History of Arbella 1975 – 1983

A little history….


At one time, Drum and Bugle corps was the third largest youth activity in the United States, coming after scouting and little league.  Here in New England there were literally HUNDREDS of drum corps, nearly every city had one!  Beverly, Salem, Danvers, Malden, Lynn, Burlington, Rockland, Revere, Boston, to name just a few cities off the top of this writer’s head.  Drum and Bugle corps offered kids up to the age of 21 to be a part of the pageantry that was once found amongst military bands in the post-war era.


The kids started young – many as young as 8!  They learned to march with pride and precision whilst mastering a bugle, or drum or flag.  They became part of a family of dedicated children, parents and supporters, working tirelessly all summer long to compete against other corps within their class to earn coveted titles.  Riveralries formed, titles won and lost, legends were born.


Amongst those legends was the Arbella Drum and Bugle Corps of Salem.  Arbella  was actually thecombination in 1976 of two local  all-girl corps, the Comets and the IC Rockettes, in an effort to prevent either from folding due to financial pressures.  Armed with a new image , attitude, management, dedicated parents and talented instructors, the corps relaunched and never looked back. In 1979, The Arbella travelled to Birmingham, AL to win the coveted DCI Championship, this, when the average age of the corps was just over 12 years old!


In 1982 the decision was taken to let boys (gasp!) into the corps.  Another image change and a powerful program helped the corps to go on to win the US Open and other titles that summer.  By 1983 however, the corps never made it to Finals, finally succumbing to financial pressures.


For those who have marched Arbella, or any other corps, whether it was for 1 year or 10, it is impossible to free oneself from the grasp drum corps has on one’s soul.  Practicing 16 hours a day in the Midwest heat, travelling on the luggage rack of a tour bus, sleeping on gymnasium floors (inthe years before air beds!), spit shining your boots until the wee hours of the morning, sucking on lemons to keep your mouth from drying up, running through the drill until it’s perfect…then running through it one MORE time…how can one derive such pleasure from apparent tortures?


It is of this passion our Arbella Corps is reborn.  We set sail as a small but passionate group of drum corps nuts, musicians and guard to recapture and share with our friends, family, fans and community, all of the goosebump-causing thrills of drum and bugle corps at its best.