Full Moon Drumming &Dance Circle Resources

Natural Earth, Sun, Moon, Tide Rhythms, Weather & Fire Safety for Community Celebrations in Nature

Practical info and resources to help plan and pull off awesome music/ dance gatherings in wild natural settings. This is based on our experience in Santa Barbara, CA. The nature pulse (weather/ tide etc.) resources are Santa Barbara-centric but useful/ adaptable to some extent anywhere on planet earth.


Dancers at saturday beach circle

Saturday Circle across from Chase Palm Park ...starts a few hours before sunset (photo by David Muscroft)


Gathering in nature, making music and dance together connects us to nature and each other, is super fun and energizing, rejuvenating, exhilarating...

Here is Ngoki's founding vision for Ngoma, the SB drum dance listserv:

"Ngoma is the original, raw, primal essence of our gathering with

drumming and dancing to heal, transform, and celebrate, before it
was ever crystallized into any particular cultural tradition or
distinctive style. Ngoma is the original human impulse and tendency
to drum and dance for any and every reason. Ngoma is the generic,
non-specific, underlying, internal motivation and inspiration itself
that manifests outwardly as the natural human behavior of gathering
together with drumming and dancing.

Ngoma refers to an all-inclusive community health care system

based primarily on ecstatic drumming, dancing, and singing. Ngoma is
the moment to moment action of returning to a way of life that
includes drumming and dancing free of any limitation and constraint.
Ngoma is also the gatherings themselves where this free, ecstatic
drumming and dancing is taking place. And perhaps most importantly,
ngoma is a global, worldwide primal drum and dance movement taking
place on the entire planet right now, where more and more people are
beginning to gather with intentional, ecstatic drumming, dancing,
and singing.

Ngoma doesn't belong to anyone. Ngoma is a way of looking at and

talking about something that all human beings already have in common-
-this primal impulse to drum and dance. Ngoma is already a
fundamental part of our essential human nature and intelligence.
Ngoma is actually encoded in the cellular DNA of our species, though
it is often blocked and prevented from fully expressing. The mission
and highest purpose of ngoma in the world at this time is to offer a
definite way of awakening and activating the "ngoma information"
in our DNA, to increase our quality of life individually and

Ngoma is the "way and the power" of community healing,

transformational drumming, dancing, and singing."






It's powerful to celebrate in sync with natural rhythms...sunrise, sunset, full moons, winter and summer solstices, spring and fall equinoxes, first rain, eclipses, etc. etc...


Full Moon Celebration Dates

Note that we celebrate on the night of the natural full moon peak. This is often the day before the full moon date shown on most calendars. If the moment of peak fullness is when it's dark, that's easy; it's that night. If it's not, then it gets more complicated. There's three main factors we look at, in order of importance—

When it's a close call, we look at weather and (though we try not to) weekend/ weekday human calendar stuff. We've noticed that being a night early still catches the building energy, but being a night late it's been kind of waning energy.

Why does peak light matter? The rest of the animal and plant kingdoms are powerfully affected by peak light...the one night a month when the moon is already illuminating when the sun sets, and still illuminating when it rises.

(That's the most important factor, followed by when the peak fullness is attained, and how much of the night is waxing vs waning, followed by when peak fullness is attained.---)


Moon phases, moonrise, moonset and % illumination, Solar and lunar eclipsessunrise, sunset and altitude   from timeanddate.com


Full moon dates for Santa Barbara from Farmer's Almanac

Sun & Moon Rise, Set Times From U.S. Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department--includes civil twilight info

SpaceWeather.com, SkyAndTelescope other cool things in the sky



The following information is provided for Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, California (longitude W119.7, latitude N34.4):

22 December 2007 Pacific Standard Time

Begin civil twilight 6:34 a.m.
Sunrise 7:02 a.m.
Sun transit 11:57 a.m.
Sunset 4:53 p.m.
End civil twilight 5:21 p.m.

Moonrise 2:32 p.m. on preceding day
Moonset 5:45 a.m.
Moonrise 3:28 p.m.
Moon transit 11:11 p.m.
Moonset 6:55 a.m. on following day

Phase of the Moon on 22 December: waxing gibbous with 98% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated.

Full Moon on 23 December 2007 at 5:16 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.

If we weren't so insulated from natural rhythms this would be an obvious, recurring part of our own life rhythm...in the 14 nights between new and full moon, the moon is higher and higher in the sky when the sun sets, so the all the way dark night (starlight only) is shorter and shorter. If you are a creature whose life is run by natural rather than electric light, this is huge—instead of having to be back in your burrow by dark, you get to stay active. The closer it gets to full moon, the lighter and longer the moonlight extension pushes back the full darkness of night.

Finally, on the night of peak light, the full moon rises at sunset and stays in the sky all the way till sunrise‚—a natural invitation to all the earth's creatures to pull an all-nighter. The very next day, the moon rises an hour after sunset, so there's about half hour of real dark that separates day from moonlight—totally different vibe, back to the burrow, party's over.

If my understanding is correct, if the moon's peak fullness is near midnight, (like it was our Santa Barbara longitude the 1st of December, 2009, when it peaks at 11:30 pm) then the moon is rising on the horizon as the sun is setting into it—moon "dawn" overlaps with sun dusk, and vice versa at sunrise.

Thus, to continue the December 2009 example, at Santa Barbara latitude it will be continuously light from dawn on November 30th at 6 am (which will happen with the moon about half an hour below the western horizon) to dusk december 2nd at 5:15 pm (at which time the moon will be about half an hour below the eastern horizon)...about 35 hours of light, compared to a paltry 11 hours of light on new moon day just two weeks later.

The full moon peak happens at the same instant everywhere. However, the night of peak light might vary a day depending on where you are on the planet's surface, and how your local sunset/ moonrise interweave with this peak moon time. (I think I got this right.)





The exact place you meet will have a big effect on the character of the gathering...

In general you want a spot where--

You also want a favorable microclimate, to be above high tide line, etc. etc.

Directions to typical SB gathering spots (password required)



To develop your weather intuition,

  1. Pay attention to your own sensory input; look at the sky; feel the humidity, the wind
  2. Guess what the weather is going to be like
  3. Check the forecasts to see what others think
  4. Compare to what really happens
  5. Repeat....


Radar key

Forecasts which take microclimates into pretty good account:

Weather at spine of SB mountains and hourly weather graph...direct output of all parameters from the computer model, by hour; super cool.

Weather at SB beach, hourly weather graph, weather by minute

SB area weather discussion (all from NOAA)

SB area temperature, wind, Waves, Rain+wind (all from Windy.com)


To figure out what's likely to go down rain wise right before an event, radar seems to work best. It shows what's actually coming down, up to about 5 minutes previously...

SB area almost live radar base reflectivity (rain near ground), radar composite reflectivity (peak rain in whole air column), radar FAQ, visible satillite image from NOAA, rainfall history from SBCO Public Works.

SoCal combined satilite and radar

SW US combined satilite and radar from Accuweather

Animated 300 mile Radar Ten day weather & radar maps from weather.com

Wind from windalert.com - I like the dropdown with different models


Pay especial attention to the weather for Bonfire Safety; this page includes links for current fire danger by location.

Surf/ Tide report SB (high surf makes the dry part of the beach smaller) Tidesreal time ocean water temp and levels

Light track from carbon neutral fire spinning toys made from Euculyptus bark. The person was

Light track from carbon neutral fire spinning toys made from Euculyptus bark. The person spinning was not lit and was moving too fast and continuously to register on the camera (fire safety note: There's no wind, and about seventy feet of damp sand to the nearest bushes. Best place to play with this stuff is in the water--makes awesome reflections).


The essential ingredients are:

1) Good music ...at least one good drummer, at least one bass drum (dun dun, surdo...)

Drums & Classes—Dancing Drum

Drums—Full Circle Drums

2) Dancing...this is really a question of just going for it, though classes don't hurt...

Integrated Movement

3) Bonfire Safety

FIre at Saturday Drum Circle by Chase Palm Park in Santa Barbara California

Community Relations

As populations increase and open space decreases, it's more and more essential to maintain excellent relations with neighbors, police, firefighters, forest service, parks departments, and any other stakeholders. Just talking with people works wonders. We've had virtually 100% positive experience with more engagement, as compared to just trying to slide by. Sometimes this has involved modifiying our behavior. For example, we never make a fire when conditions are not safe. Hard to believe we ever acted differently, but we did, and other groups still do make fires in red flag fire conditions. This is just common sense, as well as being good citizens. Responding to noise complaints by moving, getting quieter (or just picking a good spot in the first place) has helped make our gatherings sustainable over decades.

We've had overall very positive interactions with police by--


Moonset with snowcapped peaks ringing winter drum circle


Wave Capoeira


Celebrations worth checking out

Live Oak Music Festival

Santa Barbara Summer Solstice

Lightning in a Bottle

Directory of Drum Circles

Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Parade

Random links

Santa ynez river flow below Gibralter Dam, Below Laurels Canyon, near Santa Ynez, At Solvang, Temp, etc.

Weather halfway up mountains, hourly graph



Full moon drumming

June 2009 full moon drumming with epic fire hooping by Ahni Radvanyi and Kit Hoopster

April 25th 2013 full moon drumming

August 9th 2014 full moon...video mostly of fire dancing to music


SB drum dancers going wild at soho to music by the Dancing Drum Community Ensemble

Saturday Drum Circle 6/13/2009

Fond memories for drum circle stalwart Tom Dunlop, 1953-2012
(click image to download full size version)

Forest journey


FOLI There is no movement without rhythm

 Email us feedback

Music circle inside a ferrocement rainwater cistern at a party in Santa Barbara--acoustics in this environment are just stunning. That night people played in here continuously from about 9pm to sunrise.