Drum Corps International
Drum corps spectating: A Primer

Drum corps spectating: A Primer

by Drum Corps International

By Marco Buscaglia . As the season gets set to begin, I thought it might be helpful to consider drum corps fan etiquette. While a drum corps show isn't exactly a night at the opera, it certainly is worthy of your courtesy and respect. At least until you drop that first mustard-covered hot dog in your lap. With that in mind, here are a few of my tips for maintaining pleasurable drum corps experience for yourself and others: If you aren't sitting in a seat when a corps takes the field, wait. You may think you'll be able to slip in unnoticed but the seven people who have to move out of the way to let you pass will certainly notice, as will the people behind them who have to strain their necks to see what's going on. If you insist on working your way through the crowd during the first few minutes of someone's show, don't be surprised to find your Coke knocked over when you return to your seat. It's fun to comment on shows, but you should try to keep your comments to a whisper. After all, the women sitting on the other side of your friend isn't all that impressed with your post-modern explanation of the Glassmen's opener. She just wants to hear her boyfriend's trumpet solo. When a corps is performing on the field, it's meant to an experience for the eyes and ears. No corps has mastered entertaining the nose yet, but that doesn't mean it's not eventually possible. Perhaps one day, a corps can pass out scratch-and-sniff cards that coincide with the show on the field, a la John Waters and his infamous "Odorama" cards from the 1981 film "Polyester." Think of the possibilities -- tying in odors with the theme of your show. Thousands of people scratching and sniffing the fragrant smells of clove cigarettes, port and, of course, body odor, while the Cadets perform a little Jethro Tull; or numerous fans following taking in the smell of gold, the open sea and, that's right, body odor, while the Magic of Orlando perform selections from "Pirates of the Caribbean." You get the idea. Until that glorious day, fans should try to refrain from doing anything -- for lack of a better word -- "smelly" in the stands. Despite the outdoor setting, summer breezes are usually less frequent when the fan next to you smells like a potent combination of Old Spice and Old McDonald. Remember, leave the pipe at home, shower beforehand, take it easy on the pre-show meal fiber and if necessary, change that kid's diaper. Make noise. Clap and cheer and yell and scream and stomp all you want in between tunes or between corps. What ever happened to those canned air horns people used to use in the 1970s? The ear-piercing "BBBEEEAAAAWWWWW!" was practically a mainstay at shows. Bring some of those around, but don't use them until the corps is finished performing. It's respectful to the corps on the field and will give the paramedics extra time to help revive the person in front of you. While I think it's important to make noise, try to keep your vocal chords in check during the ballad or any other moment of the show that can only be described as "tender." We get it -- you can yell REALLY LOUD -- but the corps on the field is trying to create a moment that most people actually get caught up in, at least until the guy two sections over bellows, "FREEBIRD!" I'm all about yelling at drum corps shows -- you are in a football stadium, after all -- but try to have some respect for what's going on down on the field. Turn your cell phone off. If you really think you're that important, at least turn your phone's setting to vibrate. You may think the digital-tone version of "1812 Overture" is cool, but it won't sound that impressive to the Phantom Regiment fans in front of you who are trying to watch their corps. Don't get up during a corps' show. If you have the sudden urge to leave your seat, just remember you have a 10-minute wait, at most. While it's true that a 10-minute pause could pose problems for toddlers who've just gulped down six juice boxes and people who've had an IV kicked loose, the rest of us can wait. When you do get up, you don't need to announce your intentions because of the corps on the field. Comments like, "I've seen this too many times" or, "This is my hot dog corps" announced to the rows behind you are usually met with rolled eyes and blank stares. But you never know if that guy in back just happened to march six years with the corps you've just insulted, and is attending his first show in 13 years as part of a prison-release program. Everyone gets a standing ovation. Everyone -- from the smallest feeder corps to the DCI World Champions. It's not asking too much to get on your feet at the end of the performance to show your appreciation for the members and their effort. They all deserve that, even your corps' rivals. Nothing reflects more poorly on an apparel-clad alumnus or booster of a certain organization than the self-imposed sit-down at the end of the show when others are on their feet. You have to put your personal feelings aside at some point and realize that you're watching a bunch of kids out there performing their hearts out. They deserve to see the audience standing at the end of their show. Marco Buscaglia marched in the Cavaliers from 1984-1989 and the Cavalier Cadets from 1978-1983. He currently is an editor with Tribune Media Services in Chicago. Marco attended his first drum corps show some time in the early 1970s and still has nightmares about the 27th Lancers drum major who nearly ran him over outside the stadium gate after he strayed too far from his mom and dad. Marco can be reached at
marcobuscaglia@hotmail.com
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