June 17, 2014

Montreal’s Tam Tams: Dip into the Counter Culture

Montreal has this thing they call the Tam Tams. It’s a free drumming circle, anyone can join, either as a drummer, or a dancer, or one of hundreds of fans just there to enjoy the music and the sun, and the people on display.

It’s a weekly event in the summer, every Sunday starting around noon, going till sundown. Just look for the George-Étienne Cartier Monument in Mount Royal Park (the big-angel-on-a-stick statue). You can’t miss the sound of the drums.


Seems like any instrument is cool, just join the cacophony. People bring all kinds of drums and percussion instruments. Everything from 4 foot tall carved wooden monsters to slick little hand drums made of fiberglass and mylar. Some guys have high tech body harnesses, some just sling their drum off a hemp rope. I also saw brass trombones, pan pipes, and a few things I didn’t recognize. There’s vendors nearby, you can buy finger cymbals or a tambourine if you want to join in. There are even belly dancing veils and jingling belts available, if that’s more your mode of expression.

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The main attraction for a sketcher like myself is the mosh pit of dancers. Everything takes place in a little corner, off to the side of the statue, backed on two sides by a 4 foot wall. This makes a little amphitheater that fills up with a mass of gyrating, bumping, and grinding bodies. The drumming never stops – one person gets tired, another steps in. It’s hypnotizing. You could dance - or draw - for hours without coming up for air.

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I hear this thing is a meetup for dope fiends, but to be honest, I didn't see any of that while I was there. I suppose they have secret codes to find each other in the crowd. I think that’s a thing if you want it to be, but most people are there for the sun, the music and the weird opportunity to merge into the tribe of drummers and dancers. If you ever thought a place had ‘good vibes’ – this would be it.

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Mike Dodds said...

To me this is the essence of urban sketching mixing with Reportage sketching and giving us exactly what the USk is all about. Seeing the World One Drawing at at time.

In a world where we get the diluted media news "dripped" to us seeing a different part of living and life through another persons eyes and drawings is illuminating and educational. I've learned a lot lately about what doesn't get reported or mentioned because it's not a Cause Celebre, so a big thank you for this simpler and more HUMAN piece of work. It's made me wish I lived in Montreal for a Sunday Afternoon.

marctaro said...

Hey - thanks Mike, that's a tremendous vote of confidence for what we're doing!

Veronica Lawlor said...

Very lively report! I agree with Mike D!

Róisín Curé said...

I don't know HOW you draw the dancers with such movement and accuracy, at the same time. Really beautiful sketches, very inspiring.