"Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will."
George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On Tour with Blue Stars Part 2: Living

I mentioned in the last post that actually LIVING on tour is much different than working during the day on the truck and going home at night. 

One of the most important things to know is that it will always look like you're living in a refugee camp. Always.

This actually looks fairly neat and tidy.

The picture above is misleading because the gym is big. In some of the smaller gyms they stayed in it's literally wall to wall air mattresses. Towels dry from the basketball hoops. There's daisy chains of power strips and cords everywhere to charge cell phones. Here's Brian and I's personal corner of the staff refugee camp at one school:

We were on the auditorium stage next to drama props. Suitcases, backpacks, towels, blankets, bed. Pretty tidy!

On tour they only get to do laundry about once every two weeks, so there's lots of Febreeze. One guard girl was very ingenious during rehearsal: 

I'm sure these were as good as new when she got back from rehearsal.

Sewing world is set up in the nearest hallway that has tables and outlets. **Note: I was supposed to also be sewing when I was on tour, but found out the physical therapist was sewing genius. I managed to not have to sew one thing until the second to last day of tour!!!**

There's Sally sewing! The kids lose so much weight the uniforms have to be taken in almost constantly at the beginning of the season. 

I've mentioned the schedule is grueling. Here's a typical day: 

Couple things to note: 

--E/S/L is "Eat, Shower, Load." If we're not staying overnight again at the housing site, you have 2 hours to eat dinner, shower, and pack and load all your stuff. Because after the performance it's onto the busses and driving through the night to the next housing site. The fourth meal is typically eaten at the show site. 

--Bus sleep is kind of counted as "half-time sleep." So you should be getting about 7 1/2-8 hours of sleep a night. But any of those hours spent on the busses only count for half. When you get to the housing site and set up camp (takes less than 30 minutes before we're asleep on our bed) you then get floor time till you've made up the 8 hours. 

When we travel we have a whole entourage: 4 charter busses (3 kids, 1 staff bus), 2 semis (equipment truck and food truck), a box truck, souvenir van pulling a souvenir booth, admin van and two RVs (one for staff and one for volunteers). 

4 of these puppies and the staff got the best driver of them all--Pat! 

Bus living is very interesting. Bungee cords become your best friend. You can string them up in front of your seat to hold your wet shower towel, snacks, shoes, anything really. The kids seem to have a lot more stuff to keep track of than the staff: 

Look at all the bungees!

Shower organizers are also very handy on the windows.
When I was first on tour our volunteer RV was broken so we had to sleep in the back of the huge 15-passenger vans. Each person got a bench to themselves. It was actually the best sleep I got while on tour. It's like a little cocoon laying down between the seats. I could stretch out to my full height. I downloaded a white noise app and listening to static all night actually made it really easy to fall asleep. Dex and Gary kept me safe in the back of the souvie van so I never had to worry about what would happen when I fell asleep. Sleeping in THIS, on the other hand, was a nightmare: 

Top right bunk was mine for a time.

The thing about sleeping on the top bunk in the back of an RV is this: even if you have a spectacular driver, it will always feel like you're going 100 mph. So you lean way over and look out the front window and realize you're only going like 55!! How is that even possible?! And when you're towing a trailer with a quad runner on it, the back of the RV will shake and make a noise that sounds like the back is about to fall off. There were times when I would catch myself on the shelf from a dead sleep to keep from rolling onto the floor. The first time we started moving and I was on the top bunk I couldn't do anything but laugh hysterically for the first half hour. It was so comically dangerous I couldn't believe I was actually supposed to fall asleep at some point. But, you saw the daily schedule. I eventually fell asleep. 

The thing about tour is there's lots of drama. Living in these conditions with the same people for months can be pretty insane at times. See practically everyone on tour is extremely passionate about drum corps and the Blue Stars in general. And everyone also thinks they have something vitally important to contribute to the corps (and most genuinely do!). So by default, these passions are bound to clash every once in awhile is such close quarters. The nice thing is that the season ends, banquet is sentimental and heartfelt, and there's just enough time before November camp for everyone to forget their spats and let bygones be bygones. And then they do it all over again for the next season. :) 

Are we going to be at Blue Stars next summer? Are we going to be involved in a professional aspect of drum corps at all? These are all questions that will be sorted through and answered in the coming weeks. Regardless of what is on the agenda for next summer, I know this one that this one will be one for the record books. I can't imagine there's anything quite like your first summer of drum corps. 

1 comment:

  1. this is awesome and hilarious. also, that schedule is nuts!


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