of us to dig deeper into the history of the Venice Beach Drum Circle. As such, right before I left this time we were able to interview some old-timers and the final outcome should be one heck of a cool documentary. So Stay Tuned!

Once done, also check the threequel (2017-’18).

Now to the hypnotic wizardry to delight your senses and alter your consciousness. Enjoy...

The first Circle of 2016 after coming back from Egypt: Dancing Sonie, Edahn (far right),
and Alex (green shirt on the left) and the rest of the boys doing their thang
— February 

The video of that first sweet reunion with the Brethren

On the boardwalk before we carry on on the sand

Being watched by my buddy’s wife, Aleyda, and their kid Adel

Playboy — April

Stevetization Happy Nation The one and only Steve Engel

Shoot The Shooter The hilarious photographer David Healey

L.A Women Sunday Afternoon

 David Healey with Kat, Monique, and Freddy goofing around in front of the cops


The view we get to enjoy while there

Natalie and her captivating smile

The Children of Light including a doggino

Only two people are truly happy in this world; the crazy and the child. Be crazy to
achieve what you desire, and be a child to enjoy what you have achieved.

Photo credit:
Oliver Rossberg
Gotta love Kadi and his musical toys

A few of us were jamming by the Boardwalk after the Drum Circle when I see
this dude passing by. For those who don
’t know him, he’s been touring
the U.S with his goat and he actually became a funny Internet meme.
So I stopped drumming and ran after him to get his
photo. He was a little worried from the cops but it all ended well.
His name is Eric
Rockclub Brown and his goat is named Deer.
Check his
goatfunme” — May

The Others
Taste The Rainbow

Do What Thou Wilt
With sweet Steffi from Belgium — June

Today’s Drum Circle may have been one of raddest, most phenomenal gatherings in quite
a while. Phantabulous energy. Amazing weather. Drummers in-sync. Shiny happy women
dancing. You simply cannot ask for more. Today I
’m a legitimate One Lucky Soul.
Uncle Omar in his element visited by the sweet Kiddos. I think I would actually
make a kool dad... if I wanted to.
Photo Credit: Hisham Abouseif

We all smile in the same language, but it’s wicked when it’s got an English
The lovely Sky Edwards.
Atusa in pink and Natalie further facing the sun in green swimsuit 

Keeping the Beat with Paul (left), Tim (middle), Ronald (back standing),
and Scott (first right)
— July
You know the circle is kicking ass when cops come out of their cars while dancing and
filming us in full fascination. Zoe in the middle in a black & white dress.

We finally have a photo together: With the cool officer Roberts whom I wrote
an Article about. Photo credit: Steve Engel
— August
Brethren United
“Dave, do I always look that crazy while drumming or is it the camera effect?
You look even crazier.”

Another super shot by David Healey 

The Children of Light keeping the fire on by celebrating existence one more time — September
Edahn (far left), Ronald (middle conga), Edward on his bass guitar in the middle,
Pino (sitting down in a hat and dark shirt), then Alex (far right in white pants)
More Colours 
With Jody Joy who’s a pro drummer and who came to visit us with her kool hubby
and son, also Oliver on the right with glasses
Brighten Up
Conjunto The beautiful and vibrant Susana from Chile

Illumination Happy Nation
Celebrating Existence once again and again. Today we had a special visit from an exotic
beauty from Sudan and her equally stunning friend. Zainab Kuwa, we
’re sure pleased
to meet you.

Your vibe attracts your tribe
Janise, Zeinab, and Zoe having a girlie moment at one of One Lucky Soul full moon events
Full Lunacy

Coalescence” is not from the VBDC but a natural repercussion of it. Solo jamming on the Mediterranean sea where I go visit my family and friends Northern Coast
of Egypt in August of 2015. Below is the video. 


Solo sunset drumming on the Northern Coast of Egypt where people were first shy
and confused before eventually joining me with their kids after a few sunsets

Inter-generational drumming on the Mediterranean — another flashback from August 2015

Back to Venice Beach... Every weekend at the Drum Circle, Steve Engel comes up to me
while I’m in deep drumming and says something so random and intellectual, that I must love
him for it. Today’s connection point was: It’s really nice to have someone who knows how to
spell correctly and familiar with all grammar structure and language rules around Facebook.
Yes, thank you Steve. I think with the rapid advent of modern technologies, language as we
know it, or communication in general, may one day Beegone
you, Purple Man.

And The Beat Goes On
— September

One of the many YouTube videos I came across — October

In-tune with the rhythm of Mother Nature — November 

A glimpse of the sanctuary
Having a Hunch with the Funky Bunch... and the sun, which chose to wear a Mickey Mouse
ear hat for the sunset partey
— December
Let the children lead the way and they will do a better job than most of us. You can add
some of Monique
s entrancing nail polish if youre into a tad bit of more colours.
 Sometimes you can only wonder if you found The Others or did they find you,
or perhaps it happened simultaneously. Whatever it is, I’m sure glad that it did
so eclectically happen.
With Joe, Steve, and Pino.
And again remember,
age is simply a mere number; it’s all in the
heart and mind.

With Ronald McKinley jamming on my drum on that Friday I mentioned
earlier in the snippet
— January 2017

 The Boys @ Play” with Dan (left), P.J, Paul (first one standing), Eddy with
colourful conga, Joseph in purple, Pino (on conga sitting down),
Alex last on the right, and Steve simply celebrating all that.

As raw as it could get: Shooting the documentary with Alex Mannone and myself behind
the camera two days before I once again leave L.A for a visit to the Land of the Pharaohs
Also with sweet Andy who has been around Venice since 1965 and has
lots of stories to share

And... its a wrap

To many more years of drumming, dancing, and celebrating Life and Existence. I hope you enjoyed viewing this photo-video article as much as we enjoyed making it happen. Maybe someday youll join us. And the world will be as One.


A Year at the Venice Beach Drum Circle in Photos & Videos (2014-’15)

One More Year at the Venice Beach Drum Circle in Photos & Videos (2017-’18)

How Drumming Changed The Way My Brain Processes Music

The Intertwining of Music and Sexuality ― A Djembefola’s Tale

Drum Circle Etiquette — The Do’s and Don’ts
Attempting to Bridge the Gap Between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’: Officer Roberts 

Some People I Shot 

More People I Shot

Countering Gentrification — Eating Cheap and Healthy in Venice Beach [With a List of Places and Their Menus]

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  1. It amazes me always when filming the circle theres always just a selective few opinions about where and what circle means does for them). But leave out the actuall banging drummers that are holding make ot seem one sided .or your preception of circle seems one sided...whete are the real og interviews..i see none of them.and i look and study alot of footage..and i see same area of circle always being filmed same people on it..neber the ones that truly bring it every sunday the same.
    Mashing it out..yet there never shown..and this has been all 4 decades of being in it..never are a certain few that needs their props but never given..think maybe they would like to see themselves in action..i know i would have love to see me just one video..being i don't never see me in none..always wonder why was this?

    1. I don't know who you are, or any of the names you mentioned in your previous comments. I've been around for 4 years and the photos and videos are from that time. The last 3 years it's mainly Saturdays as this is when I enjoy playing. Sundays are mainly too loud and chaotic for me. The "history" is covered in the documentary some of us worked on. These photo-video-articles remain from my own perspective, since I am the one behind the lens. During this time many of those pictured in the photos and videos are people I got to meet.If I missed one or three then that is that. I don't work for the local newspaper or get paid for my efforts, so I'm not required to follow every single person who happens to be at the circle. If you do know me and want to be in the photos or videos, then come talk to me. Simple. Again, while I know most people there, I still don't know who you are since your profile name is "Unknown" and has no picture. Cheers.

  2. Yeah i agree.
    Where's Ras.K...Nancy.Dwayne.fred.john.Randy.patrick..a few others unmentioned or shown?

    1. I know you're replying to yourself. But as mentioned, I don't know who these people are.