Drum Corps · Lifestyle · Travel

Tips for Being Great Seat Partners

Note: This post operates on the bias that Gigi and I are the best seat partners in Drum Corps International ever.

I’ve had 2 seat partners my 3 summers of drum corps, and a great relationship with both. Particularly when I marched Colts, Gigi and I were a perfect match. Our second year together (my ageout), we decided to be the best SPs in DCI. We called it “Winning Seat Partners International”.

Other than both being from Florida, Gigi and I had plenty of other things in common. Some things we didn’t realize until AFTER we agreed to sit next to each other for the whole summer. This isn’t a post on selecting a good SP; there are many different approaches and benefits and cons of those approaches. This is about having a great time with a great person.

  • Regularly switch seats. Gigi liked the window seat, because she could lean and sleep on it. I was fine sleeping upright, but on the way to shows I preferred the “more private” window seat so I could focus better (and at this time she preferred to socialize). So we just rotated seating, and it worked out perfectly! This way we both enjoyed both seats, and for the things we preferred to do. This also prevented us from saying “That’s MY seat” (see more about yours/mine/ours in future point)
  • Date others, or have an open relationship. As seat partners, Gigi and I were “married” to each other. But along with switching seats between us, we regularly switched seats with others on our same bus. This allowed us to hang out with people we didn’t get a chance to, gave us both the occassional space or change of scene, and just made us more accessible/friendly.
  • Think ours, not mine/yours. Gigi and I shared everything between our seats. We preferred to say “ours” instead of “mine/yours”. The syntax is nicer, and promoted a more communal seat-partnership. I mean we definitely had our own things, but everything was open/available for the other person to use. We had each other covered. We shared food, make-up wipes, gatorade, etc.
  • Shared bus boxes for easy access. So if you’re in the window seat, it can be really hard to access your bus box! Those in the aisle had a much easier time sliding the box into the aisle and then hoisting the box into their lap. But what did we really want access to most often? Snacks! Gigi and I combined the snacks we bought and put them in the aisle bus box, while our books, note cards, and journals were in the window bus box. We didn’t need to access those that often, so we didn’t really have to go through the hassle of grabbing that box from under the seat. We also split the cost of bussnacks, with one of us buying the “salty/crunchy” things and another responsible for purchasing the gatorades or “chewy/fruity” foods.
  • Develop a system for getting on the bus. EPL is the Chaos block between the final run and leaving for the show site. It make sense to only make 1 trip onto the bus, but if you wait until then it’s likely the overhead space is already filled. (I don’t know why but there doesn’t seem to be enough overhead space!) After the final run, one of us would take the equipment to the truck and the other would take both field bags onto the bus to reserve the space. This saved time by cutting out a trip!
  • Develop a system for getting off the bus. Even more than EPL, I HATE getting off the bus at 3am in the morning. Everyone is so grumpy and angry at the world, and dragging luggage through an unfamiliar space isn’t cheering. Also at the Colts, we weren’t allowed to roll our luggage. YUP, we had to pick up and carry our suitcases across the member gym. So Gigi and I assisted each other with our luggage. We each roll our luggage as far as we can, then abandon one to carry the other suitcase across. Going back later to retrieve the other. Yes we make two trips (one for my bag and one for hers), but we’ve found it’s better to take two “easier” trips of luggage than struggle to carry it once. (You’d have to stop and take a break anyway.) Help out with luggage.
  • Dislike the same people. A seat partner is so much more than a close-proximity roommate. The bus is a safe place in drum corps, because just for the moment you’re done rehearsing and you’re away from staff and most (at least two-thirds) of the drum corps. And when I’m in my seat after a show day, I’m ready to get the day off my chest by talking about it. Yes this very much included complaining about everything from block, the sites, and about certain people. It’s difficult and risky to complain about staff and other members because drum corps is a family and we care about each other. But like all families that care about each other and live very close to one another, we get annoyed by others. To feel better sometimes I just needed to explain my side of the story to someone who would listen, not judge, and maintain confidentiality. Our bus seat was a safe place for both Gigi and me to vent.


Gigi and I were perfect-for-each-other seat partners. We never fought, things most always went well between us, and we felt that we truly practiced the word “efficient” as well as “effective”. Most of being a good seat partner is being a good roommate and a good friend, but I feel that Gigi and I went beyond that by creatively experimenting with ways to make the whole bus-life easier and thus the whole drum corps season more enjoyable.

Is anyone going to try any of these things? What are some things you do with your seat partner that sets you apart?





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