It started with a beat and a worn-out drum.
As a starry-eyed freshman, I decided that signing up for just about every single club at Club Fair was an incredibly smart decision. Just when I thought I’d head in and eat lunch, a shining drum caught my eye from between the Electronic Music Club and Model UN.
I had seen the drum corps before in middle school: so elusive, so cool. Granted, I had never actually drummed before, but I figured drumming would be a nice way to relieve stress in a decidedly non-violent way. I had long dreamed of being Ringo Starr when I was very young, but my mother saw piano as the practical instrument option. What did I have to lose? Two days and a rather embarrassing audition later, I was a fully operational, card-carrying member of the SJS drum corps and headed off to perform at my first football game.
The following Monday after lunch, I sat down in the freshman hallway with a couple of my friends. As we were talking, I got out my drumsticks and started playing on the floor. Immediately, I started getting weird looks from sophomores and juniors in the hallway, even from people I considered my friends.
“Did you know what you were signing up for?” one of my sophomore friends asked me.
What I now realize is that as a freshman, I was regretfully uninformed about the apparent uncool nature of drum corps.
I decided to sit down and examine the one aspect of drum corps that some people might see as strange: the attire. While the rest of the school is clad in red, white, black or even neon, the drum corps sports themed clothing like Pirates versus Ninjas. One tradition is for seniors to pick out clothes from a thrift shop for the freshmen to wear before the Kinkaid game. I can understand that wearing a corset is a foreign decision to the vast majority of the SJS community. Otherwise, there is not really anything out of the ordinary about drum corps.
It begs the question: in a school that takes pride in embracing all sorts of extracurricular activities, is there still a social totem pole at SJS? The automatic answer is that, yes, there is. But in a school where even an all-male acappella group is deemed popular, how is anyone supposed to know where they stand? Who even determines popularity anyway?
There is no broad, sweeping generalization you can make about drum corps. There are those who are athletic. There are those who are artistic. There are those who enjoy lengthy conversations about calculus. There is no one specific type. The same applies to the SJS population. Despite what students at Episcopal might think of us, we don’t spend all of our time doing homework — just a great deal of time.
The SJS drum corps comes to every varsity football game in Houston. When it rains, we pack the drums, momentarily move out of the rain, and then come right back out as soon as it stops raining. We play when the team loses. We play when the team wins. We even play at the Maverick Ramble.
Before I joined drum corps, I had no intention of attending a single football game other than the Kinkaid game and the freshmen tailgate, where I would have access to free food. When we head out to the game, drum corps cheers whether or not we win. I exemplify the lessons the administration tried to teach me at the freshman retreat, wherein I actually talk to juniors and seniors instead of simply staring at them with a mixture of admiration and frightened awe. When I leave the bleachers, I trudge home to open my laptop in a feeble attempt to do homework, when in reality, I am just going to end up on Netflix.
Whether the average student loves drum corps or has gradually lost their sense of hearing from standing in front of us on a first down, I am attempting to convey a message from behind all my snark: do not judge me. I am obviously doing something I enjoy, or I would not be devoting my time in this fashion. At least this way, when my Saturday night rolls around and I’m on the internet, I can say that I’ve done something with my weekend.
After all, idle hands are the devil’s playthings.