Drum Corps International
Appreciating the social aspects of drum corps (an essay)

Appreciating the social aspects of drum corps (an essay)

by Drum Corps International

By Flo Brown I recently arrived in Denton to attend school at the University of North Texas. Dallas is a mere 20 minutes away from my new home, so I inevitably found myself in a friend's living room watching the Cowboys in the playoffs.

Flo Brown
Being a jaded 'Niners fan, I found no sense of entertainment in the game. My eyes wandered occasionally and I found that there were several other entertaining activities to engage in, such as counting my heartbeats per minute or studying watermarks on the coffee table. It wasn't until later that I noticed I had learned something from the Dallas game (besides the fact that Cowboys fans aren't fun to be around when the team loses). After I got home, I popped in the Glassmen 2002 tour video and became transfixed. It was absolutely intriguing. I noticed each tired grin, each worn tennis shoe, every freckle on every sunburned face. I realized that I'm not in drum corps because I love the actual activity, I'm in it because I like people. Every time my friends get together to watch DCI videos, I suffer from the same temporary attention disorder I had while watching the Cowboys play football. I get bored, I fall asleep, my mind wanders. I have never really been interested in the technical parts of being in corps -- the drill, the music, the visual package, nothing. I'm in drum corps for the same reason that some people are in college -- the social aspect. Of course, there aren't parties or fraternities in drum corps. I've never been into that sort of thing anyway. What I enjoyed about corps were the details and the friendships. Each time I smell aloe lotion I think of the day we all got sunburned in Port Huron and had to sleep awkwardly as we giggled about our collective discomfort. When I hear a trumpet playing, I think about the horn arc warming up 15 minutes ahead of everyone else, and how we used to tease them about their shorter meal breaks. When I drink water, I remember how much I appreciated the art of chugging during "gush-and-gos." One can imagine what I remembered as I watched the tour video. My heart ached a little, watching how happy I was during movement with my caption head Mark Metzger. Suddenly, I remembered a different memory involving dance -- but from the 2003 season. During move-ins, the color guard would often get together in the G-west gym after formal rehearsals, just to hang out or practice. Since the gym was equipped with a rather elaborate sound system, we would often play our own music while we went over new work. "Moulin Rouge" was playing one night, and a rather large crowd was sitting in the bleachers, working on their dot books. Suddenly, "El Tango de Roxanne" came on. I grabbed a sabre and proceeded to make up the most dramatic (and humorous) work I could think of, performing a tango alone until drum major Matt decided to join me. We became very serious about our routine and slipped into character, spinning and twirling as we pretended to push each other around. The music became more frantic, and we began doing partner work on rifle and sabre. Soon, I was tossing 6's as I leaped underneath, while he hopped around and awkwardly tossed his rifle in the air. The crowd was dying of laughter by the time we finished, with a dramatic dip and faux stage kiss. One member's mother had traveled all the way from the Netherlands to help with move-ins, and I'm sure that we painted a good picture of American drum corps for her. Florence Brown's previous essay Florence Brown marched with the Glassmen in 2002 and 2003, and with the San Jose Raiders World in 2003.

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