What if I told you there was a remedy to reduce anxiety and stress and boost your immune system? What if I told you it was only 100 riyals and was only an hour’s drive from Doha? What if I told you this remedy was…a drumming circle?
With only a few months of ‘nice’ weather left before the searing heat of summer begins, we thought we’d get out of the city and do something a little different. By something different, we meant spending our Friday night joining a drum circle on a remote beach in Dukhan.
It was a road trip of discovery and adventure, but more importantly for my ridiculously impractical Honda Civic, a path of tarmac roads up until the last few hundred metres.
In the time-honoured tradition of our ancestors, we prepared for our long and arduous journey by buying some folding chairs and sandwiches from Carrefour. We hit the road to a soundtrack of 90s and 00s tracks because neither of us have bothered to listen to any new music since we arrived here.
We clear the city borders and the buildings become sparser and sparser as we head deeper into Qatar’s wild west on the Dukhan highway. There are certainly more scenic road trips in the world but this one has a strange beauty to it. The brutal,arid landscape is a reminder of harsher times and the resourcefulness of the people here. We see pockets of industry and electric pylons interspersed with the occasional lunatic in a landcruiser making the most of the empty road ahead of us.
After about an hour’s driving, we see the bizarre alien rock formations near Zekreet and soon head into Dukhan. We see our group gathering on the beach and make our way down. We’re greeted warmly and encouraged to make ourselves comfortable and to pick up up a djembe drum from the assortment laid out for us. I do that thing everyone does when wine tasting and pretend I know what I’m doing when actually all the drums look the same to me. I give them a little tap and a feel and nod my head (to no one in particular). So after all that deliberating, I pick up the closest two drums to me and we pick out a spot. Soon after, we’re invited to have our faces daubed in warrior paint, which I forget I have on my face when getting a snack from the petrol station en route home.
We seat ourselves down and then Patrick, drummer extraordinaire and the lead organizer of this event comes over to introduce himself and tell us the schedule for the evening. Couples, children and even a drumming dog gather round in a circle while Patrick and his band start us off while the sun starts to set. We start with some simple rhythms that we all follow along to and some cleverly disguised warm up routines that puts a smile on everyone’s faces. Before long, we’re all jamming away in perfect harmony (at least in my head).
Patrick shares a short history of the Djembe drums and some traditional rhythms for us to learn. Before we know it, the sky has darkened and the amber glow of the tiki torches and fire are swirling around us. The pace of the drumming reaches a frenetic crescendo before a well earned break for our superb drummer hosts. Its at this point, we appreciate the beauty of our surroundings. Its one of the few times we have ever seen stars in Qatar and without the ever present West Bay skyline lurking in the distance. A barbecue fire sizzles away as the crew recover their energy. Everyone is in good spirits after the break with our final session. We freestyle with the group and slowly make our way closer to the fire. The infectious joy in the band’s faces is a sight to behold. Sadly we need to make our way back home and leave our drumming circle for the evening. We look back one last time as we drive home with smiles on our faces, with the beat of the djembe still ringing in our ears.
For more information about Drumming Qatar’s future events and workshops contact Patrick at their facebook page