And I mean that literally.
I have not seen so many drums in one room the size of a normal cafe, let alone where they were all drummed in unison. Let me start from the beginning.
Mrs. Fan, wify's Arts teacher, had informed us sometime ago about this interactive facilitated drum circle to be conducted by her erstwhile drum teacher at a cafe in our neighborhood today. The event, free to all interested, was scheduled to start at 6.00pm.
In the morning, we checked out the venue, Kili Cafe, the cyber way. We learned that the cafe serves a range of home-roasted and brewed coffee, just wify's cup of tea (there is indeed a tea drink on the menu). In the afternoon, we checked out the Cafe again, this time physically, to make sure that we know the easiest way to get there.
When we arrived sometime before 6.00pm, Jana, the instructor, was already there. After ordering our respective beverages, mine being tea, we all helped out in clearing the central area, and arranged the chairs in a circle.
People continued to walk in, filling up the seats, drums between their legs (like the one to the right, but some without the furry rim as seen here). I respectfully declined the offer from Jana to take up a seat, telling her that wify was the musically inclined in the family. As to my request to take pictures of the group activity, she motioned me to go ahead, adding, “people do that all the time.”
Thus endorsed, I just clicked away, and would let the pictures speak for themselves here of the contagious fun that everybody had, connected through the synchronous drumbeat, well, almost, led by the able Jana who knew just how to get all to let their hair down, and fired up too, for the evening.
This was the scene outside the cafe when we arrived, the trailer-ful (we would soon find out later) of drums in tow.
Wify, sitting directly below a steaming cup of coffee, and Mrs. Fan waiting for their order. The displays to the left comprise memorabilia from Africa, a testimony to the African roots of the proprietor.
A picture typical of an African scene and reminiscent of the safari there adorns the wall further into the cafe. The tree canopy kind of reminded me of a scene from the Lion King, a Walt Disney cartoon blockbuster sometime back.
Wify trying her hands on the drum while Mrs. Fan looked on expectantly, all awaiting the cue from Jana.
Let the drums roll. And my heart pounded in rhythm with the drumbeat.
The group drumming from another angle. Both Jana and her assistant (I think that's who he is) had their drums on slings, strapped over their shoulders, and inserted, at an inclination, between their legs, like so.
Notice that in this picture only wify's hands seemed to be in striking motion while the rest had them either on their knees or just resting on the drum. This was one of the variations of Jana's repertoire to get the group involved individually, a session I call "in the spotlight". First she would get a fellow participant's consent to go solo. Then she would do a quick countdown, signally the beginning of the solo drumming, and everybody else to stop simultaneously. Here it was wify's turn, despite this being her first contact with a drum, let alone making sound from it. I would say she managed to render some rhythm to her improvisation, confirming that my decision to defer to her for the evening activity was a wise one indeed.
This was another variation where Jana invited a young conductor to come forth to direct the loudness (increasing when their hands were raised and vice versa) and the spatial distribution of the drumbeat following the cue of their hands, resulting in alternating crescendo from different sections of the group much like a human wave seen in a stadium.
And the inside of the trailer, stockful of drums. As for the drumming experience, the display on the side says it all.
And at the end of it all, we took home a CD, on purchase, to remember the occasion by. Thanks Jana, Mrs. Fan, and you fellow drummers, young and old alike, for a drum-ful evening.