A Zen master's life is one continuous mistake.
- Dogen

There are no mistakes. - Miles Davis

20 November 2013

Making Do Magic

Setting out around the world without a drum is a leap into the unknown. Which countries, cities, towns or villages have drum circles, African dance classes, or jam groups open to newcomers? Are there spare drums to play? Is there a space to practice, teach and play without disturbing the peace?

All my old network links were out of date. Google and YouTube provided some examples of performances here and there, but no reliable contacts. I scoured a couple of leads pointing to a village in Tuscany, but lacking a car, we bypassed it on the train. Halfway around the world in Thailand, there were plans afoot for a fun-sounding winter drum camp, but with no guarantee of spare drums there, and my own plans gravitating toward Central and South America, I wound up in a village in Ecuador (Vilcabamba) nestled in the Andes. 

Surprise upon surprise, there are endless opportunities to drum here. I connected immediately, by chance, with an old friend from BC - we go back to the days of an epic trance dance in Argenta - and rented the bottom floor of his house. On the upper floor is a music room with 5 ashikos. They hold kirtans every week which I can play for (along with another drummer I played with once in Maui, who also showed up out of the blue). I could use my living space and one of the drums to record video drum lessons, to upload for an online course. On the hill nearby there are full moon drum jams by the fire. Last week I could play as part of a cacao ceremony. At the end of the month is a festival where I can perform and teach. And every weekday evening, for an hour or two the sounds of djembe and sangban echo over the village square. Will, an expat (extranero) of about my age, rents a second-floor hall, supplies drums, teaches a local Ecuatorian friend, and holds space for whoever else - like me - shows up and wants to play. 

Today there are two Argentinians there with their own drums teaching Candombe. After they leave it's just Will and me, trading sangban/djembe parts and solos. Into the unlit hall comes a parent (of indeterminate gender) and two pixies. Their dance energy swirls around us as we riff, tykes' shoes lit like fireflies by tiny colored lights. For half an hour we jam, the five in a spontaneous whirl of trance, sound and motion. This is the fruit of the tree of magic, making do.