After several months of winter rehearsals, the 2005 edition of the Blue Stars arrived at Camp Decorah, ready to lock down the 2005 production Pixelation: The Music of Final Fantasy. This corps was, again, the product of the explosive growth which the corps began to see in 2004. Hopes were high for this corps, complete with a 60-member hornline and a full group of battery, pit, and guard. They would be, by far, the largest corps in Division II and among the most competitive.
The season started off with lots of soul-searchingly tough work at Camp Decorah. Many of the first-year members, myself included, were pondering exactly why we had given up our summer to get veritably whipped. However, a late-night gathering in the mess hall, complete with a long talk with the program coordinator, lots of crying, hugging, and the first singing of the corps song for 2005, reinvigorated the whole lot of us and things started to pick up. Before we knew it we were done with initial training and the shows began. The 2005 Blue Stars hit Mankato, MN.
The main thing I remember thinking while marching onto the field for my first drum corps show was "How the heck did I get here?" For those few moments, I could hardly contemplate how I, a wide-eyed, 17 year-old rookie made it onto that field. I have a feeling I wasn't alone in my thoughts. In what we later learned was a rough show, the 2005 Blue Stars took their first step towards finals, and all were thrilled to be on the road finally.
The first half of tour kept us mainly in the Midwest, and the corps found itself struggling with inconsistency and unfulfilling shows. There was so much wrong, so much to work on, and things didn't seem to be getting better very quickly. All of this took a drastic shift at the DCM Championships in DeKalb, IL. After a not so stellar hornline warmup, the corps convened outside the gates of Husky Stadium. This was when the magic of the 2005 season began. You could feel it in the air. You could feel it in the voices of the Blue Stars singing the corps song. Most evident to the outside world, you could feel it in the performance. The corps took the field with vigor and determination: this would be the first great show. The crowd, daunted in size by the tall bleachers at the stadium, reacted immediately, fueling us on further. The horns came down with intensity and you could feel the buzz from the members on the field: that was it. The DeKalb show had been what we were waiting for. But, there was much more work to be done.
Through the next four major shows, spread out over the next 3 weeks, the Blue Stars made significant jumps in the quality of performance. Kalamazoo, MI found us in unfavorable atmospheric conditions. As the horns warmed up, lightning struck in the distance. For some reason, the chaos of the weather was strangely complementary to the togetherness of the horns during warmup. The quality of that warmup, from every breath-dah attack to every release, was unmatched for the rest of the season. According to Marc Moss, program coordinator, he hadn't heard a hornline warm up like that in years. We met at the gate, slightly soaked, took the wet turf, and threw down a very good show, prompting Marc to toss his hat into the stormy sky.
The LaCrosse, WI show, as can be guessed, was an unbelievable experience. I still remember, at the end of the show, being able to see a man waving a white flag with a blue star on it in the audience. The atmosphere was electrifying; the heart of an entire city, our city, was on our side. On the competitive side, we edged one of our close competitors at the home show.
The next evening, in Michigan City, IN, the corps continued the hot streak they had found themselves in, leaving another great one on the field. The following evening, and the last evening of July at that, the corps met with a lifeless audience in Naperville, IL, but still managed to push themselves to another great performance. While the corps was hot heading into August, the Virginia weather that the Blue Stars were about to meet was hotter, prompting some tough conditions, brutal rehearsals, and disappointing shows.
It wasn't until the Blue Stars got to go on during a cool night in New Jersey that the ship was righted. Spared from the heat, the Blue Stars took the show firmly in hand from the opening hit, and never let go until the drum major called us to parade rest outside the stadium. The corps would never relinquish this momentum, riding the wave into finals week.
Throughout finals week, the corps was fortunate enough to house in air conditioned college dorms, and the series of rehearsals that were had during those days were unlike any other during the 2005 season. The corps improved in leaps and bounds, specifically after the morning performance at quarterfinals. The pinnacle of performance came on divisional finals night, leaving some of the staff saying that the show was as they imagined "in their dreams". During retreat, our pride in ourselves and in our tradition shone through as we stood at a rock solid high parade rest as scores were announced. All that was left to do for Grand Finals was to cut a DVD and crown the work we had done. As it turns out, Grand Finals fell on the hottest afternoon of the summer, with 116 degree temperatures on the turf field. We pushed through it and pushed across a great show, one to be proud of to end the season. Despite the fainting of some exhausted members in the heat, the corps took the field at retreat in the form of a star of david, the long-time symbol of our beloved corps. The work was done. The strife was over. For the ageouts, 2005 was truly a "final fantasy". Their work was done for good, never to be forgotten. For the younger members like myself, the work was just beginning.
The 2005 season for the Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps was one which saw hardship, success, and the maturation of a relatively inexperienced corps. It also marked the end of an era: that of the Division II/III Blue Stars. When the bugles met the buckles on that final, unnecessarily hot, east coast afternoon, a sleeping giant was awoke once again. The work of 2005 had been crowned; the final jewel of the Division II/III crown had been set into place. The members of the 2005 Blue Stars completed the foundation, built during the Division II/III years, from which the corps would climb back into Division I. Now all that was left to do was to take that step. FCO.
Author: John Wadas
2005 DCI Divison II/III Grand Finals - Brockton, MA
1. East Coast Jazz
3. Blue Stars
4. Teal Sound
7. Jersey Surf
8. Raiders (Div III)
9. Oregon Crusaders
10. Taipei Yuehfu (Div III)
11. Yamato (Div III)
12. Memphis Sound
"Pixelation: The Music of Final Fantasy"
The Man With the Machine Gun
Isn't It Beautiful?
Don't Be Afraid