Drum Corps International
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Drum Corps International logo
|Type||Drum and Bugle Corps|
|Location|| United States
|No. of corps||46 (World & Open Classes)|
|First champions||Anaheim Kingsmen|
|Current champions||Bluecoats (World Class)
Blue Devils “B” (Open Class)
Drum Corps International (DCI), formed in 1972, is the non-profit governing body for junior drum and bugle corps in the U.S. and Canada. Junior corps are composed of members 21 years of age and younger. DCI is composed of member corps who have earned their membership through competition. It is responsible for developing and enforcing the rules of competition and is the sanctioning body for junior corps competitions. DCI is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. Its Board of Directors is composed primarily of directors of the member corps.
The stated purpose of a DCI corps is “…to provide a life changing experience for youth through the art of marching music performance.” The DCI competitive summer tour, consisting of DCI-sanctioned competitions throughout the United States, culminates in August with the week-long DCI World Championships.
Other drum corps associations around the world are largely based upon DCI.
- 2Active corps
- 3Class structure
- 4Drum corps season
- 5DCI Championships
- 7Other DCI activities
- 8See also
- 10External links
In 1971, at the urging of The Cavaliers founder Don Warren and Troopers founder Jim Jones, the Blue Stars, The Cavaliers, Madison Scouts, Santa Clara Vanguard, and the Troopers formed the Midwest Combine. A similar group of Eastern corps, the United Organization of Junior Corps (also known as the “Alliance”), was formed by the 27th Lancers, Garfield Cadets, Boston Crusaders, Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights, and Blue Rock.These actions was taken in reaction to the rigid, inflexible rules of the American Legion and VFW (the primary rule makers and sponsors of both corps and shows) and the low-to-nonexistent performance fees paid for appearing in the various competitions. The corps felt that not only were they having their creative potential as artistic performing groups stifled, but they were being financially starved. The two groups’ members felt that the corps should be making their own rules, operating their own competitions and championships, and keeping the bulk of the monies those shows earned. For the 1971 season, the Combine and the Alliance stuck together, with both groups offering show promoters their five corps as a package. Despite pressure on show sponsors, judges, and other drum corps, the corps were not only booked into a number of shows together, but the Combine found a host for a show of their own, which was a spectacular success despite fears of failure that lasted until a standing-room-only crowd arrived literally at the last moment. In 1972, the ten corps from the Alliance and the Midwest Combine, plus the Anaheim Kingsmen, Argonne Rebels, and De La Salle Oaklands were the founding members of Drum Corps International. The inaugural DCI World Championships were held at Warhawks Stadium on the campus of University of Wisconsin–Whitewater with 39 corps from 15 states and one Canadian province in competition. The Anaheim Kingsmen were crowned the first DCI World Champions on August 18, 1972.
The Academy – Tempe, Arizona
Bluecoats – Canton, Ohio
Blue Devils – Concord, California
Blue Knights – Denver, Colorado
Blue Stars – La Crosse, Wisconsin
Boston Crusaders – Boston, Massachusetts
The Cadets – Allentown, Pennsylvania
Carolina Crown – Fort Mill, South Carolina
Cascades – Seattle, Washington
Cavaliers – Rosemont, Illinois
Colts – Dubuque, Iowa
Crossmen – San Antonio, Texas
Jersey Surf – Camden County, New Jersey
Madison Scouts – Madison, Wisconsin
Mandarins – Sacramento, California
Oregon Crusaders – Portland, Oregon
Pacific Crest – Diamond Bar, California
Phantom Regiment – Rockford, Illinois
Pioneer – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Santa Clara Vanguard – Santa Clara, California
Spirit of Atlanta – Atlanta, Georgia
Troopers – Casper, Wyoming
7th Regiment – New London, Connecticut
The Battalion – Salt Lake City, Utah
Blue Devils B – Concord, California
Blue Devils C – Concord, California
Colt Cadets – Dubuque, Iowa
Columbians – Pasco, Washington
Genesis – Austin, Texas
Gold – Oceanside, California
Golden Empire – Bakersfield, California
Guardians – Seguin, Texas
Heat Wave – Inverness, Florida
Impulse – Buena Park, California
Incognito – Garden Grove, California
Legends – Portage, Michigan
Les Stentors – Sherbrooke, Quebec
Louisiana Stars – Lafayette, Louisiana
Music City – Nashville, Tennessee
Raiders – Burlington, New Jersey
River City Rhythm – Anoka, Minnesota
Southwind – Mobile, Alabama
Spartans – Nashua, New Hampshire
Thunder – Veradale, Washington
Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets – Santa Clara, California
Watchmen – Riverside, California
Currently, DCI assigns North American corps to two classes, and corps from Europe and Asia are assigned to the International Class. Corps from all classes often compete together, but are judged and ranked separately. In the past, classes have been fully or partially determined by the number of marching members in each corps; at present, all corps may march up to a maximum of one hundred fifty (150) members.
World Class (formerly Division I) corps are the corps that have chosen to compete at the highest level and that have shown the DCI leadership that they have the ability to survive at this level both competitively and financially. The higher a corps is ranked at the DCI Championships, the higher the performance fees they will earn for the following season’s performances.
Open Class (formerly Divisions II & III) corps are generally smaller or committed to a lesser competitive level. In September 2007, DCI combined the former Divisions II and III into this new division.
International Class is for corps based outside North America that wish to participate in DCI competitions. Corps in this class are allowed to follow certain of their own country’s organizational guidelines which are not allowed for North American corps, such as a higher maximum age limit and use of woodwind instruments. International corps which abide by DCI rules, however, would be eligible to march in Open or World Class. Through 2015, corps have competed in International Class from: Guatemala, Indonesia, Japan, theNetherlands, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
Historic classes and divisions
|Open Class||Open Class||Open Class||Open Class||Division I||World Class|
|Class A||Class A||Class A||Division II||Open Class|
|All-Girl||Class A60||Division III|
Class and division membership limits
- Open Class (1972–92) had a membership limit of 128.
- Class A generally had 90 members or fewer although
- All-Girl Class was for corps with membership restricted to girls only: there was no such class for corps restricted to all-boy membership; the membership limit was 128.
- Class A60 and the later Division III had a maximum of 60 members; a controversial minimum of 30 members was added later.
- Division II had the same membership limit as Division I but a generally lower level of competitive expertise.
- Division I went from an original membership limit of 128 to 135.
- World Class, the current Open Class, and International Class all have a membership limit of 150.
Drum corps season
Prior to the advent of DCI, many locals corps were a year-round youth activity. Still, the competitive season generally ran from Memorial Day to Labor Day, which essentially coincided with the school systems’ summer break.
Today, drum corps is often still a year-long activity, but not in the same manner. Where once memberships were almost entirely local, many corps now have a membership drawn from all over North America and the world. Therefore, off-season activities occur during “camp” weekends. At the early camps, potential members audition for membership in the corps. Later, the members gather monthly or bimonthly to work in preparation for the summer. As the season nears, many corps go into intense, full-time camps, with the members “moving in” and spending days on end in preparation for going “on tour.”
At the present time, the competitive season begins in mid-June and ends with the DCI World Championships during the week of the second weekend of August.
For members of all World Class corps and the most competitive Open Class corps, the activity is a full-time summer commitment. Members travel from show site to show site, performing in competitions and parades across North America nearly non-stop until the DCI Championships. Corps travel by coach buses in convoy with semi-trailer trucks holding equipment and field kitchens. Once on the road, members generally sleep on the buses as the corps travels at night, and in sleeping bags on school gym floors when their next destination is reached. The corps practice their shows for as long as the schedule allows during the day, and then they go to the stadium for the local competition. After each show is over, the cycle repeats, with only a few breaks in the cycle for laundry days and an occasional free day for relaxation.
Some corps have neither the finances nor the member commitment to spend the entire summer “on tour.” Some of these corps restrict themselves to local competitions only. Others may delay the start of their touring, marching only a short season on the way to the DCI Championships.
DCI age limit
Drum corps as governed by DCI is a youth activity. As such, there is an age limit, usually stated as “for members 21 years of age and younger.” Under the rules, a person who has turned 22 before June 1 of the year is ineligible to march. If, however, a young person does not turn 22 until June 1 or later, he or she remains eligible for that season. Those over the age limit are able to march in the senior or all-age corps of Drum Corps Associates.
Some European and Asian associations allow their “youth” to be up to 25 years old. Corps from those associations are allowed to compete at the DCI World Championships in the International Class.
The DCI Championships, first contested in 1972, are the culmination of the drum corps season. Originally held during the third weekend in August, this has moved to the week of the second weekend in August, as the school year has lengthened and the Championship activities have increased.
Over the years, the DCI Championships were held in college or professional sports stadiums in eighteen U.S and Canadian cities, spread from Montreal in the north to Miami in the south, and from Boston in the east to Pasadena in the west. Since 2009, however, the Championships have been based in Indiana, with the Open Class Championships being held at Ames Field in Michigan City and the World Class Championships at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. On August 6, 2015, it was announced that the DCI World Championships and DCI’s headquarters would remain in Indianapolis through 2028.
Beginning in 1975, the DCI Championship Finals were televised on PBS. From 2006 to 2007, they were carried on ESPN2. Although the Finals have not been broadcast live in several years, since 2004, the quarterfinals have been screened live at a large number of movie theaters across the country.
During championships week, in addition to the Open Class and World Class Championships, Individual & Ensemble (I&E) competitions are also held, typically at an indoor facility near the championship stadium. Members of all corps are able to compete, and participating members often use much of their limited free time to prepare their I&E routines. There are a great number of categories or captions for each individual brass and percussion instruments, for auxiliary (aka “color guard”) equipment, and for brass, percussion, auxiliary, and mixed ensembles. In the 2005 season, I&E included woodwind instruments for the first time, in recognition that many marching members play instruments other than brass and percussion. In 2014, competitions for DrumLine Battle and SoundSport were added to the week’s activities.
Drum Corps International champions by year and division or class
|Year||Open Class / Division I / World Class||Class A / Division II / Open Class||All-Girl Class||Class A60 / Division III||International Class
See Note A
|1972||Anaheim Kingsmen (CA)||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|1973||Santa Clara Vanguard (CA)||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|1974||Santa Clara Vanguard (CA) (2)||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|1975||Madison Scouts (WI)||Cadets of Greece (NY)||St. Ignatius (NY)||N/A||N/A|
|1976||Blue Devils (CA)||Wausau Story (WI)||St. Ignatius (NY) (2)||N/A||N/A|
|1977||Blue Devils (CA) (2)||Bengal Lancers (CT)||St. Ignatius (NY) (3)||N/A||N/A|
|1978||Santa Clara Vanguard (CA) (3)||Black Watch (WA)||Les Chatelaines (QUE)||N/A||N/A|
|1979||Blue Devils (CA) (3)||Black Watch (NJ)||Arbella (MA)||N/A||N/A|
|1980||Blue Devils (CA) (4)||Ventures (ONT)||Ventures (ONT)||N/A||N/A|
|1981||Santa Clara Vanguard (CA) (4)||Southernairs (LA)||Les Chatelaines (QUE) (2)||N/A||N/A|
|1982||Blue Devils (CA) (5)||Dutch Boy (ONT)||Les Chatelaines (QUE) (3)||N/A||N/A|
|1983||Garfield Cadets (NJ)||Les Chatelaines (QUE)||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|1984||Garfield Cadets (NJ) (2)||Florida Wave (FL)||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|1985||Garfield Cadets (NJ) (3)||Ventures (ONT) (2)||N/A||St. Francis Xavier Sancians (MA)||N/A|
|1986||Blue Devils (CA) (6)||Canadian Knights (ONT)||N/A||St. Francis Xavier Sancians (MA) (2)||N/A|
|1987||Garfield Cadets (NJ) (4)||Ventures (ONT) (3)||N/A||Mandarins (CA)||N/A|
|1988||Madison Scout (WI) (2)||L’Insolites (QUE)||N/A||Mandarins (CA) (2)||British (Dagenham) Crusaders (UK)|
|1989||Santa Clara Vanguard (CA) (5)||Ventures (ONT) (4)||N/A||Blue Stars (WI)||—|
|1990||Cadets Of Bergen County (NJ) (5)||Ventures (ONT) (5)||N/A||Academie Musicale (QUE)||West Coast Cadets (UK)|
|1991||Star Of Indiana (IN)||Southwind (AL)||N/A||Pioneer (WI)||—|
|1992||The Cavaliers (IL)||Southwind (AL) (2)||N/A||Mandarins (CA) (3)||SGI Fuji (Japan)|
|1993||Cadets Of Bergen County (NJ) (6)||Carolina Crown (NC)||N/A||Blue Stars (WI) (2)||Phoenix Regiment (Japan)|
|1994||Blue Devils (CA) (7)||Pioneer (WI)||N/A||Americanos (WI)||Pride of Bristol (UK)|
|1995||The Cavaliers (IL) (2)||Pioneer (WI) (2)||N/A||Academie Musicale (QUE)||Bay Max (Japan)|
|1996||Blue Devils (CA) (8)
Phantom Regiment (IL)
|Les Etoiles Dorion Vaudreuil (QUE)||N/A||Mandarins (CA) (4)||Yokohama Scouts (Japan)|
|1997||Blue Devils (CA) (9)||Spartans (NH)||N/A||Mandarins (CA) (5)||Pride of Soka (Japan)|
|1998||Cadets Of Bergen County (NJ) (7)||East Coast Jazz (MA)
Spartans (NH) (2)
|N/A||Mandarins (CA) (6)||—|
|1999||Blue Devils (CA) (10)
Santa Clara Vanguard (CA) (6)
|Patriots (NY)||N/A||Mandarins (CA) (7)||Yokohama Scouts (Japan) (2)|
|2000||The Cadets (PA) (8)
The Cavaliers (IL) (3)
|Vanguard Cadets (CA)||N/A||Cascades (WA)||Taipei Yuehfu (Taiwan)|
|2001||The Cavaliers (IL) (4)||Mandarins (CA)||N/A||Blue Stars (WI) (3)||Taipei Yuehfu (Taiwan) (2)|
|2002||The Cavaliers (IL) (5)||Magic of Orlando (FL)||N/A||Revolution (TX)||Taipei Yuehfu (Taiwan) (3)|
|2003||Blue Devils (CA) (11)||Esperanza (CA)||N/A||Blue Stars (WI) (4)||—|
|2004||The Cavaliers (IL) (6)||Spartans (NH) (3)||N/A||Oregon Crusaders (OR)||Beatrix (Netherlands)|
|2005||The Cadets (PA) (9)||Spartans (NH) (DII)(4)
East Coast Jazz (MA) (DII/III) (2)
See Note B
|N/A||Raiders (NJ)||Taipei Yuehfu (Taiwan) (4)|
|2006||The Cavaliers (IL) (7)||The Academy (AZ)||N/A||Impulse (CA)||Jubal (Netherlands)|
|2007||Blue Devils (CA) (12)||Spartans (NH) (5)||N/A||Memphis Sound||Yokohama Scouts (Japan) (3)|
|2008||Phantom Regiment (IL) (2)||Vanguard Cadets (CA) (2)||N/A||N/A||Beatrix (Netherlands) (2)|
|2009||Blue Devils (CA) (13)||Blue Devils B (CA)||N/A||N/A||—|
|2010||Blue Devils (CA) (14)||Blue Devils B (CA) (2)||N/A||N/A||Strängnäs (Sweden)|
|2011||The Cadets (PA) (10)||Blue Devils B (CA) (3)||N/A||N/A||Yokohama Scouts (Japan) (4)|
|2012||Blue Devils (CA) (15)||Oregon Crusaders (OR)||N/A||N/A||—|
|2013||Carolina Crown (SC)||Vanguard Cadets (CA) (3)||N/A||N/A||Taipei Yuehfu (Taiwan) (5)|
|2014||Blue Devils (CA) (16)||Blue Devils B (CA) (4)||N/A||N/A||Patria (Guatemala)|
|2015||Blue Devils (CA) (17)||Vanguard Cadets (CA) (4)||N/A||N/A||Jubal (Netherlands) (2)|
|2016||Bluecoats (OH)||Blue Devils B (CA) (5)||N/A||N/A||—|
Note A: Some associations outside the U.S.A and Canada allow members to march until as late as age 25. Therefore, corps from those associations can march with, but not in direct competition with, Open Class corps. The highest scoring of these corps at the DCI World Championships is named the International Class champion. There are some years when no corps from outside the U.S.A and Canada attended World Championships, so no International champion is named for those years. (Prior to 1988, international corps were allowed to compete against North American corps, despite variations in elegibility.)
Note B: In 2005, Spartans won the Division II Finals. However, in 2004 and 2005, DCI also had a Division II/III Grand Finals for the corps with the 12 highest scores in Division II and Division III Finals; this was won by East Coast Jazz.
Corps with five or more Drum Corps International titles
|Corps||Open Class /
Division I /
|Class A /
Division II /
|Class A60 /
|Santa Clara Vanguard|
|Blue Devils B|
- † = 4 as Garfield Cadets, 3 as Cadets of Bergen County, 3 as The Cadets.
DCI and the individual drum corps derive a large part of their revenues from marketing their product. DCI not only sells tickets to its sanctioned competitions, but it is also the primary distributor of audio and video merchandise for the junior drum and bugle corps activity, mainly via its web site.
The DCI videos are produced by professionals who primarily work for the major broadcast and cable television networks. Audio products have often been produced by Grammy Award winning recording engineers.
Other DCI activities
In early 2013, Drum Corps International launched two new competitive musical activities for small groups. Unlike DCI’s drum corps, units in these activities are not restricted by age limits or a short competitive season. Both activities have seen immediate interest, with many groups forming around the world. Nations where these activities are growing include the U.S., Canada, China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, and Ireland.
Drum line battles have been going on for years, but not in a formal, competitive format. In DrumLine Battle, drum lines of up to 30 marching members (no grounded percussion) compete in head-to-head judged competition. The competitions may be held either live and face-to-face or online, allowing groups from all over the world to compete against each other. Judging criteria is not restricted to technical proficiency, but includes showmanship and attitude. In 2014, E-Sarn, a drum line from Thailand, traveled to Indianapolis to compete in the DrumLine Battle contest held during DCI Championship week and defeated the drum lines from 15 U.S. drum corps and marching bands. One of the other 2014 competitors in Indianapolis was the River City Rhythm drum line from Minnesota which transitioned into the River City Rhythm Drum and Bugle Corps and entered into DCI Open Class competition in 2015.
The stated goal of SoundSport is to provide the drum corps competitive performance experience in a low-cost, local setting. Musical ensembles of 5 to 50 members, using any musical instruments, perform a 5-7 minute marching music show in an area measuring 70′ wide by 50′ deep.
Two 2013 SoundSport teams (Guardians and Watchmen) became DCI Open Class corps for the 2014 season. DCI member corps Southwind, temporarily inactive from 2007-2013, performed as a SoundSport team in 2014, before moving back into DCI competition as an Open Class corps in 2015.
- Marching Arts
- Drum and bugle corps (modern)
- Drum and bugle corps (classic)
- Marching Band
- Color guard (flag spinning)
- Drum Corps Associates
- Winter Guard International
- List of DCI drum corps
- Drum Corps International: The First Decade: 1972-1981; Nicholas Waerzeggars; Drum Corps World; 2012
- “DCI.org News: Determination: Believing in the Midwest Combine”. Drum Corps International. March 12, 2004. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
- “DCI World Championships”. Maher Associates, Inc. RetrievedAugust 9, 2015.
- A History of Drum & Bugle Corps, Vols. 1 & 2; Steve Vickers; Drum Corps World; 2002 & 2003
- “Speaking with one voice: The advent of ‘Open Class'”. DCI.org. Retrieved 2007-09-24.
- “DCI Executive Committee approves formation of ‘Open Class'”. DCI.org. Retrieved 2007-09-30.
- Tannert, Emily. “The Ageout rule”. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
- “Drum Corps International and City of Indianapolis announce 10-year contract extension”. DCI.org. Drum Corps International. RetrievedAugust 6, 2015.
- “Drum Corps International”.
- “Drum Corps International”.
- “Coming soon to a theater near you: A larger-than-life DCI experience!”. DCI.org. April 23, 2004. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
- “email@example.com – Historical Drum Corps Score Archives”.
- “Drum Corps International”.
- “Three new Open Class corps set to join the 2015 DCI Tour”. Drum Corps International. May 14, 2015. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
- “Drum Corps International”.