Out of the Blue: Drum circle needed to get its beat back

September 26, 2013|By Billy Fried
  • The Aliso Beach Full Moon Drum Circle has been getting a bit too popular for columnist Billy Frieds taste.
The Aliso Beach Full Moon Drum Circle has been getting… (Billy Fried )

I try not to use this column to advance a personal agenda, but since this is about a large monthly gathering that involves pagan rituals on a beach, I'll make an exception.

Against my better judgment. I've always feared that full disclosure would ruin it, either because of the yahoo principle that anything good eventually brings a bunch of drunks who destroy it, or because the glare of the media would bring the inevitable jealous saboteurs who would resent not being at the party and bring the full force of the nanny state of Laguna upon us. Either way spelled doom.

I'm talking, of course, about the sublime monthly tradition of drumming and dancing like savages under the moon to release every endorphin in the body, the celebration known as the Aliso Beach Full Moon Drum Circle.

It's been going on for a dozen years now, with nary a hiccup. It's just about the only local festival that is absolutely free and devoid of commercialism. It is an organism that has grown and morphed and spread through word of mouth and is now a famous brand in Orange County more broadly referred to as the Laguna Beach Full Moon Drum Circle. That should make us proud.


Nothing reinforces the magic of this place like drumming around a bonfire with the ocean beyond and the stars above. You lock into a cosmic groove, everyone on the same beat, dancers undulating in the middle, fire dancers reflecting off the water as the tide rolls under them.

It is a collective euphoric ritual that can best be described as, well, a religious experience. The kind where everyone is connected and nature is divine. It's been my church for 12 years, but sadly, like the Crystal Cathedral, it may have run its course.

Here's the thing: Drumming heals. It gets into your nervous system and sends happy signals to your face. The Aliso Beach drum circle has always been a healing space. What started as a small, tight collection of hand drummers and percussionists spawned dancers who were lit magnificently by the fire.

This brought more people, which begat more drummers. Then the gallery arrived with blankets and picnics, people who just wanted to settle in for a night of mystical entertainment.

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