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Drum Circle finds new home at Wellness Center

Rick Monroe

Special to the Village News

The Fallbrook Community Drum Circle has met in downtown Fallbrook since it was founded 22 years ago. However, they needed to relocate this month and the new location makes perfect sense.

Thomas Rondeau and Daniel Ide, two of the leaders of the gatherings, believe their monthly activity is all about community, wellness and health.

Their new location is at the Community Health & Wellness Center at 1636 E. Mission Road. The location is just a couple blocks east of downtown and the gatherings will continue to be on the third Sunday of month – that's this Sunday – from 2 to 4 p.m.

Previously, the gatherings were held at Vince Ross Village Square at Main and Alvarado Streets. However, the group was told recently by the Fallbrook Village Association that business owners near the location complained about the noise and the circle would have to relocate.

Rondeau, 76, who started the gatherings in 2000, said he liked the downtown setting but believes the new location will be just fine. Ide, who joined the group when he moved to Fallbrook in 2003, was also enthusiastic about the new setting.

"We're very appreciative of Theresa Geracitano and the board at the Fallbrook Regional Health District for having the vision and the mind-set to value Fallbrook Community Drum Circle and in providing for its continued success in our community," Ide said.

Rondeau noted the group is able to meet outside at the Wellness Center under an awning and they will no longer have to pay a user fee. Now, they only need to cover the cost of liability insurance.

Ide said there are usually 30-40 participants at the gatherings – sometimes up to 50 – and visitors are always welcome.

"I have a few drums I can let visitors use or they can bring their own instrument," he added. "We're very family friendly. I tell people to bring their grandkids or their grandparents."

In addition to multiple types of drums and other percussion instruments, flutes are often used.

Ide said the Fallbrook group has 5-6 strong leaders. "We get the group going like a freight train with a solid rhythm," he said "Sometimes we amaze ourselves with the spirit of the moment. We're very organic and playful."

Rondeau, who learned about drum circles as a young adult hippie in the 1960s in the mountains of Big Sur, had another thoughtful description of the Fallbrook group: "The drumbeat is the heartbeat of the community."

"Drumming is the simplest way to bring unity," he added. "We circle to bring us together. It's also great recreation and therapy. It's therapeutic."

Rondeau, owner of Rainbow Designs in Fallbrook, noted that people of all ages and backgrounds participate. "We keep it simple and have fun," he said. "We also leave all agendas outside the gate."

Ide agreed, explaining it is an ecumenical gathering – "all faiths are welcome as well as people with or without," he said. "What they have in common is a love of drumming their hearts out."

He said he believes in the healing capability of music, saying there has been a lot of research on the subject. In fact, he describes himself as a sound healing practitioner.

Ide plays multiple drums, some that he built himself, but his primary drums are congas, known as the cornerstone of countless Latin rhythms. The conga is of Afro-Cuban origin, and the conga player is referred to as a conguero or conguera.

Drum circles started as an extension of the native American pow-wow ceremony - which was held in a circle – but Ide noted there are plenty of other influences, including Cuban, Australian, Celtic and African.

Ide, about 20 years younger than Rondeau, said much of the growth of the drum culture was influenced by the slave trade. Later, Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji, who protested against racial segregation in the southern states of America, earned an enduring musical legacy with a Grammy nomination and compositions for Broadway and Hollywood. "The Beat of My Drum" was published in 2005, two years after his death.

Ide said that drum circles have been popular in San Diego at Balboa Park and Black's Beach, Solana Beach, Laguna Beach, Venice Beach and Santa Cruz. Another popular place in North County was at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas with Vista resident John Clauder, a drummer who did studio work for the Mamas and Papas.

The cancellation by the Fallbrook Village Association led to extensive responses on Facebook with comments like "Guess they didn't get the 'Friendly Village' memo" and "Dummy! This type of event attracts people who shop."

However, Ray Moosa, president of the FVA, said the discussion with the drum circle principals was a matter of the noise complaints of neighbors in the area.

"We offered Heyneman Park as an alternative, but they declined," Moosa said.

A final message from Rondeau and Ide:

"Play drums, learn to drum, meet people. Drumming builds community, immunity, and happiness. Come on out and enjoy yourself with us. We love to drum and dance to the rhythm of the music flowing from within! Come to drum, play a shaker, bang a gong, or whatever floats your soul."


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