Though I was only able to make it down to the Sarasota/Bradenton area for 2.5 days prior to the start of the adventure, there were three items on my to-do list: eat at Two Senoritas, go to the drum circle, and hang out with my other half (I know, I know: that last one was a bit predictable). Though I would highly recommend any of the aforementioned, watching/participating in the Siesta Key drum circle is an opportunity that should not be missed. For those who are not familiar with the area, Siesta Key is a thin, 8-mile barrier island that hugs that Sarasota coastline. It has beautiful, powder-white sand beaches that one normally associates with Hawaiian shores; however, every Sunday evening, a gathering occurs on the north end of the beach that serves as one of those rare occasions when human beings actually enhance an area’s natural beauty instead of detracting from it. Around two hours before sunset, locals and vacationers alike show up with everything from expensive bongo drums and congas to 5-gallon buckets and exhaust pipes to herald and accompany the setting sun on its journey to the horizon. Others bring hula hoops or ribbons to accentuate and keep time with a beat that connects a growing circle of strangers and friends.
I can never decide which is my favorite aspect of the drum circle: the mysterious, primal power of the cadence that bring so many different people together; the smiling faces and chubby legs of toddlers stamping in the sand; the fluid grace of the young and old who dance to the beat; the people (like me) who can’t dance but find the courage to dive into the circle anyway; the shades of orange, pink, and purple that paint the sky. Ultimately, I suppose it is the combination of all of these things, and the lowering of barriers that results from an inherent zeal for life and music. In the space of an hour or two, differences are set aside and complete strangers recognize and embrace the more universal aspects of humanity. For me, the drum circle isn’t just music to my ears; it’s a balm to my soul. It’s a reminder that deep down, no matter how disconnected/far apart we might feel, we are all connected where it counts.