Teen rep proposes dance club for youths During the week, center would be a coffee house

July 17, 1996|By Erica C. Harrington | Erica C. Harrington,SUN STAFF

Trapped between prepubescent mall cruising and adult-only bars and nightclubs, teen-agers in Columbia search, often in vain, for evening and weekend entertainment.

River Hill village board teen representative Holly Maggio has proposed a possible remedy: a teen dance club in Columbia.

"Teen-agers want someplace to go and have fun, and a dance club would provide it," Maggio said.

Though she does not have a detailed plan yet, the 16-year-old envisions a center in Columbia that would be a coffee house during the week and a dance club on the weekends.

Although Columbia is close to popular night spots such as Fells Point in Baltimore and Adams Morgan in Washington, their myriad bars and clubs are reserved for those over 21.

And while Columbia's Teen Center in Oakland Mills offers games, arts and crafts, sports and occasional dances for 11- to 17-year-olds, it generally attracts only the younger end of that scale, teen-agers say. That makes it unattractive for older ones, said 17-year-old Tim McGrail of Kings Contrivance village.

"You don't want to go there and have people biting your knees," said McGrail, who for entertainment goes to friends' houses or to Laurel to play pool. "We need a place to chill for a while where we don't have to worry about the cops telling you to get out of there because you're loitering."

Maggio said a teen dance club would reduce the number of house parties where teen-agers drink and smoke -- and attract police attention.

Last spring, Maggio surveyed 500 students at Atholton High School, where she will be a senior in the fall. Four hundred of the students said they wanted a club, and 94 said they were not interested.

Maggio said she got the idea for a teen club when she visited one on a ski trip to Vermont in February. She said the need for teen clubs is universal.

"There's a definite need or want in any town you go to," she said.

Maggio wants to plan a trial party to gauge interest in having a dance club. She said she would plan it after checking on the turnout at a Columbia Teen Center-sponsored pool party at Dasher Green pool, held last night.

So far, reaction to Maggio's ideas has been cautiously positive. David Berson, Columbia Council representative for River Hill, said Maggio must show some demand for a teen center.

"If we can find something to do once a week in a nonalcoholic, nondrug environment, then we're supportive of those efforts," Berson said.

Pub Date: 7/17/96

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