Drum Circle and Crowds Continued Wednesday Night Until Broken Up by Police at 10 PM

by on August 13, 2020 · 18 comments

in Health, Ocean Beach

It was happening again Wednesday night, the 12th of August. The drum circle and crowds once again gathered and partied until roughly 10 pm when San Diego Police broke it all up. No one was cited by police for violating the County health ordinance.

Until 10 however, San Diego Police officers were not involved in dealing with the crowds. When this reporter visited the scene last night at 9 pm, there were an estimated 300 people in the grassy area, with over one hundred directly involved in the drum circle and dancing. I counted 3 police vehicles in the immediate vicinity and only 3 officers; 3 more police vehicles were spotted within a few blocks of the area.

The drum circle and crowd, Wed., Aug. 12, 2020. Photos by Frank Gormlie

And once again, crowds congregated – most without masks or social distancing. It did not appear as raucous as the previous Wednesday night – but the mostly 16 to 36 crowd was too involved in partying or watching the partiers to give much thought to COVID-19. It was the place to be, the place to hang out, with swinging music and the rhythmic beat, soft grass to sit on with the sounds of crashing waves in the background.


City and County crews handed out info and masks. 7SanDiego screen grab.

This reporter approached one police vehicle in the lifeguard parking lot where three officers were dealing with a couple. I asked the officer in the driver’s seat if they were going to deal with the large crowd. He told me he didn’t know anything about it. I asked for a police commander and he vaguely told me he didn’t know who it was and perhaps they were out there observing the crowd. And besides he was dealing with the situation at hand – a young couple being questioned for something totally unrelated. I never ran across any commander.

According to 7SanDiego, however, about a dozen officers approached the crowd at 10 pm and ordered the scene to desist.

SDPD finally at 10pm ordered the crowd to disperse. 7SanDiego

Earlier in the day, city and county workers wandered through the gathering crowd and handed out information on the rules and handed out masks. Reportedly, they handed out 300 masks. Dr. Joe Day was also there in the afternoon seen talking to vendors.

Dr. Joel Day handing mask and info to unmasked vendor. 7SanDiego

The rules: “Passive use only, such as walking, jogging, or hiking. No congregating … Maintain social distancing … wear face masks …”

Dr. Day told KUSI it was “back to the drawing board” to figure out what to do with the crowds and drum circle in consultation with OB community leaders. That was already supposed to have occurred on Monday and Tuesday. Either Day didn’t know how serious it was or was not prepared for the scene Wednesday. Anyhow, it seems a week of enforcing compliance with health codes has been lost.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam August 13, 2020 at 10:12 am

Why would anybody believe that “educating” people about the dangers of a pandemic, that started 6 months ago, give or take, is suddenly going to make these anti science mouth breathers stand up and do the right thing? The only way to stop this is to start handing out tickets and locking people up.


Geoff Page August 13, 2020 at 10:21 am

The reason they moved in at 10:00 is because that is the time in the noise control ordinance when sound has to be below a certain level. Chapter 5, Article 9.5, Division 4. The drums probably violate the ordinance after ten and this is a law on the books the PD can act on. Even if the drums don’t qualify, I doubt anyone had a decibel reader on hand to argue about it. Unfortunately, the COVID requirements are not law.


Chris August 13, 2020 at 10:51 am

Until tickets are handed out or even arrests are made this situation will continue. If nothing is going to be done based on COVID requirements not being actual law, then we might have to resign ourselves to this not going away.


Frank Gormlie August 13, 2020 at 11:21 am

Cameron Reid of the OB Town Council told the OB Rag this morning: “Corey and I walked the park around 10:30pm and it was surprisingly very clean. The reduced Drum circle headcount and reduced on grass vending kept the P&R trash cans at a reasonable level. Didn’t see much of anything left on the grass. The blue beach drums were overflowing per usual. Decent amount of styrofoam was also visible in the blue drum cans.”


Peter from South O August 13, 2020 at 12:04 pm

This is a case of the authorities wimping out. There are existing enforcement mechanisms to put a stop to such illegal (yes, any gathering of over 10 people is illegal right now) gatherings.
The following is from the California Peace Officers Association’s legal department:

“The Health & Safety Code authorizes health officers to take necessary steps to prevent the spread of infectious disease. (See Health & Safety Code § 120175). The Government Code makes provision for both county and municipal law enforcement to execute the orders of the local health officer for the purpose of preventing the spread of communicable disease. This authority for a Sheriff is found in Government Code section 26602. Similarly, Government Code section 41601 vests in municipal Police Chiefs the equivalent general law powers conferred upon Sheriffs.”

They have the authority, but not the will to serve and protect.


Rich "Rocky " Tyree August 13, 2020 at 8:53 pm

I was at the drum circle, most of them were high as a kite, stoners,homeless, tweekers, and the average OB idiot were 99% of the crowd, I came as a guest to watch the freak show, first and last time, I’ll stay in La jolla.


kh August 27, 2020 at 3:47 am

Amazing you think you can spot an OBecian in a single visit to the Wednesday night crowd that is actually mostly visitors converging from elsewhere in the city, including the participants.. In fact, the OBecians that live and work here can usually spot someone like you quite easily.


sealintheSelkirks August 13, 2020 at 10:29 pm

All our vaunted technology, all that education, and a hundred years later people in this country have not changed for the better. Or at least a dang large percentage are still dumb as rocks. What, 40% for Trump?

And the Pandemic rages on…



thequeenisalizard August 14, 2020 at 8:59 am

Have a couple of people standing, circulating the crowd in a orange vest, and tell them anyone wanting to attend must get a vaccination. Bet that would reduce crowd size.


sealintheSelkirks August 14, 2020 at 4:02 pm

Ricky from La Jolla:

It’s what our species has ALWAYS done, gathered in groups to party. It’s a primate bonding ritual and especially needed when their world is falling apart. And bluntly, it’s looking pretty damn grim at this point don’t ya think?

Don’t moralize because… What, you never been to a bar and ‘had a couple drinks’ with your friends or family then drove home? Depending on your body weight, most likely you would have failed the breathalyzer because you would have been “high as a kite.” Or you never drank so much caffeine that you got the ‘jitters’ from the amount of drug in your system, shaky hands and irritable behavior leading to ‘Road Rage’ when you are stopped in traffic jams?

And dude, I just love the humorous comment ‘I’ll stay in La Jolla’ you wrote because I went to La Jolla High School in 1970 and those kids REALLY partied as did their parents! You know why? Because they had the income and could afford the best drugs. They didn’t buy low-cost drugs like Colt 45 beer, they drank Loenbrau and Heineken! And no Ripple for them but $200 bottles of Chateu Blanc. They didn’t drink Sanka coffee but had Columbian beans flown in to grind into their morning blast of speed unlike the lower classes who had to make do with instant. And of course the illegal drugs were the best, too, just as I’m sure they are now. And they all had really expensive lawyers and their friends were all the judges living in that place so…they got away with enormous amounts of illegal activity. Probably still do I’d imagine.

As for the drum circle, folks it’s also a primate gathering ritual. As a life-long musician, Blues & rock lead Harmonica and 6 drum congas & hand percussionist, what a drum circle can do is take you away from the misery you are experiencing. Like job loss, poverty, sickness, mental and emotional stress, divorce and death of loved ones. I’ve participated in many many over the decades and that’s what I have seen them do. Of course they aren’t always in that mode for everyone but there’s a very very long history of humans drumming.

It’s just not a good time to do such things in a freaking deadly Pandemic!



Geoff Page August 14, 2020 at 4:45 pm

seal, I think you just bit on another piece of bait that troublemakers throw in their comments because they know it will rile OB folks. They just do it for fun. Or worse.

Why would anyone who knows this town write “I’ll stay in La jolla?” First, it’s spelled wrong, but it matches the poor language of the comment. People who make these types of comments are not known for their ability with language, oral or written. A La Jollan would have fixed that.

Second, anyone should know a comment like that would certainly get a response and the exchanges sometimes would get ugly. Whether that is for their own amusement or an effort to make The OB Rag look bad is anyone’s guess.

Maybe there’s a clue in your comment below, buddy.

“Or you never drank so much caffeine that you got the ‘jitters’ from the amount of drug in your system, shaky hands and irritable behavior leading to ‘Road Rage’…?”


sealintheSelkirks August 14, 2020 at 5:32 pm

These kind of comments don’t rile me, Geoff. I see them for what they are and answer accordingly and…they rarely answer ya notice. Ask Frank what the email he wrote me a couple-three months or so ago asked me to do…


MY BOOK IS IN PRODUCTION! 3rd in line for printing and I’ll be driving down to pick up a box next week. ISBN in and bar code on the back and…it’s real after 4 years. How cool is that? So weeeeeners like this guy can’t ruffle my feathers! HA!



Progressive Guru August 17, 2020 at 12:39 am

I wonder if the regular participants there are even aware of the news coverage this matter has been receiving. For one thing, folks that practice hippie, tribal, nomadic, “alternative”, etc. lifestyles are sometimes not so into following rules. Since the drum circle is attended by a variety of such people, it seems like common sense to post signs around the area alerting folks to the problem, alerting them to practice social distancing and mask wearing. Laminated signs could be posted in the area on trees using thumbtacks and on the lawn using small stakes. Otherwise, if people are uninformed, they will continue to behave in uninformed manners. Makes perfect sense, really.


Progressive Guru August 25, 2020 at 7:54 am

Actually, there is a sign/signs there, but it’s on a stand-up board printed with a small typeface and has lots of information. It’s just the type of sign that people don’t bother to read; just a big list of rules. They need to place simple signs in large print that simply state to wear masks and practice social distancing. That would likely be a bit more effective.


kh August 27, 2020 at 3:40 am

People know the rules, they just don’t care. Education and bigger signs and handing out masks misses that point. And it shows how out of touch the city and county is. Regarding masks and social distancing, nforcement is the only thing that hasn’t been attempted. Personally I think, to each his own. If you are gravely concerned about catching something, don’t come to the beach in the busiest time of the year. People have other concerns aside from that and the late night festivities – trash and vendors taking up half the space and zero accountability.


Debbie August 27, 2020 at 5:41 am

I bet everyone at the drumming event owns a cell phone therefore; I think they should buy their own masks. Agreed accountability!


nostalgic August 20, 2020 at 2:13 pm

If you want a free KN95 mask from the government, the drum circle is the only place I know of where they are beoing handed out. Any other locations? Thanks.


Progressive Guru August 26, 2020 at 4:47 am

Free is the right price for me.


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