alice mann

2017 - Ongoing

Western Cape, South Africa

These images depict the drum majorettes at Dr Van Der Ross Primary School, located in one of the poorest areas of Cape Town, where gang violence and drug abuse is prevalent.

This is the first set of images of an on-going body of work focusing on the aspirational culture around drum majorettes in South Africa’s marginalised communities, who are affectionately known as ‘drummies’. The girls- only sport’s popularity peaked across schools in the country in the 70s, but participation has since dropped. At present, the majority of drum majorettes come from traditionally disadvantaged backgrounds, and teams keep the sport alive through fundraising drives and sponsorships from local businesses.

While there have been various debates around the notions of femininity that drum majorettes represent, in many marginalised communities across South Africa, it is taken seriously as an organised and highly competitive sport. For the young women and girls involved, being a ‘drummie’ is a privilege and an achievement, indicative of success on and off the field. It gives them a positive focus and sense of belonging, providing them with structure in communities where opportunities are often limited. As a female-only sport, ‘Drummies’ is vehicle through which they can excel, and the distinctive uniforms serve as a visual marker of this perceived success and emancipation from their surroundings.

This is part of my on-going work exploring notions of femininity and empowerment in modern society, and with my continuing investigation into this subculture, I hope to communicate the pride and confidence that these girls have achieved through identifying as ‘drummies’ in a context where they face many social challenges, as well as working to contribute towards creating an engaged and positive representation of this inspiring subculture, which remains largely undocumented.

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  • Taylim Prince, Cape Town, 2017.

    Taylim Prince is a grade 6 pupil, and one of the more senior members, who has been part of the drum majorettes team for 5 years.

  • Values, Responsibility and Caring, Cape Town, 2017.

    There is an intense practice schedule for the drum majorettes team, who practices in various locations around the school depending on court and field availability. The paved quads around the school are decorated with lessons and specific words to help children recap lessons and emphasise specific values.

  • Dernika Williams, Cape Town, 2017.

    At 5, Dernika Williams is the youngest member of the drum majorettes team. She practices constantly during class and school breaks.

  • Blue Court, Cape Town, 2017.

    The school has one sports court, which is used by all the sports teams. The drummies have to be supervised when using this court, there are active gangs present around the periphery of the schools property.

  • Catch up, Cape Town, 2017.

    The school gates leading onto the field have to remain locked at all times, access is supervised by the teachers. Barbed wire surrounds the periphery, but theft is still a problem.

  • Jo-dean Martin and Ashnique Paulse, Cape Town, 2017.

    Jo-dean Martin, who is the ‘drummies’ team ‘leader, and Ashnique Paulse, the team ‘sub-leader’ wear pink and white busbys, signalling their senior positions in the team.

  • Large drill practice, Cape Town, 2017.

    There is an intense practice schedule for the drum majorettes team, who practices in various locations around the school depending on court and field availability

  • Keasher Malgas, Cape Town, 2017.

    Keasher Malgas waits in the team’s kitroom before practice. They store their uniforms and equipment in a space in the school garage space, which is also used as the changing room for the team. The team’s busbys (the specialised hats) are kept safe in plastic containers.

  • Themeline Mentoor, Amber Matthews, Ra’eesha Maneveldt and Keashar Malgas, Cape Town, 2017.

    Themeline Mentoor, Amber Matthews, Ra’eesha Maneveldt and Keashar Malgas. On one of the schools outer fields, sometimes used for drill practice.

  • Tammy-Lee Banies, Cape Town, 2017.

    Tammy-Lee Banies is grade 6, and is one of the senior members of the team.

  • Drummies Boots, Cape Town, 2017.

    The girls are required to have their own boots, which they need to have specially made. They are the most expensive item of equipment the girls are required to own.