Skip to content

Underground Beats Add Soul To The Subway


    The downtown F train isn’t exactly the place I’d expect to find my zen. Usually it’s the place of inbetweens–where we find each other on our way.  So it was a bit of a surprise when my subway ride came alive the other day.

    Upon pulling out of the 14th street station, I noticed three guys setting themselves up with djembes.  Unsure if this would be worth unplugging for,  I waited with one earbud intact. It took only seconds for me to see these weren’t some guys just pounding on bongos…they were the real deal! My view was slightly obscured (damn center pole!), but it didn’t matter.   I didn’t need to see the show.

    I felt it.

    There’s a very special place in my heart for the djembe- it created the soundscape on our walk down the wedding aisle. To me — there’s no other instrument that speaks so directly to the soul. And on this journey from 14th street to West 4th I felt the pulse of the drum work its magic. My body, cleared of all the extraneous stuff (thoughts, plans, stress, and  miscellaneous clutter), felt lighter.

    I got connected.

    Now, please remember this was NYC’s mass transit!  As I’m sure you know or can imagine…there isn’t much connection happening here. Unless it’s the F train transfer at Broadway / Lafayette. Or the nudging from a bulging briefcase into the back. Or the slight shove as someone races to make their exit. There’s rarely eye contact. And hardly an excuse me.

    These djembe guys cut through subway mores. They left us smiling. One lady applauded.

    If this can happen on the F train, imagine the power it can have with a movement practice. I invite you to put on some djembe beats and find your flow.

    Try this on for size…

    What music or instruments can always call you into your dance?

    25 thoughts on “Underground Beats Add Soul To The Subway”

    1. For me, it’s always Arabic style drum beats. When I hear those, I can’t wait to belly dance <3

    2. I love watching belly dancers! I’ve got to check out some Arabic style drum beats — perhaps this will be the inspiration I need to lure me into belly dancing — thank you!

    3. Hehe. I get hooked for hours (you are warned) on youtube watching belly dancers all over the world. Would really love to learn tribal fusion belly dance, but they are not available in my country. I’m so grateful for internet. It would be fun going to belly dancing lessons. Most of the people in my class have been around for quite some time, we love it 😀

    4. That’s awesome — you found your dance! This makes me so happy to read about people tapping into their movement practice. I’m going to look into tribal fusion belly dance. I wonder if they offer classes here…

    5. Hehe. I’m grateful that my life is all about flow. yoga, dance, gardening, cooking 😀 Don’t get me much cash, but it’s one hell of a life worth living. happy searching and hope you find your beats too 😀

    6. Oh another thing that makes belly dancing so fabulous– the costumes! I just watched a woman do tribal fusion belly dancing– beautiful!

    7. Yes!! my teacher is really good at finding amazing costumes! and there are so many varieties of costumes. everytime we get to perform, it’s like magic, you see everyone putting on makeup, wearing really beautiful costumes. it’s so different from what you see in a day to day living. you can watch rachel brice and illan riviere. they dance amazingly well.

    8. Rachel Brice-that’s who I just watched. Thank you for bringing me into the belly dancing work this am–so fun!

    9. My fave part of this post is the unexpected place you had this connection……. in the midst of every day life where there is always something special if you keep your eyes and heart open.

    10. Helen, You are so right about that — just stay open. How fantastic would that have been if you were there with me… dance party on the F train!! xoxo

    11. Ooh I love African drumming. Thanks for sharing your experience, and I love the track.

    12. Hi Tamina! Thanks for sharing:) Subway life can be a bit rough here at times as well. Who am I kidding? All the time. Subway musicians always make my day. I’ve loved the sound of the tambourine since I was a child and I came across a guy banging and shaking his tambourine at Bloor-Yonge subway station recently. It brought me back. Happy weekend! – Donna

    13. It’s so cool how music stores itself in memories…how a song (or tambourine) can bring us back to a special time. Thanks for sharing,Donna!

    14. I love it too! It’s not something I listen to all the time, but when I do — it always works it’s magic. Thanks, sara!

    15. SirenaTales

      **smiles** Love the image of a djembe concert on the F train, TT! Would have been very hard to stay in my seat :). And how amazing that you had this infectious, grounding, joyful sound accompany you down the aisle. Makes me want to head down the aisle again–same lovely husband–to djembe. Gotta get up now and dance party to this track. Thank you. xoxo

    16. ST, it was really cool. I don’t always open myself up to the subway performances, but this one was a real gem. Oh and as for the djembe down the wedding aisle…I was obsessed with making that happen. It was special. Hope you had a hoppin’ dance party to the track! xoxo

    17. That’s right — you were a NYer! So you know about those hidden treasures that lie just beneath the surface. It’s what I love about living here– the unexpected moments of joy.

      I didn’t know you married a drummer…I did that too.
      And it’s very cool your son has picked it up so young. It’s tough to practice drums in our apartment without our neighbors hating us. It’s my husbands dream to have a large enough space where he can set up his drums and play his heart out….perhaps one day.

      Thanks for you kind comment + double like 🙂

    18. Drumming’s his avocation, but a serious one. My 6.5-yr-old is waiting to get back on, with me on the piano this time. I complained about our rowdy neighbors — until Hubby pointed out we drum LOL. You would love our music room! =)

      I’m sending you a link you really must see if you haven’t. Separately, in case it goes to Spam.

    19. This, to me, is such an example of how we settle for ick when life could be inspired. Something as simple as beats in the subway. Piano music while we shop (hello Von Maur). We’ve got a long way to go to make things as beautiful as they could be here.

    20. I think it usually depends on our moods. On days when I’m feeling ick…I’m going to notice a lot more ick (which there is plenty to see here in this city). It takes effort (& awareness) to shift from this perspective and open up to the possibility. Something I’m working on every day. I appreciate your candid comment, kay — Thank you!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *