During the first week of August, the Seattle Cascades Drum and Bugle Corps laid out their air mattresses on top of cafeteria tables and took to the Perkiomen Valley High School football field to practice their marching routines for competition on their summer tour.
“This is a tremendous school. You have a really beautiful school, you guys really take care of it,” Corps Director Ray Severns said.
While students at Perkiomen Valley might find the prospect of sleeping on air mattresses on the cafeteria floor unfathomable, the Seattle Cascades found it an upgrade from the normal vigor of their competition schedule.
“We get a full eight hours on the floor, which is a luxury for us,” Mr. Severns said.
The Cascades set up shop at the high school in early August, and stayed for three nights until they competed at Allentown. Members of the corps were described to be incredibly committed, as the audition-based program cost $5,000 to participate in and ran for 50 days across the country. Participants were ages 15-21 and from all over the world.
“It’s like the NFL of marching band,” Maria White, a mother of one of the Cascades and an employee on the food trucks providing meals for members, said.
People come from all over the world to audition for the drum and bugle corps, as the organization is highly esteemed in the marching band world. Approximately 150 people competed with the corps during the 2023 summer season. They were fed by semi-trucks converted into operating kitchens, which served each member up to 6,000 calories a day to sustain their intense rehearsal schedule. In the beating summer heat, the cascades were working on routines for around 5 hours every day.
The Cascades also report a large non-binary population, with 30 out of 150 participants identifying as non-binary. Bathrooms were reorganized to make room for a third option for students who felt less comfortable operating within conventionally gendered restrooms. The cast is diverse, and very committed to the art of marching band.
The Cascades went on to compete with 25 different marching band groups with their 90-minute routine. Finals were held in the Indianapolis NFL stadium. 2023 was a revival year, the first competing season after Covid-19 forced them to stop. Some staff members of The Voice took a trip down to the field to watch rehearsals and were thoroughly entertained and impressed by the skills of the band.
“We’re rehearsing and traveling the country doing a high-level marching band experience,” Severns said.
Though the Cascades didn’t go all the way to the finals, they traveled 11,000 miles cross-country to pursue marching band and gained a lot of experience on the field.
The Cascades plan to come back for a 2024 season, and will perhaps stay at Perkiomen Valley High School again after their positive experience the first time.