Drum Corps Diary 2010: On the Road

Color guard member Annie Ochoa from Pacific Crest Drum and Bugle Corps tells about her first stop on the road, and the crazy weather that helped bring the young section together. This article is the fourth installment in our 2010 drum corps diary written by various members of Pacific Crest.

Three days after leaving our home state, and it hasn’t hit me that we’re on tour just yet. When I left the house with my luggage in hand, I felt like a little kid going to Disneyland for the first time. That excitement carried over into a great rehearsal and an even better show at our first site in Mesa, Ariz.

What a way to welcome the rookies to the drum corps world than to stop in Arizona. The color guard this year is relatively young; the majority of the members are going through this for the first time. We had only eight returning members out of 31 total.

Overwhelming Heat

Southern California weather had spoiled us with the wonderful sunshine and below seventy degree weather as soon as the sun goes down. The rest of the country isn’t as forgiving, however. With a 20-minute walk to and from the equipment truck, and the sun beating down on our yet-to-be-sunscreened skin, our morning spirits were already slightly dampened.

The rule for the day was not to talk about the weather because we were in Arizona and acknowledging the overwhelming heat would prove detrimental to our rehearsal etiquette. Thankfully, the only thing that reminded me that I wasn’t in California was that there were no mountains, but cacti grew all around our housing site. Thinking it was going to be a few degrees above extreme discomfort, most of the guard was mentally prepared for what was to come. I’m not saying that parts during the day weren’t difficult, but I think we were better prepared for the circumstances entering the state.

Once the new rule was invoked, though, that projected misery didn’t come up as much. You could see it in the energy in our bodies though. The sun was draining us quick. Despite all that, and something that I don’t think anyone in the guard noticed, was that we were all constantly pushing each other. At the end of ensemble, we did a production run to keep our bodies in good shape. With each number, more and more voices were being heard to go full out for just a little bit longer. In the heat, through the wind, we were all there for each other. The best part of all that is that our show hours later were very reflective of that.

“California Gurls”

Between rehearsal and warm-up, we all went through our show preparation routine. The sock buns were tight, and hair was sprayed and gelled to the maximum with what seems like 20 bobby pins holding it in place. At the show site, the sun started to go down, but the heat didn’t let up. The same motivation to keep going through the hottest part of the day fueled the excitement and fun that we had during warm-up. Something so simple as a good song, such as “California Gurls” by Katy Perry, being played on the radio during stretches gave us what we needed to have one of the best warm-ups we’ve had this far into the season.

I think somewhere in the concern of the scores and the need to be a better guard, we forget that we’re here for fun. We weren’t forced to be here; we pay to be. I have voluntarily given two summers of my life for this and am currently giving my all into my last summer of corps. Tonight we had a fun warm-up, but of course it wasn’t over yet.

Rain Delay and a Spark of Fire

A few minutes before heading to the gate, lightning that was happening in the distance brought over some rain and thunder. Sure enough, a storm came in and delayed the show. An hour and fifteen minutes after projected performance time, we took the field. Because of the rain, the show turned into an exhibition, so corps members didn’t have shakos and were in halves while the guard changed back into our warm-up outfits.

Nothing was different, even if we didn’t have a field judge and weren’t being scored. We treated the show like any other and actually had a little more fun than usual. Walking off the field we felt a different positive energy. It was a good kind of different, perhaps something we have been looking for all this time. For me personally it was the kind of feeling that I think will change the guard. One day in Arizona, and we go through some pretty hot weather, deal with a little bit of wind, have a great warm-up, encounter rain minutes before the show and have an amazing exhibition performance. Nothing says welcome to drum corps better than that. Here’s to that fire that was sparked today and the hope that it stays for our long week in Texas.

About author

Annie Ochoa

Annie Ochoa is in her 4th year at Loyola Marymount University. She is majoring in English and minoring in Sociology. She is in her third and final season with Pacific Crest Drum and Bugle Corps; she is aging out. This season she is also one of two captains.

In the Toaster

Advice for color guard performers from Catina Anderson. From Halftime Magazine, the sights, sounds and spirit of the marching arts.