The I Love Steppin 8th Anniversary Review Back
Apr 25, 2016
By Tracey Bivens
The first person I went up to was DJ Mykel “Shorty Smooth” Farr who was setting up for Jeff Clark’s I Love Steppin 8th Anniversary Friday night set. The reason why I went to him is because I was still feeling some kind of way about losing Prince just like everyone else was. If you were a fan or not a fan, you were affected by the ethos around you. Purple this, constant 24/7 coverage on television, radio/social media and any personal Prince memorabilia you may have had in your collection. I didn’t see how Mykel was going to be able to pull it off and make over 600 people love steppin this weekend.
He said, “Tracey…I have an obligation to make these people be led by the music I play. I’m not going to let the memory of Prince’s music fall down by the wayside but I am going to honor the theme of this weekend, pay homage to the steppers and one of the greatest musicians of all time.”
And in that same fashion…so will I through my Paisley Park themed review.
The Beautiful Ones
When steppers come out to steppers sets they come out with so much flair and personal ownership of what they want to be represented in. Many people had already invested in the beautiful white and blue “I Love Steppin” shirts or t-shirts this year but there were also a lot of people who came accented with Prince regalia as well. Aside from that, the real stars of this weekend were…the constant pictures being taken on social media. There was a time before the i-phones came out that people came to sets and spent a lot of time watching each other on the dance floor. There were either spying the latest moves or talking to each other. That still goes on to a certain degree. Now…you see individuals taking selfies, usies, etc. ALL NIGHT LONG! If I had a dollar for every pose I saw, every set of teeth I viewed and every hug…I would easily have $1500 in my pocket from this weekend. Steppin affairs seem to have turned into I Love Steppin and Taking Pictures all night events. By the way…thanks to Chicago’s Willie Bell and Melvin Munningham for your picture taking efforts.
Let’s Go Crazy!
DJ Mykel’s Prince tributes were clearly the highlight of the event for me. If you left the set before 1:00am on either night, you missed out on a medley of Prince songs that didn’t require steppin but required you to pull out your own personal tributes on the dance floor. The Saturday night tribute had everyone pulling out those beloved i-phones again and putting them in flashlight mode. The floor was pitch black and when I tell you whatever song Mykel put on you would see people shaking, popping, grinding, hip rolling…you name it. Because the lights were out it gave people license to be as naughty as they wanted to be and as free as they felt they should be. I was getting it in just like everyone else. I think only Prince’s music could have pulled everyone who was there between the ages of 25-80 out on the floor like that. That was genius Mykel…sheer genius!
Starfish and Coffee (Yes…he made a song about food)
D’Angelo’s catering took care of the food for each night. I thought it was kind of interesting that the customary chicken wings and fries or hot dog type of foods were not served but dishes like gumbo, macaroni and cheese, bar-b-que rib tips, green beans, etc. was served. That might explain why I saw so many people nodding off before midnight from itis. (Laughing)
Lady Cab Driver
There was a gentleman from Ohio that came up to me and asked me a question. “Tracey…what’s up with all these women leading the dances all of a sudden? Every time I come out there’s more and more women that do that stuff.” I had an answer for him but I don’t think he wanted to hear the answer just like a lot of people don’t want to admit the truth.
Women are getting tired of sitting at sets waiting…and waiting…for a man to be freed up to dance with them. So they are empowering themselves and learning how to lead the dance. I counted 18 women leading during the course of both nights. Some led women…others led men. There are of course mixed opinions about whether this is a good thing or not. This writer goes by the number of invitations the group the Steady Steppers has received in the last month Larry Collins and members of his organization to come to their cities to lead instruction in this phenomena. According to co-founder Collins, “the ladies have spoken and we are here to service their requests in any way we can through this dance.” To my knowledge no other instructional organizations are doing this except The Steady Steppers.
Sign of the Times
As I get older in life and in this dance community I have come to realize that in order to survive in the dance world, you have to be true to yourself. I think this is what Jeff Clark has done very successfully. He has always stated all he has ever wanted to do is come out and dance and provide a place where steppin is offered. You will never see him stop the party so he can walk out and be introduced…nope…not his style. If you try hard enough, you may get him to smile but that’s about it. So many promoters invest a lot of money into decorations, souvenirs, matching suits, etc. and Jeff Clark has demonstrated that 600 + people will show up just because they want to dance. Something to think about.
Question: What is the purpose of couples traveling across the perimeter of a crowded 3,000 square foot floor with their partner during the course of a song weaving in and out of other couples? Can somebody explain this to me please?
Things or people that stood out Friday and Saturday: Oni Faulkner and her 5 inch heels that she stayed in ALL night. Candy Prater and her smile. The “Twin Towers” Shelena Jones and Marisette Coleman from Birmingham, AL. Talk about style. Both of these ladies are over 6’2 but have the steppin grace of ballerina Misty Copeland. The Burns’ JB and April! Milwaukee’s Erika Jones and that flexibility…woo hoo! All the first timers…about 120 of them!
I hate I missed Sunday’s Brunch with You+Me=We but I’m sure it was everything it was expected to be and more!
In the house…my I Love Steppin crew, Debbie Deb Dixon, Rose McDaniel, Nicole Holsey, long time no see Adisa Ambonisye, Barbara Kolar-Steeves, Vashon and Titania, Sharon Reed-Mays, Nora Alexander, Amanda Anderson, Erika Little, Jennifer Toles, Kendra Willis, DJs Amy Rosseter, Paul Ross “The Boss”, Butta Michelle Mason and Steppin E, Karla Jeffries, Ohio’s Jacqueline with Clint “Roc” Rockward and Choc James…look out for big things from these two guys. Karla Jeffries, Darlene “G-Doll” Mans, Brenda Williams, Qiana Wilson, Cliff Big Slim Reynolds and a cast of others from about 12 different cities and states.
I hope to see everybody in June at DJ Rockin Rodney Mack’s White Party until then…party like it’s 1999!