Durham County

Drum beats in downtown Durham draw mixed response

Before Batala Durham’s drumming practice Monday night, members said how pleased they were that neighbors were showing support for their outdoor practices at Durham Central Park.

But later in the evening, someone called the police to complain, and Batala received a warning.

A “Batala Love” event Monday night was organized via Facebook by Kirk Royal, a resident of nearby Liberty Warehouse Apartments, a new urban living option in downtown Durham.

Royal’s effort was in response to noise complaints called in to the Durham Police Department this summer from the same building. Monday evening before practice, Batala member Catherine Edgerton said the drummers’ appreciated the support.

“It’s so awesome, so rad, so positive,” she said.

Batala belongs at Durham Central Park, Edgerton said. The group practiced there all summer in 2016, but this summer at least one resident of the newly opened apartments has called in a complaint.

Edgerton and other Batala members talked about how Durham comes together to support arts and culture. As dragonflies buzzed along the open green space next to the Durham Farmers’ Market pavilion, a resident of Liberty Warehouse walked up with her dog. She saw a flier in the building about coming out to Batala’s practice.

Harriet Sava and her husband moved into their apartment a month and a half ago, she said. She can hear and see Batala’s practices from her window.

“I do like it,” Sava said. “I just think this is part of our community.”

She walks her Labradoodle, Luke, at the park. Sava wanted to live in a location where she’d “be able to walk somewhere.” She has lived in Florida and the Washington, D.C. area, and loves Durham. Sava said she’d like there to be a grocery store within walking distance.

Caique Vidal, one of the founders of Batala Durham, grew up in Brazil where he said music in the streets is the norm. He has been teaching Afro-Brazilian drums in Durham and moved here from the Raleigh/Wake Forest area, he said, because of the arts and culture.

Vidal said Batala is not against the new residents of Durham Central Park, but wants them to understand that “Durham is a vibrant city that supports the arts.”

This is what attracts people to Durham, Vidal said. “We’re not trying to pick a fight, we just want to keep the space open,” he said.

Durham Central Park is owned by the city. City Council member Charlie Reece said in July that they’d take a closer look at the city’s noise ordinances.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563, @dawnbvaughan