It takes most marching bands and drill teams months of hard work to prepare for a parade. But for the Doo Dah Dominoes, practice is as easy as falling down.
"It's a simple idea--get people together and fall down," said Allan Martinet, founder of the Doo Dah Dominoes, who will perform in Pasadena's 12th annual Doo Dah Parade on Sunday.
"It's fun as long as you're in decent shape and can fall on your knees," said Martinet, who owns Bam Graphics in Arcadia.
The group practices up to three times a year. The first practice is held at a beach party in August, "where the sand is soft and it doesn't hurt to fall down," Martinet said. The second practice is held in mid-November at Newcastle Park in Arcadia. The third practice occurs the day of the parade and acts as a dress rehearsal, with the members dressed as dominoes.
The parade, a parody of the Rose Parade, is scheduled from noon to 2 p.m. More than 100 groups will participate in the parade that begins at Fair Oaks Avenue and Union Street, zigzags up and down several streets and ends in Central Park.
The Doo Dah Dominoes aren't the only ones to take a lax attitude toward practicing for the admittedly wacky parade. Groups like the Synchronized Briefcase Drill Team and the Pen Clicking and Baby Bottle Maracas Band hold practice sessions that require minimal time and talent.
At their practices, the Doo Dah Dominoes, made up of about 30 of Martinet's friends and relatives, form various shapes and then fall down in rapid sequence. The group's routines include the Domino Diamond, the Domino Maze, the Domino Y and the Circular Domino.
Apart from the occasional bruised knee or scraped hand, the routines are fairly harmless. Any risk, Martinet said, is caused by those outside the group.
"The danger at one parade, not the Doo Dah, was that there were horses in front of us. We had to do a little sidestepping, and the dominoes weren't falling quite the way they were supposed to," he said.
It may take the Doo Dah Dominoes only 3 days to prepare for the parade, but the Synchronized Briefcase Drill Team requires even less preparation. All they need are 2 hours, at least two beers each and a briefcase.
"There's a mandatory practice of concentrated close-order drill for about an hour on the Sunday before the parade," said Jack C. Kemp, founder and leader of the suit-and-tie-wearing drill team.
The group also holds a 45-minute practice on the morning of the parade.
"It's mandatory that everybody drinks at least two beers," said Kemp, a Bank of California vice president.
When he first heard about the parade in 1979, Kemp created the drill team and entered it in that year's parade. This year will mark the group's 10th Doo Dah Parade.
The group has about 30 members, with an average of 16 showing up for performances. Most are either bankers or lawyers.
Although the most visible arm of the group is the drill team, others associated with the group perform equally important jobs, "like beverage allocation officer and beverage rotation officer," Kemp said.
He said the drill team knows about 10 maneuvers. These include Present Case (holding the briefcase at arm's length), Bankers' Spin (forming a star with the cases and marching around them), Breast Case (holding the briefcase close to the chest) and Crown Chase (double time).
The most difficult part of the routine, Kemp said, is the Philly Kick. The tricky movement entails six successive showgirl-like kicks alternating in direction from right to left.
"It's kind of like an attorney version of the June Taylor Dancers," Kemp said.
Kemp said the group adds one new maneuver for every Doo Dah Parade. But it's a closely kept secret and he refused to disclose what it will be this year.
The Pen Clicking and Baby Bottle Maracas Band also spends very little time practicing. To prepare for the parade, band members need only a pen, a baby bottle, minimal coordination and about an hour of practice.
"Of course we practice," said Myra Posner, the group's founder. "We don't want to look stupid; we want to look polished and stupid.
"The first year we practiced about a month before the parade and had one planning session. Now we practice a day before the parade," said Posner, who works as a sales representative at Sigma Diagnostics in Orange County. "That's all it takes. We're all very smart."
The group's intelligence was never in doubt. Some in the 20-member band are medical re
searchers and many others have doctorates in various disciplines. But it doesn't take a Ph.D. to be a member of the band, only the ability to march and the will to click.
The most difficult part of being in the band, which has participated in three Doo Dahs, is "getting everybody marching and having their hands in the right position. Hands in, hands up, hands down, hands right, hands left," Posner said. "It's difficult keeping everybody coordinated."
'Shaking and Lunging'
The band will also be "shaking and lunging, like they do in aerobics classes," she said.
Posner said she and some co-workers got the idea of forming the band from the pens provided for her at work. They "break out and flip open."
"You can't help but click it," Posner said.
In the past, the band used only the sounds of pens clicking to create its rhythmic cadences. But a new instrument was introduced to the group this year, the baby bottle maracas, which consist of a baby bottle with corn kernels inside.
"We're not in high demand yet for parades other than the Doo Dah, but after this year we will be. The baby bottle maracas will put us over the top," she said.
Posner said she decided to enter the Doo Dah Parade because it is an escape from her usual life style.
"I'm such a normal person all year long, it's so out of character for me to do this," she said. "But I went to the parade one year and said to myself, 'Why not?' "