The official Venice Beach Drum Circle website, a feat in Tiki fonts and pixelated thumbnails, paints the event -- held every Saturday and Sunday, from 2 p.m. until everyone stumbles off into the night -- as a "harmonious," "meditative" circle of life where only love prevails.
Such was most definitely not the case last Sunday night. Venice 311 has a haphazard account of the lovefest turned "fuck the po-lice" rager, which begins with four rowdy circle-goers and ends with an all-beach lockdown and LAPD helicopter circling overhead:
As the drum circle was being shut down in normal fashion by LAPD on Sunday night, two men were detained for having open containers and possible narcotics. As they were being cited, another fight broke out among two other men, and it took the six LAPD officers on the scene to keep all four men detained. The second two were being combative and resisting arrest.
The very drunk friends of these two groups started screaming and taunting, and would not back away from the scene despite numerous calls by LAPD to step back. The officers called for backup, another fight started, and before you knew it the original four that were detained needed several officers on each of them to keep them in custody as the crowd of drunk onlookers fought with one another and LAPD. Repeated calls for additional officers went out, and air unit was dispatched and the boardwalk from Wavecrest north to Thornton was on lockdown with a full perimeter of officers.
At the end of the hippies-gone-wild fiasco, according to Venice 311, nine people were taken into custody.
Compare that with the VBDC's self-described vibe:
"People from all walks of life leave their differences behind, and you can feel the electricity of camaraderie and celebration of human interaction through art, music, laughter, and nature. The free spirit is alive and well here and it is not manufactured or produced by some mass media or corporate agenda, it is pure, it is simple, and it can't be taken away because it is in the heart of the people.
And what is this drum circle you ask? ... It is a bunch of people with drums (sometimes, water jugs, cans with sand, or any other contraption one can think of), sitting around in a circle and playing "together" to create a harmonious sound of such raw primal energy. It is almost meditative in some instances, very catching, and one can't help but dance, or move to the rhythm in some way. It is a release of artistic expression."
Guess the bongos just weren't cutting it this week. And anyway, we all know real artistic release can only be achieved via mass drugged-up tussles with the fuzz. Or by running naked down the 405 North. If that's not enlightenment, we don't know what is.
Here's the Venice 311 video. It's shot from outside the heart of the action, but you can get an idea of the massive police presence:
All right, riff-raff. Back to dressing up as bears and pissing on sign posts already.