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The Treasure Island Drum Circle drums on the beach before sunset.
Julio Perez

What do bucket drummers, syncopated snare players, belly-dancers and music-loving tourists have in common? Opportunity to play in the Treasure Island Drum Circle. The percussive group meets every Sunday at 3 p.m. on the beach behind the Bilmar and plays until sunset.

Formed in 2001 by Johanna Zenobia and other dancers and drummers, the TI Drum Circle set out to form an open space for creative expression.

“It was just a few of us in the sand back then. We were inspired by the Siesta Key Circle and wanted to bring something like that to this area,” Zenobia said.

Today, the circle draws a steady crowd with its individualized rules, etiquette, and styles.

“Treasure Island, specifically, is like a party. Pretty much anything goes. They dance and they play on the beach and they’re more relaxed. They have the least amount of structure, musically speaking,” Drummer Julio Perez told The Gabber.

Although each drum circle have individual rules, they don’t tend to have leadership positions.

“There are no leaders for the Treasure Island Drum Circle or most of the drum circles held in public spaces. That’s the beauty and attraction of these types of events. Most people who initially come are strangers to one another and are attracted to the spontaneity, joy, and inclusion of making music and dancing together,” Desiree Garcia, a member of TI Drum Circle, said. 

Perez told The Gabber the circle welcomes people of all skill levels, experience, and backgrounds. When he joined three years ago, he had never touched an instrument. Now, he is fluent in 10 instruments including guitar, ukulele, bongos, congas, and glockenspiel.

“I’m interested in playing music and music theory. I play different instruments which bring different flavors. For example, I’m Hispanic, right, so I play congas and bongos. I can bring Latin rhythms into a drum circle,” Perez said, adding that one of his favorite parts about participating is learning drumming techniques from different cultures.

The group provides drums for participants; however, it is common to see members playing buckets, pots, or pans instead of traditional hand drums.

“Everybody adds a little bit of flair depending on what they want to bring out that day. All we wanna do is have fun, relax from our weekly nine-to-five routine, and have fun with our friends,” Perez said. 

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