Tuatha Dea on stage
And at times, more like a drum ovoid. (That’s an oval shape, right? Not one of the aliens in some SF series that I watched as a kid? Cause I could totally see that as an alien name. In fact, if it’s not one, I’m going to make it one.)
Basically, it was a band/drumming group named Tuatha Dea, and they believed heavily in audience participation.
I had heard about drum circles before. I had been told by grumpy old white man yoga teacher – I swear, that’s his official title – that drum circles were awesome and amazing and that everyone should take part in one sooner or later. I had seen Tuatha Dea in the dealer’s room at their table, and they had seemed kind of…well, I wouldn’t say unfriendly, but, yeah, kind of unfriendly. Or maybe stuck up. Or…I don’t know. All I know is, I wandered in front of their table, paused to look at their stuffs, and they ignored me completely and talked to each other and drummed. Oh-kay.
But a drum circle at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night.
That had to be something weird, right? Or something cool, or something something.
I showed up a little early to the “General Assembly” room. The room is huge. Stadium seating. I wasn’t about to tax my math skills trying to count the seats and rows. Suffice it to say, big big big.
They had a bunch of chairs set up on the carpeted area in front of the stage. They had a bunch of drums and tambourines and other rhythmic instruments.
I chose a seat away from the stage, off to the side, easy to escape from. Because everyone sets up escapes from musical events, am I right?
They began a few minutes late because they were out in the hallways, drumming, trying to get people in.
The seats right in front of the stage had filled in, some people already holding the drums. Random people who were apparently connected with the band kept going around offering more drums to anyone sitting there. I thanked my brain for telling me to sit away from those rows. I didn’t want a drum. I was just there to be a passive observer.
Then they started.
And it was amazing.
You couldn’t make mistakes drumming, they said. Because it was all part of the beat. They talked about how the first thing we ever hear is a beat – our mother’s heartbeat – and therefore, the beat is in all of us.
They played. They got the audience to play. They taught some basic drum moves, some rhythms. They repeated that there was no way to get it wrong. The guy who seemed to be the lead moved around a lot. Talked a lot. But also shut up a lot and just let the beat go on.
After one of the first breaks, when they encouraged everyone to rub their hands together to try to feel better after beating on a drum for half an hour, I moved.
I took one of the seats, in the second row, and snagged one of the drums from the front row.
I failed so hard. I have no natural rhythm. I have no beat. When other people were moving their hands down, mine were going up. When they went left, right, left, I went right, left, left. I kept stopping to try to get back on time, but I always stopped at the wrong moment or started up at the wrong moment.
But it didn’t matter.
No one came and took the drum away from me, telling me I was doing it wrong.
No one looked at me funny.
No one even seemed to notice that I was out of synch with them.
After a little bit, I decided I wasn’t out of synch. I was just playing something different. I found a pattern I could do, a pattern I liked, and I played it with their pattern, trying to hit the bass note at the same time, but when I didn’t, oh well.
Everyone on stage, and everyone around me, was either serious or smiling. Or both. We were all part of it, and we were all friends. People danced around the edges of the seating area. Even kids were getting into it, running and jumping.
I only lasted about half an hour on the drum before my wrists and elbows began to feel it. Since I didn’t want to rile up my carpal tunnel or my ulnar nerve issues, I went ahead and called it a night. But not before the cameraman who had been filming the stage and the audience had gotten me on camera a few times.
So somewhere out there exists the evidence that one night, I sat in a drum ovoid. And I played the drum.