By Samantha Oltman
Los Angeles, the second-largest city in the United States, is a city known for its diversity. Yet as a collection of more than 10 regional districts, which are all divided into more than 100 diverse neighborhoods, the city of Los Angeles is also characterized as a segregated sprawl where communities are sharply divided by race and income and where inhabitants drive from home to car to work and back, only rarely brushing up against their fellow Angelenos in the flesh.
This concept of division and isolation in Los Angeles has been explored in novels, films, and academic studies: John Fante’s Ask the Dust, a story of Depression-era Los Angeles, says, “They were doomed to die in the sun, a few dollars in the bank, enough to subscribe to the Los Angeles Times, enough to keep alive the illusion that this was paradise, that their little papier-mâché homes were castles. The uprooted ones, the empty sad folks, the old and young folks, the folks from back home. These were my countrymen, these were the new Californians.”
Crash, a film that attempts to explore Los Angeles’s racial complexities, says, “In any real city, you walk… You brush past people; people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass.”
A recent USC study shows that although Los Angeles as a metropolitan area has become more and more diverse, it shows a trend of increasingly isolated racial neighborhoods.
When you put it that way, you have to wonder about the point of so much diversity in a city if its different enclaves and inhabitants rarely interact with one another. Los Angeles is diverse, but do Angelenos even take advantage of their city’s unique melting pot?
Not always, and this needs to change. But one instance where Angelenos melt together is at the Venice Beach Drum Circle, a weekly event that inspires Angelenos of almost every neighborhood, class background, and ethnicity to gather on the beach near the Venice boardwalk. The concept is simple: bring your drum—regardless of the variety: congo, marching band, trash can—and/or your dancing feet. Gather in a circle. (Don’t worry; lots of people will already be doing it.) Start a drum beat, let all the other drummers join in, and dance. People will come and go, adding and taking away from an exhilarating rhythm that you can hear from more than a mile away. You’ll get in touch with your inner-hippie, and you’ll get a glimpse of the beautiful, vibrant human diversity Los Angeles tucks away into it sequestered neighborhoods.
Where: Near the Venice Beach boardwalk. Follow the beat of the drums.
When: Every Sunday afternoon/evening.
Go here for information: http://www.venicebeachdrumcircle.com/
Now go embrace the diversity of your lovely city–you only live once.