Rockin Rodney Mack’s 11th White Party Weekend Review Back
Jun 16, 2014
By Tracey Bivens
It’s Wednesday night and the steppers have crowded intot Bobby Green’s Steppers Café already. I can sense all of the excitement building for the upcoming weekend festivities.. The Mack man has already put the Angels to work folding pamphlets and mapping directions. It seems like an endless array of questions that people have about the event. There are steppers here from Los Angeles, Baltimore, Toledo, Las Vegas, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee…I think it’s about to be thick this weekend.
Thursday, June 12
Many guests have started arriving for the Thursday, pre…pre..whatever…party. DJ Steppin E Emile Tankersley is holding down the fort while steppers start in on the wood. What? The floor is coming apart and the air is off. Here we go. I knew when the party came back to the Adoba (formerly the Hyatt) that there were going to be some unnecessary surprises. Uh..uh…the Rodster is walking around looking frustrated. It must be because people keep coming up to him complaining about EVERYTHING again. "I forgot my ticket,” "My mama got my ticket,” The dog ate my ticket,” "I forgot my ‘Let me in free because I’m important ticket.’”Come on people…we can all come together under this roof and have a good time this year without any foolishness…can’t we?
Friday, June 13
What? It’s 5:00pm and these people don’t want to leave the Rotunda. You got to folks…the set starts in 3 hours.
After I got ready, I walked past the long line of women and men with infrared smoke coming out of their nostrils…I was a little taken aback. Well, low and behold, the tickets they were holding said the doors would open at 8:00pm but the plan was to open them at 9:00pm. Where’s Rodney? Shouts out to the school teacher crew Gerri Pitts, Ms. Ingrid, Joyce Louie and Barbara Washington for keeping everybody calm. (Laughing)
Did I just hear what I heard? One of the Angels just told me that an instructor who was asked to be an escort but refused to be one once he got into the party because he said he didn’t want to. Now the deal with being an escort is that it’s a professional courtesy extended with free entry provided you dance with so many women…and believe me people watch out for that stuff. However, this individual disagreed with what he initially agreed to. Sad.
Time for the World’s Largest sign ‘em in…I mean pre-lims. Four very brave couples went on the dance floor while Peter Frazier told us…(okay readers everybody at the same time) "If ya like what you see…show ‘em some love,” (cue the clapping). Maurice "Reece” Thomas and Ann Hunter woke anyone who was dozing in the Adoba ballroom up. The entertainment value of watching these two perform is priceless.
I saw my old boss Terrance Pratt, Chistepper.com tonight and I let his butt have it on the dance floor. (Laughing)
Well..I guess I can go home now that the party is almost over…uh oh…here comes four ladies walking up to me. "Tracey…I read your last review from the I Love Steppin weekend and I did what you said…you know…the part about buying the guy who is sweating a lot, something to drink? Well…I did and he danced with me on the next song!” Woman number two says laughing, "I bought the man that I wanted to dance with a CD and got my dance.” Well the third woman, who was from LA said, "I gave the guys I wanted to dance with my phone number…shoot…I ain’t spending no money for a dance.” Well…I’m assuming the third lady was more interested in doing a horizontal dance as opposed to the vertical dance in steppin.
Saturday, June 14
My feet are hurting. I’m beginning to realize that as we steppers get older, things that didn’t bother us as much before are starting to bother us now. By the way, these steppers better stop steppin in these gym shoes and flat mules. They will tear your knees and feet up!
The workshops of today have diminished in attendance since the days of old. I guess that can be attributed to this. As the nation grows in steppin, so do the individual cities with their own instructors. I am not an advocate of the workshops anymore. In the early days…I saw the necessity because we were in the infancy stages of steppin. Now a days…I’m an advocate for privates. When it comes to basic and intermediate instruction, however, I totally endorse Sherry Gordon and "The Black Knight” Edward Donaldson from Detroit, to be invited to any city to provide your students with a strong foundation in the dance. They can articulate the concepts, have you apply what you’ve learned and they have the people skills to set you on the right track…no fluff or BS. They will even dance with you at the sets just to make sure you are comfortable with what you’ve learned. I wish all the instructors did this.
I’m really upset about the complaints received from one of the workshop attendees in which the instructor did not allow the students to practice what they learned during class. Apparently, it was taught like a college lecture based class and the attendees were told if they had any more questions that they could stay after class and pay $40 or $75 for privates. What? Don’t get me started on that foolishness y'all. I’ll save that for another time.
Hey...there’s Mello Khris and his wife Yolanda. I think I’m going to sit down and kick it with them. I went into my reporter mode as usual and was very surprised to find out from Khris that steppin DJs across the country are still NOT following the format for what he considers playing a true steppers set. The NUMBER ONE complaint from the mouths of people that come to Khris and Khris agrees is that too much mixing is being done in a set. Khris said he has addressed this at least 12 times but apparently DJs have developed a love affair with the "Virtual DJ” system that blends song after song together making a couple stay out on the floor for almost 10 minutes at a time. Khris said that there are only two things that he attributes to his success…well three. "I know how to read my steppers. If I have a crowd that is filled with people over 40…I’m playing my classics, I’m creating while I’m up there with my bag of tricks and I’m not blending my songs together. If I was to close my eyes right now and listen to a room full of steppers DJs…I guarantee that unless they have a tag line that introduces them….I can’t tell who is who. A lot of DJs want to keep dropping songs that steppers don’t recognize. You can’t do that and call yourself being true to THIS game.” Khris is right. I have to admit it. I can be at a steppers set for 10 minutes blindfolded and I can tell if Mello Khris is playing. But a lot of other DJs…not so much.
The Saturday afternoon set featured lot of legs in shorts that passed me by on the way to the short sets and pretty legs contest. Not sure who won but I can say DJ Toney out of Miami did represent the music well as well as DJ George.
Saturday Night "The White Party”
One good reason Rodney was stressed is because he sold more tickets than seats this evening. Because he is an engineer by trade…he was trying to work out the logistics in his head. Luckily…people were so stuffed from the buffet that was served, the babyfaced T. L. Williams mini concert (I thought he would be taller and uh…older) and the salute to DJ Stepping Wallace Holloway
from Chicago, Il who had his bags packed to come to Detroit but passed days before leaving. I danced with him many times. He was a good guy.
I almost made it out the door but I saw that doggone Lynne "Ms. Cheescake” Batten at the door with those red velvet gold mines and I had to get one. Her cheesecakes are not trying to be friends with anyone’s waistline.
The after party starts in half an hour….I sent my junior reporter in my place. My feet were arguing with my knees and I was just too tired to do any more steppin.
Sunday, June 15
I got to the After Party at 8:00pm and yup…150 people followed me apparently because that set was by far the best opportunity for women to step with men. I probably danced 25 times before I left. Then again, I have always felt that the after glow is the best part because of its intimate setting. Comedian DJ Mykel "Shorty Smooth” and DJ K-Mix tagged team for the evening with DJ Pierre from Las Vegas closing out.
Inquiring Minds Want to Know
1. Why do DJs stand behind the main DJ that’s playing for the night when they are not scheduled to play.
2. Why were women wearing white tops that showcased their areolas Saturday night?
3. Why was Maurice "Reece” Thomas the sharpest cat in the place on Saturday night?
1. Rodney Mack will feed his guests…to death. You show me another mega set that feeds people the way Rodney does at his events.
2. Steppers from all over the country attend the White Party faithfully. This year’s grand total was 2,300 attendees.
3.Giving everyone an opportunity to shine at the White Party i.e. different DJs, vendors, workshop instructors, etc.
Lessons to Learn
1. Let’s start all events on time and hey…let’s make sure the time on the ticket matches the time on the marquis.
2. Rodney Mack has to delegate…delegate...delegate. He admits he likes to micro manage and control everything but one man…does not a White Party successfully make.
3. Rodney, please recognize that you do not have to pay for other people’s entertainment.
I want to thank Patricia Evans from Chicago (old school for life) who sat with me and told me that she wishes the new generation of steppers would have learned original style steppin first before new skool. She thinks the energy involved with new skool will wear steppers out in the long run. Thank you Neicy Johnson for being a pioneer in the Detroit steppin community and providing a platform for the steppers to be aware of breast cancer through your "2014Taking Our Lives Back” calendar.
Please show your support for this calendar and this sistah. Hugs and kisses to the "First Lady” Linda Morales Frazier for stylin and profilin, Mr. David Hemphill Jr.(Dallas) for bringing that southern charm to Detroit.
In the house were Detroit’s Golden Couple Ira and Gail Blakely, Nikisha "Starburst” Nabors, Popeye (Toledo), Larry Collins, Kevin Collins, Kendra Willis (Cleveland), welcome back Jennifer Toles (Akron), the karaoke queen Erika Little (Raleigh), Karen Ware, Darby "Mr. Debonair” Settles, LA Chase, Ngina James, Titania Jordan and Vashon Collins, Vet Ann, The Big Hat Gentlemen, Gregory Richardson, James Pacely, Nikee and Tori, Stoney and Toni, Miami Steve, Tina Moore, and Versatile Productions.
Say what you want about the White Party. Rodney Mack keeps it going every year because of your never ending support. This self-proclaimed pimp (wink) has a heart of gold and will probably curse me out when I inform you that financially supports several local charities and this Kappa Alpha Psi guy is a staunch supporter of the United Negro College Fund. He is the only African-American lead engineer for his corporation and he has a slew of friends that have supported his small scale sets in Detroit for more than 10 years now…even when people told him to give up.