The rhythm of life at the beach

Every Sunday at dusk, drummers gather on Sarasota’s Siesta Beach to bid farewell to the sun. They put it to bed with a hypnotic rhythm that vibrates through the heads and feet of the hundreds of visitors and residents who rim the sand, who’ve been lucky enough to find a parking spot.

On Halloween they wear masks. Most of the time they wear their dreads and tattoos and thrum their congas and djembe, their snares and bodhrans.

Siesta Key sword dancer (2)In the circle, a woman balances a sword on her head, her skirts flying through the night air. Children spin in glowing hoops, an elderly man offers free hugs, a man dressed as Santa with a jester’s hat poses for pictures. People talk to each other.

A middle-age couple from Illinois sits with a beer in their hands and their toes in the sand. They’re staying on Siesta Key for a few weeks and this is their first time at the circle. In his short beard he looks woolly. She has blond hair with sculpted curls and perfect legs. The woman takes in the drummers and the jugglers and leans in to whisper, “I suppose anything goes.”

No, I say, not here, and if she’s disappointed, it doesn’t show. She nods and as the sun drops into the Gulf, she gives in to the rhythm, rising in her flowing shift and twirling for her husband, who snaps a picture with his smartphone.

She settles back in the low beach chair and smiles and says to no one, or to everyone, “We’ll send that to the girls.”

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