I’d heard about the drumming circle at Klitsgras that happens every second weekend out on Garstfontein Road from many people, many times.
But I only got around to checking it out a few weekends ago.
In fact, there was a time, as a teenager, when I wanted to be a famous drummer in a punk rock band. But to do that, you actually need to physically play the drums. Which I did once on a school tour to the Grahamstown festival, and again at a friend’s house after university, on an electric drum kit.
I also played a bit of djembe drums with a SHAWCO outreach group while I was at UCT, but only learnt a few basic rhythms.
So I’ve always been keen to check out the drumming circle at Klitsgras, since I obviously like the instrument. Or maybe it’s just the outdoor Shembe church drumming that happens on Sundays in the spruit opposite my block of flats that’s got into my brain.
Nevertheless, it only took a random conversation with a sound engineer called Henry at the Electric Picnic Heritage Day party a few weeks ago to finally convince me to make the mission.
And so I did, and I’ll definitely be back. But before you do the same, here are some tips that will make it a better experience for you (and everyone who reads this).
Tips for Visiting a Drumming Circle at Klitsgras
1. Go with an open mind
I was immediately impressed by the semi-remote feel of the place, even though the person I went with was initially a bit freaked out by the dreamcatcher hanging in the entrance, and didn’t really know what I was leading him into.
Unfortunately, it was a bit quiet that night, presumably because of the rugby. So it felt like an empty nightclub, that you really want to stay and enjoy yourself in, but can’t help feeling awkward standing around in.
But once we were inside, I could see what all the fuss was about, especially if there are a lot of people there. Firstly, there’s a sunken amphitheater/fire pit on your right, under a thatched bona, with a variety of drums hanging from the roof, where we bumped into Henry.
Inside the pit, there is a person with a drum strapped to their back, and a group of people making random noises to the instruction of this person in the middle, who carries that drum weight without any visible discomfort.
(To give you some perspective, while looking in on the circle, we saw two people try to strap other drums to themselves but immediately take them off).
Up and to your right if you climb out from the sunken pit, there’s a covered open space with sand in it (presumably for more fire) and a rustic building that was probably a house at one point, where there’s a stage for live bands inside, as well as a kitchen and bar at the opposite end.
2. Go with someone who actually wants to play the drums
I was really looking forward to the drumming, but going with someone who is hesitant about any kind of new age related experience is obviously not the best choice.
Especially when they get creeped out by the fact that you have to drive a little bit off the road to get there, and drive on a dark road lined by tall pine trees (which I actually thought was quite a pleasant experience).
Luckily, there was pizza, beer and couches, so it wasn’t too difficult to be entertained, without playing drums, at the drumming circle.
(In his defence, it did feel a bit awkward joining a drum circle that had already started, but I shouldn’t have given so much of a shit).
I should have just done it anyway, even though sitting outside listening to music, standing around a fire, not drinking quartz (apparently they got onto smaller beers a while ago), and just taking in the free-spirited energy of the place was pretty relaxing.
(A vibe that is also evident from the open plan, mosaic tile decorated unisex bathroom at the other end of the property).
3. Go with a crew, and make it busy
I could have stayed for hours just sitting and listening to drums, the guy playing covers on the guitar, and all of the other music. But, as bad dates go, the person I went with was tired and wanted to leave early. And I had yoga teacher training the next day.
(A definite red flag, and one that should have suggested that he was the kind of person who might also come over to my house for dinner the next week and get upset when I don’t want to sleep with them afterwards).
However, while I might not make the best dating choices, ever, it doesn’t mean that my slightly less than mind-blowing experience is anything to go by in what seems to be a very fun and welcoming place (that hosts regular outdoor yoga events and vegan markets, but also sells pizza with meat on it).
My overall impression was that it was just a more quiet night than usual (so I can just imagine how much fun it is when things do get crazy there).
So my point is this: go to a drumming circle at Klitsgras, with a lot of other people, because the more people that go, the more fun it will be, for everyone.
If you read my post about cleaning up the Hennops River a few months ago, there is a fundraiser to support the river at Klitsgras on the 9th of November from 17:00. Please join if you’re keen to show your support. I plan to be there, without a date, and definitely play some drums.
Have you ever been to Klitsgras? Did you enjoy it? Tell me a story that’s way more exciting and better than mine in the comments below- I’d love to hear it. General thoughts about drumming and dating also welcome.