By Florence Brown
I have a secret to confess: I marched a whole year without knowing which halves of the field were referred to as "side 1" and "side 2." Most drum corps kids did marching band when they were in high school -- cold fall nights, football fields, and long rehearsals. They probably knew which corps they wanted to march in at age 13, and were probably taping pictures of their favorite performers to the inside of their lockers in high school.

Members of Fairfield High's Scarlet Brigade
When I was in high school, I had no idea what drum corps was. My band director made it forbidden to utter the words "drum corps" and "Blue Devils" in his band room, so I figured it wasn't worth my time to investigate their meanings. The interesting part about my marching band's total ignorance of corps was that our staff consisted of (you guessed it) Blue Devils. I grew up in Fairfield, Calif., in what I lovingly refer to as "the gated ghetto." Northern California has an interesting mix of both upper/middle class suburban neighborhoods as well as low-income project homes. My high school marching band was an eclectic combination of both those elements, and I was one of the color guard captains as well as the band representative. Translation: I was a big ol' band geek. The interesting trait of Fairfield High's Scarlet Brigade was that we didn't march in field shows. I had no idea that field shows existed until my color guard instructor mentioned that he taught the Glassmen. The who? Drum corps what? All I knew of marching band were bagpipes, plaid skirts and marching down a street in a straight line. I know, it's hard to believe. But the picture here proves it. My instructor convinced me to march with the Glassmen. I was thrown onto a field with a huge drill book and no sense of direction, and I learned how to march by AVOIDING everyone else on the field. Hash marks and yard lines had no meaning to me, there was only run or be killed. So I ran. All season long, I ran like a little lab mouse in a maze, all the way through the "Odyssey" show. And then I came back. I was determined to understand the logistics of drum corps and actually write something in my dot book besides "Go left." My boyfriend was incredulous when he realized how little I understood of what I loved so much. "Well Flo, when you look at the field from the audience, the sides read '12:' left is 1 and right is 2 ..."
Florence Brown, 19, is a journalism major (with a minor in dance) at San Francisco State University. This spring, she will transfer to the University of North Texas. She marched with the Glassmen in 2002 and 2003, and with the San Jose Raiders World in 2003.