Forget your bugle biases
This ain't no disco... but it's no military drill either

by Anabella Wewer

I never thought I'd say this, but the Drum and Bugle Corps competition was fun. I would never have gone on my own, but it's one of those things you do because someone you care about wants to go. Instead of being bored out of my mind, as I thought I would be, I was actually excited. It is a strange combination of musical expertise, marching, choreography and color.

If you were to look away from the field and then looked back during a transition, you'd probably describe what you see as chaos. One group of players is rapidly walking one way, while another group is side-stepping the other way, and yet another group marches down the middle, while girls in flowy, colorful dresses run around and in between the players, waving flags and twirling bayonettes up in the air. Impeccably, though, they all end up in perfect formation, never running into someone else, and never, ever, missing a beat.

My first mistake was to assume I was in for a military type of display. While some of the teams were very much that, with the color guard toning it down a bit, most were far from it. There were touches of theatrics to some of the presentations; they had the look and feel of musicals. Props and uniforms, along with definite ethnic beats, transported the audience through time periods and regions of the globe. The Madison (Wis.) Scouts got a standing ovation when the drum players rapidly exchanged drums without missing a beat, as the all-male color guard, dressed in Spanish bull-fighter jackets, danced zarzuelas in wooden platforms. The Cadets of Bergen County (Pa.), with trees and park benches as props, dramatized the emotions of seeing friends and loved ones off to a war, while The Carolina (N.C.) Crown made you feel as if you were in the middle of a rainstorm, gigantic umbrellas and all.

Some other teams, while still abiding by every rule (I assume, by their placement in the competition), made the whole thing look and feel more like a statement. The facelessness required in military operations was nowhere to be found when the Boston Crusaders took the field. Dressed in perhaps the most beautiful uniforms in the competition, reminiscent of Revolutionary War uniforms, the players were accompanied by a color guard with a ton of attitude. No flowing skirts here; red pants, black waist-length jackets, suspenders and black berets instead. While they waited for their cue, their arms were crossed and their chins up high in an almost defiant attitude.

The Velvet Nights, from California, also were a complete surprise to my predisposed mind. The band players sported bright-yellow baseball caps instead of band hats (you know, the ones that are really tall and have feathers), and instead of entering the field in perfect formation, they ran every which way and cheered and screamed at the crowd. Not what I would have guessed would happen. They were having fun, and so was I.

From what I saw on the back of someone's t-shirt, the tour started after school ended in late May and is ending at the end of August. If you can't catch them this year, make sure you do next year. Leave your predisposition at home, bring a cushion for your bench cause this thing lasts four hours (no, it didn't feel that long; I found out when I got hungry), and enjoy the show.

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