Clubs give kids structure and practice everywhere from neighborhood parks to parking lots under highway overpass
Many local kids spend several hours most weekday nights during the summer months practicing drumming, dancing and drills.
The kids are part of clubs that take part in lively, high-energy weekend competitions and other events that often draw sizable crowds, including visitors and teams from across the region and the Midwest.
Parents and supporters say drill, drum and dance groups and activities teach important skills, like discipline and teamwork.
“I like it so much because it keeps them busy,” said Remy Boyd, whose two daughters are drill team members of a local group. “It’s a positive thing, and a lot of kids don’t have nothing to do.”
But some residents who live near a city park where a local club practices say the drums are very loud and disruptive, and they wish the group would find another place to rehearse that is not so close to people’s homes.
Kids involved in drill, drum and dance teams need tons of practice to get the moves, music and routines down ahead of competitions and other community events, like parades.
Many clubs practice most weeknights, if not every night.
Boyd‘s 9-year-old daughter, Malaysia Treadwell, is captain of her peewee drill team squad, and her 12-year-old daughter, Maxzaira Harvey, also is a drill team member.
“They love to compete, they love to dance and they dress up very pretty,” said Boyd. “I love it because it makes my kids smile ... And black kids don’t have a lot of things to do.”
Boyd’s daughters’ club practices outside, like many other local groups.
The practices certainly make noise, but the public park is the one of the most convenient and appropriate places for kids to rehearse, Boyd said.
It’s a public space, and many things kids do in public make noise, she said.
Some supporters say drill, drum and dance clubs often practice outside because they don’t have access to indoor spaces that can fit all of the kids.
Last month, Schafer, the president of the Sandalwood Park Neighborhood Association, spoke during a city commission meeting to raise her concerns about a drill, drum and dance club that often practices at Sandalwood Park.
Schafer, who has lived near the park for 33 years, said the booming drums drown out her TV and interrupt conservations, adding that her 83-year-old husband is “losing his mind” over the noise.
She said the practices take place about 530 feet from her house, and some of her neighbors live much closer than that.
She said the loud noises force residents to keep their windows closed in great weather, upset people’s dogs and disturb the sleep of some neighbors who have to get up for work early in the morning.
Schafer said there are more suitable places to practice nearby and that are not close to houses, like Triangle Park, Kettering Field and Island MetroPark.
“Everyone wants to see them continue — not a single person who is disturbed by it want to see the kids stop,” she said. “I guess I feel it’s just a misuse of our little park.”
She said she surveyed her neighbors, and most said the noise was bothersome.
Representatives of the drill, drum and dance group that practices at Sandalwood Park declined to comment for this article.
Dayton police have responded to more than a dozen calls for service related to noise at the park since late April, but officers did not issue any citations and referred the matter to mediation, a police spokesperson said.
Standard city park hours are 8 a.m. to sunset, and the group’s club manager/coach has told officers practices will conclude by 9 p.m., the city and police said.
A different club called the Western Stars Drill Team & Drum Line practices about three hours a night, five days a week in downtown Dayton.
The rehearsals take place at surface parking lots along West Monument Avenue, under and by the Interstate 75 overpass.
Assistant director Dionna Rodgers said the group practices outside because it doesn’t have access to a facility large enough to house the activities and the 85 youth who are involved.
Western Stars has not had issues with noise complaints or unhappy neighbors, except for one time when the practice lasted longer than usual and someone who lived nearby asked if they could keep the noise down, said Rodgers.
She said they just moved across the street, and that took care of the neighbor’s concern.
Rodgers, 33, who performed with the Western Stars when she was growing up, said the kids in these groups learn valuable life skills while doing activities they love and honing their talents.
“We hold them accountable, we teach discipline,” she said.