Drum Corps International
Florida Wave: 1984

Florida Wave: 1984

by Michael Boo

Last week we were treated to a column about Ray Floyd's experience gained by his three daughters marching Florida Wave. This week, the two-part series on Wave continues with Evan Rogovin's memoirs of the corps' successful 1984 season, when they performed every night during the DCI World Championships. 1984 was my first year in drum corps as a member of the Florida Wave. I was a junior in high school and my section leader convinced a bunch of us to go to the first camp. Well, I fell in love with drum corps. I didn't have that kind of teaching and experience in school, so for me it was like a new world was opened to me. It was the first time I really learned to play a brass instrument (soprano bugle) and the first time I was ever really challenged with something so new! I had to learn how to stand, march, play, perform and emote, all while digging the discipline the activity took. I had never seen a drum corps before (even though DCI was in Miami in 1983!) except for some videotapes at a corps party one night. I'll never forget our first show in Alabama. With the words "Florida Wave -- you may take the field in competition!," my knees started shaking and I started freaking out. It was my first-ever real drum corps competition! Well, our drum major, Richard Wooley, counted us off and I MISSED THE FIRST STEP-OFF OF THE FIRST SHOW OF MY LIFE because I was so darn nervous! Anyway, I got to see the Garfield Cadets, Spirit of Atlanta, Suncoast Sound, Pride of Cincinnati, etc., and I was blown away by drum corps. My first show altered the course of my life forever. It was at that point I think I knew I wanted to teach music. The corps was competing in Class A all year and was winning every Class A show. I remember warming up before the show in Toledo and how the horn line was cranking! It was very windy, cool and the weather seemed to give us all a charge. I don't know if that is possible, but that is what it truly felt like. We had a great show and won and the staff told us that it was "very exciting," but that we allowed "our emotions to hamper our execution." It was then I think my understanding of the activity was raised to a new level. I began to understand what was expected of us and how to achieve it. With great teaching by our staff, we realized that we could focus that energy and execute while still having an exciting performance. So many fond memories: I remember when Frank Williams worked with us for a couple of days on tour and got us to really swing in the swing section of "Malaga." Frank spent two hours on one measure, or so it seemed, but here again my standards and those of the corps were raised yet again. Anyway, DCI World Championships were in Atlanta in 1984. We arrived at our housing sight to find out MANY, MANY DISTURBING ISSUES: 1. The gymnasium floor had been ripped out and we had to put our stuff down on basically gravel, dirt, granite or whatever the filthy stuff was. 2. The only field at the school was totally overgrown with grass and weeds, so we had to bus to a field a couple of miles away. 3. OUR HOUSING SITE WAS TWO HOURS AWAY FROM GRANT FIELD! Needless to say, the corps, volunteers and staff all put forth 100 percent to accomplish our goal: to entertain the heck out of drum corps fans. DISCLAIMER: I wish I could tell you all about each and every show during Finals week, but honestly I barely remember them. What I do remember are all the places I visited, people I met and all the friends I made along the way. I remember the great teaching I received from truly selfless human beings and the overwhelming generosity of our parent and adult volunteers. The spirit of one group united in one goal was almost intoxicating at times. Results: Florida Wave, 1984 August 13 Division II Prelims, 87.60 (1st place)
August 14 Division II Finals, 94.00 (WORLD CHAMPS!)
August 15 Prelims 76.50, 1st place
August 16 Quarterfinals, 75.50, 21st place
August 17 Semifinals, 74.50, 20th place (WAVE EARNS MEMBERSHIP STATUS!)
August 18 Finals exhibition performance As you can imagine, the four hours on the bus to and from Atlanta each day and the busing to and from practices did wear on us by finals night. I remember we were blocked up under the north end zone in Grant Field, getting ready to do our Finals night exhibition. The mood was one of disinterest. We had all purchased Finals tickets months ago in a block and had been looking forward to watching the show in regular street clothes, feeling incognito. Because we had to play all the corps on for the finalists' retreat at the end of the night (yes, the entire corps, not just the drum line), we couldn't be just regular teen-agers! I know, you are saying "those crazy kids," but I guess even in this activity you can get a little selfish. Rest assured that Jeff Bridges "woke us up." Jeff, our visual caption head, staff and programming coordinator -- he seemed to do everything -- more than sternly reminded us that we were the Class A World Champions and were about to be the first corps in history to perform each night of DCI finals week. He also reminded us that we got to perform on Saturday night, a night when many corps couldn't wear their uniform one more time, or march their show one more time, or feel the emotion, power and energy of each and every corps member focused on the audience, determined to give them pause to cheer! Yet once again on tour, when I took something for granted, drum corps reminded me about the discipline and sacrifice a performer must exhibit. The corps had a great exhibition and quickly set up the retreat block to watch a great finals. From the Velvet Knights to the Garfield Cadets, each member got to experience what we did, a chance to perform one last time on Saturday night. Looking back on the accomplishment is quite satisfying. We were the first corps to perform during all six nights of finals week. Winning the Class A World Championship and finishing in 20th place was amazing, and a memory that we will all have forever. Membership status was important for the corps at the time and getting to perform at Semifinals was a goal for the corps and something that would make previous Wavers proud. Well, thanks for taking me down memory lane with you. It certainly reaffirmed in me what is so positive about drum corps and why it should always remain a part of our culture.
 
Michael Boo has been involved with drum and bugle corps since 1975, when he marched his first of three seasons with the Cavaliers.

He has a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition.
   
He has written about the drum corps activity for over a quarter century for publications such as Drum Corps World, and presently is involved in a variety of projects for Drum Corps International, including souvenir program books, CD liner notes, DCI Update and Web articles, and other endeavors. Michael currently writes music for a variety of idioms, is a church handbell and vocal choir director, an assistant director of a community band, and a licensed Realtor in the state of Indiana. His other writing projects are for numerous publications, and he has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. His hobbies include TaeKwonDo and hiking the Indiana Dunes. But more than anything, Michael is proud to love drum corps and to be a part of the activity in some small way, chronicling various facets of each season for the enjoyment of others.

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