In the fall of 2001 a group of people gathered in a small music study room at Cerritos College in Norwalk, California, to plan the formation of a performing unit for musicians who were no longer eligible to march any of Southern California's existing junior drum corps. Dream was born out of these discussions.
Originally named The SoCal Dream Machine, then quickly shortened to just SoCal Dream, the senior drum corps received initial support from the Impulse Youth Arts Organization.
The corps chose purple and black as their colors, a look that they debuted in the summer of 2002, dressed in their trademark bowling shirts and fedoras. SoCal Dream performed as a stand-still exhibition group during that inaugural season, playing old drum corps favorites such as "Walk Him Up The Stairs" and "El Gato Triste."
2003 was the SoCal Dream’s first competitive season, during which they produced a full field show based on music from the motion picture "The Mambo Kings." Baseball caps and black coats replaced the fedoras and bowling jerseys as the corps began to develop a distinctive image and set an independent course for the future.
In the fall of 2003, SoCal began to build a foundation as an independent organization. Grateful for the support from the Impulse Youth Arts Association, the corps filed for non-profit status and altered their name to simply Dream as a sign of their rebirth and independence. In addition to the name change, the Dream Association of California was formed as a business entity to foster support for the drum corps and subsidiary groups.
In their first DCA Prelims appearance in 2004, Dream finished 18th with a show entitled 'Boogie Nights: Dreamin'-Old Skool Style (Unplugged).'