Sun City Drum Circle Gareth Jones

1000 person Drum Circle Sun City South Africa

Back in 2006 whilst living in Durban, I facilitated a Drum Circle at Sun City in South Africa that consisted of 800 -1000 people. I was asked by a marketing company whether it was something they could do for the start of their conference, and I just said yes unreal Ill do it !? without even really thinking about it. First dilema was the task of finding an absurd amount of African Djembe Drums that could be borrowed for me to pull something like this off. After many phone calls and sleepless nights I had got enough together. We trucked in 800 drums from Johannesberg and placed them under the seats of people attending the conference. We also had 200 other percussion instruments in the audience consisting of shakers, wood blacks, tambourines & bells. My partner in rhythm Mr Tiki Nxamalo held the foundation beat and we went about co-ordinating everyone into a gigantic Drum Circle that lifted the roof off the arena we were in.

Huge screens surrounding the stage didnt help matters initailly as the time delay from when I hit my drum in real time to the screen time threw a few hundred people out when trying to follow me. Realising what was happening I quickly moved everyone on to playing a basic pulse rhythm that united & solidified the audience. You didnt have to see it as you could feel it. The sound was amazing as were the facilitated call & responses & rumble waves. Tiki and I danced about the stage really enjoying the moment.

Before the event I was wondering what I had got myself into and whether it was actually possible to pull off. To my knowledge no one had tried something like this before (our largest before this was 100 people) and self doubt started creeping in. There were no rehearsals just walk straight out on stage and see if it would work. It was a totally in the moment situation that could have gone either way………. but magic happened, when the rhythm started it was as though we were transported to another realm, the drums & rhythm worked there primal spell upon everyone attending, and we came together as a giant percussion orchestra. This was definitly a highlight of my career and the logistics that went into making it happen made it very rewarding to be a part of. Something to treasure for a lifetime 🙂 !

R.I.P My good friend and drumming mentor Mr Tiki Nxamalo – legendary Zulu drummer/dancer/actor