The LA Decompression was my first experience with a drum circle and I was amazed. What seemed like pure noise from a distance gradually differentiated itself into a base rhythm with all sorts of swirling riffs drifting around it. I found I could actually hear individuals if I just kept my eyes on them and cast about with my ears for what a drum like they were playing would sound like.
This led me back to my childhood days of random banging on whatever my parents were careless enough to leave lying around. I didn't have a clue what I was doing, and unfortunately still don't. However, since I want to bring as much of myself as possible to Burning Man next year, I have been giving thought to what would be the cheapest yet most fun way to indulge in a little banging in my adult years. I recently emptied out a coffee can and was more than a little stunned at what noises I could get out of just that. I even found that if I used two pencils with rubber erasers as drumsticks, I could more easily get tones out of the metal end. Find some way to add some rattle underneath the plastic end and you have a snare drum. Seal up a couple of used cans with some sand or maybe rice inside, then alternate that with a knife scraped along the ridges on the outside.
I'm trying as much as I can to think along the lines of "use what you've got", or in my case, what I expect to have by the time I leave next August. I know the variety is effectively endless, but I know there are people out there who have experimented and come up with all kinds of crazy stuff. Please share if you can!