Rhythmic Roots: A community drum circle in Tallahassee
Tucked behind a small smokehouse on Tallahassee's Southside, a long downhill driveway leads to a gazebo overlooking a lake, where every Friday night the sound of free-style drumming fills the air.
The outdoor entertainment venue is called The Hole. It sits behind Khufu's Smokehouse, located at 3014 S. Adams St. "We are kind of off the beaten path," said Robert Allen, who leads Rhythmic Roots, the drum circle that meets there every week. "We’re down by this lake, so not a lot of people can see us from the road.”
Allen says the drum circle is open to everyone. “It’s open for all who have the rhythm. You got to have a rhythm, and anybody who has a heartbeat has some rhythm," he said. "It's a community circle."
Drums and percussion instruments are provided, though people can bring their own. Allen says he’s hoping more people who live on the Southside will join the group.
The free-style drum circle known as Rhythmic Roots takes place at the Hole every Friday night between 7 - 10 p.m.
Another, more formal drumming circle takes place at the Unitarian Universalist Church, at 2810 N. Meridian Rd. on the second Sunday of the month between 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Several drum circles meet around Tallahassee. Every first Friday of the month, a drum circle meets at the Art Park located inside the Railroad Square Arts District. And others gather at local parks throughout the month.
Participants describe the communal experience as healing and a way to get more in touch with the earth and with each other.
Allen is formally trained in traditional West African drumming. For him, drumming is a spiritual practice and an integral part of his life.
“Drumming — it means everything to me," he said. "Drumming, to me, it means balance. It means freedom, for me. Personally, drumming is my connection to a past that was taken away from me, I feel. I’m mesmerized by these African rhythms that all have a purpose.”
You can hear Robert Allen talk more about the tradition of drumming in WFSU's upcoming podcast "Not So Black and White: A Community's Divided History."