Drum Corps International
Sleeve savvy

Sleeve savvy

by Chris Weber

I absolutely adored the Madison Scouts' new uniforms in 2010. Those short sleeves and white gauntlets were snazzy! Was this the first time ever a DCI corps had a short-sleeved uniform? Wilma F. – Appleton, Wisconsin With the drum corps activity's military roots, it'd be easy to suspect that back in the day, uniform designs would have been very formal with all long sleeves, all the time. Believe it or not, though, even in the early 1970s a handful of DCI corps were rockin' the football field fashion runway in short sleeves. Among them were the Blue Stars who took home second place at the very first 1972 DCI Championship in Whitewater, Wis., in a short-sleeved version of their classic cross-strap design, and the all-girl Audubon Bon Bons whose fringed blouses and skirts graced the Championships stage in 1973, 1974 and 1976. More recently, members of the Open Class' Impulse are always hard to miss with their electric yellow short-sleeved uniform tops that feature the corps' trademark exclamation point "ZOT" on the front.

Audubon Bon Bons, Blue Stars, Impulse, Madison Scouts
It's kind of remarkable that long sleeves have stood the test of time in corps uniform designs considering the athletic demand of performances and the sweltering summer heat. But just like drum corps instruments have evolved since 1972, so have uniforms. Many of the top uniform manufacturers now utilize moisture wicking fabrics to keep performers as cool and dry as possible. A great way to trace the evolution of DCI uniforms is through the book "Drum Corps International: The First 35 Years in Photos." It's packed with more than 2,100 photographs of nearly every corps that competed at the World Championships from 1972-2006. Perhaps something to put under the Christmas tree for that special drum corps someone in your life!