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Organizer of Third Beach drum circles speaks out after massive crowd gathers

"We believe in social distancing and wearing masks and not being part of a group that is over 50 people."
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Photo: @schaaptop / Twitter

The coordinator of the Brahm's Tams Official Drum Circle is speaking out after a massive crowd of people gathered on Third Beach for a drum circle.

Vancouverite Brahm Olszynko runs a Facebook Group called "Brahm's Tams Official Tuesday Drum Circle" for the group that ordinarily gathers every sunny Tuesday on Stanley Park's Third Beach for a drum circle. However, he says he postponed the circle until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an email, Olszynko tells Vancouver Is Awesome that he pinned a post in the group back in March stating all drum circles were postponed until the authorities said large groups were permitted. Following his initial post, he continued to add more posts reminding people to stay safe and not go out there.

"It is very very disappointing to have had so many people send me the news articles, which literally name Brahm's Tams in it," writes Olszynko.

"I have received a few nasty e-mails, but not many. Yes, a lot of backlash publicly. Our reputation is damaged because of this. A lot of people writing publicly all over the Internet what horrible people we are. How irresponsible. I have personally been called a Prick at least 50 times (lol) BUT I truly understand why people would feel angry and upset. I do too."

Olszynko adds that the people who partied on Tuesday night likely increased the number of positive COVID-19 in the city, and that months of hard work will likely be lost with this type of behaviour.

"We believe in social distancing and wearing masks and not being part of a group that is over 50 people. The drum circle attracts way more than 50 people which is why it is still postponed. We are waiting for the authorities to say that 100+ people can gather, which will be our sign that we can get back out there."

Olszynko began the drum circle in 2005, when he first moved to Vancouver from Ottawa, to honour the Tam Tams in Montreal. And, of course, "for the love of rhythm, unity and community."

"Tam tam is the slang for Djembe Drum and my name Brahm happens to rhyme. I would bring 10 Djembes with me and put them in a circle for anyone to play, so these tam tams were in fact Brahm's tams, and that is how the name was created. The name stuck past the drum circle and now Brahm's Tams is actually my stage name when I drum." 

Over the next 11 years, Olszynko says he brought his Djembes to the beach every sunny Tuesday from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. and drummed his heart out. As he did, the number of drummers who joined steadily grew.

"Our first drum circle had three guys and four dancers. By 2018 we had over 60 drummers and over 1000 people attending on a beautiful August day," reminices Olszynko. 

Olszynko says that there is now a second Facebook group called Tuesday Drum Circle @ 3rd Beach, which is hosted by someone else.

"He is literally just a guy who joined our circle in year 9, like anyone else joins our circle. Except [name] said "I like this. I think I'll take it". He and his buddies were the ones who advertised for the drum circle the past two Tuesdays," alleges Olszynko.

"Those posts, which have now been deleted since this all came to a head, were literally inviting thousands of people to go to Third Beach. Covidiots I think is the term being thrown around for this type of behaviour."

The BC Centre for Disease Control reports that people in their twenties had the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in the province this week.

According to the British Columbia Weekly COVID-19 Surveillance Report for July 21 to 23, the age group with the largest number of new cases in the last week were 20-29 year olds, making up 83 of 222 new cases or a staggering 37%.

Cumulative incidence remains highest in the Lower Mainland. However, the largest number of new cases in the last week was reported by Interior Health. The report also states that the likely source of infection for most cases was contact with a local case or cluster.

V.I.A. has reached out to the organizer of the other drum circle for comment and will update the story when more information becomes available.

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