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Byron Shire
March 2, 2021

Byron still dancing to its own beat despite the police

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Byron police shut down the sunset drum circle on Main Beach on Sunday on account of a noise complaint. Photo Kim Maree

Harsha Prabhu

The Byron vibe just keeps on claiming more victims, as more people gathered on Tuesday at the sunset drumming at Main Beach, ostensibly to celebrate the end of another beautiful day in paradise, but in reality to submit to that sonic assault known as the sunset drum circle.

Apart from the usual suspects armed with their tomtoms of torture, assorted beatniks, babes, and babies with their families in tow were also in evidence, apparently unfazed by the hubbub over the drum circle last weekend (reported in Monday’s Byron Shire Echo), or even sticky-beaking around at today’s sunset shenanigans in the hunt for more.

Shenanigans aside, feelings are still running high over this issue on Facebook. One person commented over the police action: ‘Must be a VERY slow week… they look like a bunch of wowsers… ‘. Another said: ‘Until they physically imprison me without jembe, they’ll keep hearing the beats that I like to play and even if they lock me up, I still can make beats with my hands and feet. One has to be so unhappy to shut down the drumming circle tradition. If I don’t live in Byron and I don’t know the culture, perhaps I won’t care. But this place is home to my children and me. And I like to see my children happily play jembe on sunset drumming from time to time.’

Another added: ‘This is Byron Bay, not Afghanistan under the Taliban, who also waged a war on drummers and dancers’.

Others are asking prospective Byron Shire councillors to ‘step up for the Byron we love’.

Three have responded.

Byron Shire Greens councillor and mayoral candidate Simon Richardson’s response: ‘For me, when the drumming stops in Byron, the town that is defined by gatherings of community is also over. I love bringing my little girl to the drumming, to watch her dance, to see the spirit of Byron is still alive… I will do whatever I can to keep the organic, free spirited celebration of music, dancing and gathering alive in Byron.’

Paul Spooner, the lead candidate for Group B Community Independents, said: ‘If I am elected to council at the elections this Saturday I will be supporting the community drumming and dancing at the sunset in Byron Bay. It is a special part of what Byron Bay is and should remain. I am happy to work with people to make this happen.’

Sol Ibrahim, Vision in Action for Byron Shire Council leader, said: ‘It seems to me that a lot of locals are forgetting that they too were young once, and that our young and young at heart have a right to enjoy life in their own way as well. Tolerance used to be one of our greatest characteristics, and I want to bring it back to our conversation.’

One mischief-maker was heard to say: ‘It’s interesting that this issue has come up at council election time. Makes you think that this election is going to be critical for Byron’s survival as a funky, sustainable community. As with any potboiler, find out who’s in bed with whom: follow the money.’

Wiser heads in the rabble have also noted that any cultural plan for Byron, indeed any LEP, would need to include the sunset drum circle in its ambit to reflect its iconic nature.

And others have contacted Legal Aid and are talking of involving all in a dialogue, via the local Community Justice Centre.

Said one such miscreant: ‘The Byron vibe has always been an inclusive vibe and we are always willing to hear everybody’s point of view. We invite all – and this includes the police and the naysayers – to visit the drum circle, and [we] are ready to listen to what folks have to say. But then there’s always the danger they could end up dancing!’

As dusk fell and bodies contorted in the clutches of hula hoops, the evening disintegrated into – what else – a group hug.

For more on this tale (told by a village idiot), and to add your two bits, please keep tabs on this link.

But watch out! You could get infected by the Byron vibe!


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  1. Sadly, those who complain about the Main Beach drumming circle at sunset are persons most in need of evoking the primal human being within. Dare one suggest – I dare: rather than shut down the drumming circle, the Police should escort the complainants into the drumming circle and give a Police direction that the complainants ‘dance like there is nobody watching’; after which we can give the complainants a big Byronian hug and loan them drums to play. The party is never noisy, if you are at the party.

    Morgan – Candidate for Mayor

  2. I would like the think the council has the power to keep the authentic culture of the Byron shire alive….I am wondering wether the council has as much influence as the United Nations does now days, which is none…..not a happy thought. I would love to be proven wrong.


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