BootsnAll Travel Network

Clifton Beach Drums

Every Monday night – especially during the warm summer months – Clifton’s second beach is taken over by African drum enthusiasts, fire-dancers, capoiera players, belly dancers and those of the chill-and-drink ilk.

People gather on the beach for a picnic and drinks, although the show really starts going around 8 p.m., or when the sun goes down, and ends around 10 p.m.

Having missed the spectacle last week, I vowed to do the 25-minute walk this Monday and showed up around 8:30 p.m. There were a dozen or so cops at the top of the stairs, checking people’s bags for alcohol and issuing stern warnings about no booze, fires or drums on the beach. Apparently the session the prior Monday had irked some neighbors, who were upset that the event was getting too big…and noisy.

The paper had an article about the cancellation today – although the focus was on the dancing Maxim model who got the boot.

Anyway, when I got to the beach I spotted Sara, an amazingly stunning Sufi muslim that I’ve hung out with a few times, right away. Sara moved to S.A. from Spain 2 years ago on orders from her family’s cleric. She was with two drums and a motley crew of other people, half of whom I’ve met. We spent the next hour trying to figure out what was going on, gripping about the cops (“This would neeever happen en Spain. We would all keep playing and they could not stup all of us,” she groused. “We’d all stop in the States.” I admitted) and moving the blanket away from the rapidly incoming tide.

Around 9:30, a few more people showed up, including Ghalied, who I celebrated Eid with a few weeks ago. There were some other people heading to another spot to play, did we want to come?

After cramming 13 people in two small cars (like, VW-small) for a short three minute ride, we ended up at a park-like area away from the shore. As we piled out, we could hear that people had already started drumming.

The next hour was one of the coolest things I’ve experienced in Africa. With a crew of about 40 people, 9 drums, 2 other instruments, a fire-dancer and Table Mountain as a backdrop, people relaxed, chatted and took in the vibe. The only lights came from those on the street and the wax candles people had stuck in their finished wine bottles.

The skill of the drummers varied, but included a few that were ‘some of the best in Cape Town’. The solo fire-dancer was clad in tight spandex capris and a sports bra, with large chandelier earrings and her blond hair pulled back from her face. She used the drum beats as her guide and moved until the flames and fuel were gone.

I imagine that the full-on spectacle with a few thousand people (predominately white or colored, it should be noted) and a hundred drums must be an incredible experience. I don’t know if it will be back on next week, but I’m going to do my best to get down there to find out.


-1 responses to “Clifton Beach Drums”

  1. funchilde says:

    great story! sounds like it was an amazing night!

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