These images depict the unique and aspirational subculture surrounding all-female teams of drum majorettes in South Africa, affectionately known as ‘Drummies’.
The sport has a long history in South Africa, and became popular across the country in the early 80s, but participation in the sport has since dropped dramatically. In contemporary culture there is a strong sense of nostalgia linked to drum majorettes; it is viewed as the pursuit of a bygone era. However, in many marginalised communities across the country, it is still taken seriously and is considered a highly competitive sport. For the girls and young women involved, being a drummie is a privilege and an achievement, indicative of success on and off the field. The notoriously demanding practice schedules are representative of the girls’ commitment, and their ability to work hard.
While there have been various debates around the archaic sense of discipline and idealised notions of femininity associated with the sport, being part of a team offers girls a sense of belonging and emboldens their self-worth. The significance of pride and confidence is stressed to the girls, which is vital in communities where opportunities for young women are often severely limited. Being ‘drummies’ allows these girls to excel, and their distinctive uniforms serve as a visual marker of success and emancipation from their surroundings.
This is part of my ongoing work exploring notions of femininity and empowerment in modern society. With my continued investigation into this subculture, I hope that these images can communicate the pride and confidence these girls have achieved through identifying as ‘drummies,’ in a context where they face many social challenges. I want these images to function as a testament to the commitment and determination of these young female athletes, in a world where so many sporting opportunities are still focused on men.
Book release in Autumn 2021. Published by Gost Books