This week, we'll be focusing some editorial power on drum corps memories from our Canadian friends and thoughts about drum corps north of the American border -- we are Drum Corps International, after all. By Marco Buscaglia For the most part, drum corps tours take place between the coasts. Sure, occasionally a corps travels to Europe, but for the most part, members spend their summers traveling on the mainland of the good old U-S-of-A. Unless, of course, you go to Canada. Canada is one of those stops on tour that would seem noticeably different than all the rest. Maybe it was the smaller pop cans, the French accents or the familiar logos matched with unfamiliar words. The DCI Canada shows in Hamilton were always fun -- large, enthusiastic crowds cheering your every move. But if I remember correctly, the schools we stayed at were the highlights of the stops -- clean, nice showers, new gym floors -- kind of like a "best-of" of affluent suburban American high schools. The first time I passed the Canadian border, I was 10 or 11 years old, and traveling with the Cavalier Cadets. We stayed at North Star Hall in Kitchener, Ontario, which housed the Dutch Boy and the Dutch Boy Cadets. After getting used to the normal accommodations of junior high schools in Illinois and Wisconsin, this was the life. This place was a corps hall? Our own hall looked like a hallway in comparison. But that's how most things in Canada remain in my mind -- a bit shinier, a bit bigger and a just a little bit better looking. Who knows, maybe it's the socialized health care. But to get to Canada, one has to go through customs, which was always an experience. Anyone who has marched has probably heard variations on the same speech before your corps crosses the border: "No jokes and no sarcastic comments or they'll tear this bus apart," or something along those lines. The customs agent would enter the bus and ask if we were all born in the United States. Most of us fought the urge to say something witty, like "Si," "Oui" or "No hablo ingl?©s." It was a group "Yes" and we'd be on our way. Some time in the 1980s, while crossing the border with the Cavaliers, I remember watching the 27th Lancers pulled off to the side, with suitcases lined up alongside the bus. It looked like an impromptu customs search while we passed on through. Since it was the middle of the night, we could see them all sleeping through their open windows. At that point, most of us -- then all of us -- were awake. They were too, after we pulled alongside them and yelled, "WAKE UP!" at the top of our lungs before the bus pulled away. Sure, that's got little to do with Canada, but like Ding-Dong-Ditch, that one never gets old. To be honest, I checked up on this story with a friend of mine and he tells me that I'm actually combining two different incidents. But I don't remember it his way, and they flow together so nicely. OK, back to Canada. No matter where you toured, Canada just always seems cleaner than the homeland. The view from the bus revealed cleaner streets, cleaner freeways and cleaner buildings. The sounds from the parking lot revealed girls with French accents. Shows in Canada just seemed so global, especially those with announcers bearing those same French accents. Of course sometimes, they can sometimes work against you. At a show in 1988 in Montreal -- complete with a male/female team announcing each corps in corps in French and English -- we were defeated by the Star of Indiana. We lost most captions at a show that just happened to hand out caption awards. By the third or fourth "Star of Indi-aaaaannnn-a!" we were tired of the accents, but at least a new summer catch-phrase was born. While shows in Canada are enjoyable, they pale in comparison to the favorite Canadian offering: free days. If you end up in the right city, you accomplish the double feat of cool locale and preferred companions. A bunch of wide-eyed kids walking the street looking for restaurants that serve that escargot stuff, and anything else that differs from standard American cuisine. Still, there are always those that opt for the Le Big Mac, but they're the same ones who probably are still afraid to eat at Taco Bell. After one particularly festive free day, we sat in our buses waiting for the last few stragglers to make their way back to the bus. Right before pulling out, a local young gentleman climbed up the side of the bus and stuck half of his body in the window, screaming something in French -- I think it was, "It is my dream to one day be a member of your esteemed baritone line." He stayed there long enough for us to get a few photos and exchange a few high-fives. Viva la photo opportunity! So of all the places to go without a passport, Canada ranks right up there with Florida, California and parts of Iowa. Now if only they could do something about the Expos. ... So, who has a corps-related tattoo? If you're sporting a little body art you'd like to share your motivation -- and a photo -- with the rest of the drum corps class, drop me an e-mail. Aging out isn't worth the weight The ABCs of drum corps fans Show concept promises all-out KISS and tell 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 can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.