I Love Steppin 6th Year Anniversary Weekend Review Back
Apr 27, 2014
By Tracey Bivens
Let’s face it. Jeff Clark is a creature of habit. The Shriners Silver Gardens Center played host to I Love Steppin’s 6th Year Anniversary weekend festivities…AGAIN. The "fishtail” stage was in full effect. I will say this though…the 400 plus attendees on both nights have clearly out grown this facility…so Jeff Clark…get to shopping for a new venue in 2015.
I always like the anticipation that goes along with the mega weekends in Detroit. Travelers from the Detroit Metropolitan area, Chicago, Toledo, Akron, Cincinnati, Ypsilanti, Muskegon, Milwaukee, Columbus, Florida, Atlanta, Cleveland and California love the I Love Steppin brand enough to brave the unpredictable Michigan weather. Thank goodness it didn’t snow…this weekend at least.
DJ Mykel "MrMakeYouDance” provided the sounds for both Friday and Saturday night. Men and women came dressed to impress themselves in their "come as you are” outfits. So you had some people looking as though they were about to do yard work and some people who looked as though they had just attended a wedding. I guess it works. At this time, I want to shine the spotlight on four of Detroit’s class of 2014 steppers. Remember these names, Kisha Nabors, Amanda Anderson, Tim McGray and Melvin Munningham. They are hungry, competitive and are pulling out all of the stops with this dance…stay tuned! Also, Darby "Mr. Debonair” Settles your walkin’ game has officially been activated and is set to win!
A historical moment in the evening occurred when Sherry Gordon acknowledged Chicago’s Larry Thomas and Kim Thomas for
their contributions in establishing steppin in Detroit back in the late 90s. In other words, no Larry Thomas…no Detroit steppin. Larry has always rocked some interesting suit colors with his Chicago Westside gear while Kim stepped in four inch heels never missing a spin and gliding like silk across the floor. When it comes to smoothness and style…Kim Thomas is a force to be reckoned with!
Also new this year was the addition of Chicago steppin pioneer… Jannice Robertson. For those of you who don’t know, I had the pleasure of taking part in an interview with Jannice about 7 years ago when I was hanging out at Chistepper.
For lack of a better term, Jannice does the "JB” (James Brown) style of steppin. This is the quick "shuffle, shuffle,shuffle…slide…slide” that you may have seen her doing this weekend with various people. Although it appears to not have a set pattern…it does… but it is totally instinctive in its execution. Chicago reveres Jannice because since 1977 she helped to elevate the steppin game with Little Alfred, Ice Ray, Ya hir Israel, Ice Rob, Donnie Davis and a host of others from the Chi. When you talk about the living legends of steppin…Jannice Robertson leads the pack.
When steppin came to Detroit, original style and new skool steppin was the focus for instruction. Walkin was not in demand like it is now but most assuredly, "JB ing” was nowhere on the list because it is the most intricate of all of the steppin dances. You have to have the energy, the timing and the ability to execute the dance with another person. Detroit instructors…get ready…people are going to want to learn this form of steppin.
Saturday’s Firewater steppers set did not have the contestants for the Grab Bag contest and I’m not sure why. Being in a room where there is so much talent packed into it would intimidate most anyone…I guess. Hopefully, DJ Rockin Rodney Mack can revisit the Grab Bag contest idea during his Thursday night White Party in June.
Saturday night let us see Michelle Mason "DJ Butta” making a guest appearance at the DJ station with Mykel. Michelle has such a lovely spirit and disposition and I want us to all continue to uplift Michelle in our prayers for her to continue to stay that way.
By the way, Detroit’s Keesha Anderson had on one of the baddest dresses of the evening. Chicago’s Dana-White Scott was also representing the fashion dial too. As always, Maurice "Reece” Thomas created fashion moments as well.
I stayed until the very end of the set and almost got out the door but Lynne "Ms. Chessecake” Batten’s desserts were tempting me like Eve with the apple. That Red Velvet flavor is going to keep me on the wrong side of the scale.
Sunday’s brunch hosted by Friends United was on point. There was a lot of food (burp), music and dancing. A highlight for me was when I saw Drew Alexander, "The Phenom,” do a Walkin Trio which I had never seen anyone do before…anywhere. This young man is an endless array of creativity and flawless executions of combinations. I also want to recognize Detroit’s "The Dark Knight”, Ed Donaldson.
If there are 60 minutes in an hour and four minute songs being played, that’s 15 dances an hour. I never saw Ed sit down during the last three days. While he is not the only man that does this, I can attest that he continuously gives of himself 100% while he dances with each and every lady that gets to him and that he gets to.
Never one to be at a loss for nicknames and concept names, I have created my new phrase for the month. Perimeter People.
There are two kinds of Perimeter People. The first kind of Perimeter People are the couples that dance close to the edge of the floors so they can gauge their lines, spins and spacing better. It’s a great place to dance so as not to get caught in the middle of the floor where couples tend to drift, constantly bump into you and change the grain of the dance pattern. You know…the ones that will come on the dance floor and everyone is dancing in a north/south direction and they get on there and do an east/west direction.
The second kind of Perimeter People are the ones like I saw Friday and Saturday night. They might as well be wearing t-shirts that say, "LOOK AT ME! I NEED ATTENTION!” I saw six separate incidents of couples being bullied out of their positions by overly aggressive perimeter people who refuse to dance anywhere else except by the bars. Maybe Jeff can start a line of shirts for these people that say, "I Love Steppin so much…I’ll knock you out the way!”
Stay tuned. On Wednesday I am submitting a commentary called "Slaves to the Rhythm” on I Love Steppin. It will explore the belief system of…well…just stay tuned. It will not disappoint.
In the house (Oh boy…I hate this part because I can’t name everyone) Cleveland’s Greg Rashid, Kendra Willis, Jamal Brown, Kelli Harris, Darlene Mans, Karen Ware, Qiana Wilson, The Steady Steppers, Detroit’s Golden Couple Ira and Gail Blakely, Miles Adolph, Tyrone "The Godfather” Bradley, Bonita Williams, Amanda Anderson, Niecy Johnson, Mary Canty, Gina Ellis, The Big Hat Gentlemen, Ann Hunter, Richard Cochran, Steven Johnson, Denise Mack, Atlanta’s Cheryl Powe, Rebecca "Becky”Atkinson, the I Love Steppin Crew, Nicolle Holsey, Deborah "Party People” Dixon, Rose McDaniel, DJ K-Mix Kirk Peterson, and Stan Brooks (Laughing). Also, I want to hug through this review Debbie Rhodes and Marshawn Hubbard for their never ending encouraging words.
Until we all meet again at DJ Rockin Rodney Mack’s White Party, June 12-16…continue to educate your steppin!