While the 2019 tour is wrapping up last week, we take a look back to 1986 and how tour has changed and how it hasn’t. Spring Training? Nope, not a thing. The more localized Bluecoats of 1986 had a four-day drill camp around Easter, then three weekend camps between the drill camp and Memorial Day weekend. Today with the rise of participation in WGI, there is one brass camp and one full camp between auditions and Spring Training. Bloo86 never moved in, but practiced each weekend from Memorial Day through opening night on June 20th.
Once the season starts today, it’s a non-stop tour across the country. 33 years ago, there were actually six separate tours, lasting between three and 12 days. When the corps returned home, there were off days (laundry, family time, part time jobs, etc.) and no rehearsals. Sometimes that was a day, maybe two. But in the middle of the season? 14 days off. Yes, two full weeks where the corps did not have a performance or even rehearse. The minority of members who lived too far from Canton would bunk with local members on these days off, but some would travel several hours home during the mid-season break.
That 1986 season featured 21 contests, 3 exhibitions and four parades. When you consider starting a little earlier, finishing a week later and taking two weeks off in the middle of the summer, 28 appearances is not far off what the modern corps does!
Tour is tour, and long bus rides, cold showers and interesting sleeping situations are universal to the activity. Even if you are a part time touring corps like the 1986 version!