Steppin Back to Step Forward with “Lil Lloyd” Johnson Back
Apr 15, 2015
By Tracey Bivens
“It started out with the music and the style of Original Style steppin. Being from Chicago, I always knew what Original Style steppin was because I was seeing it everywhere. But I told myself that one day…I was gonna be good at it!” ~ Lil Lloyd Johnson
Lloyd Johnson has the look of someone who you may see helping an old lady across the street or someone who you might see coaching a little league baseball team. He’s very quiet, slender and cute with these piercing dark brown eyes. He’s not someone that you would think at age 32, would have the Chicago Old School heavy hitters and street pimps giving him ultimate props for sticking with the roots of Original Style steppin. I didn’t think that I would meet any young men who would be interested in anything other than New Skool spins and endless combinations but in speaking with the 2009 Worlds Largest Beginners Category participant ,Lloyd Johnson…I did.
Tracey: So I saw you for the first time at Jeff Clark’s I Love Steppin 7th Anniversary party this past weekend. You were steppin with Jannice Robertson and I heard Ed Donaldson in the background giving you much props at what you were doing in the video footage (see facebook link below) as you and she were dancing. Let me tell you…Ed does not give it up like that very often. Then you danced with Sherry Gordon and it was like all eyes were on you two for five minutes and the rest of the dance floor didn’t exist!
Lloyd: I appreciate that. Yeah…I took a personal interest in the dance in 2006 but actually came out in 2008 trying to learn the Original Style after watching Kim Bowie, Lorenzo “Cole” Coleman and Ty Skippy. I was like, “Okay…I gotta get this.”
Tracey: So being in the younger generation of steppers…you didn’t take an interest in learning the New Skool style that Tyk and Dre ushered in?
Lloyd: The New Skool style doesn’t have a balance of the hands and feet like Original Style does. A lot of the combinations and spins that the New Skool steppers do… look the same to me. When Original Style steppers step…they combine both the hands and the feet and make it look crispy at the same time. Calvin “Taboo” Jarrett told me the dance is all about those hands and feet on Madison and California. I’ll never forget that. His statement resonated with me and that’s when the dance started to make sense.
Tracey: Are you currently one of the youngest guys on the steppin scene in Chicago?
Lloyd: I was the youngest on the scene… period… for a while. Shawn Bandy came after me. I like to think I’m at the New Skool age but an Original Old School dancer. That’s what the Old Schoolers say about me. (Laughing) I will say this. Tyk Myn is a great dancer and earned his credibility on the dance floor when he started out young like I did. He was robbed from winning contests just like I was back in 2012 in the Chicago’s Largest. That’s the part about steppin I don’t like cause it’s messy.
Tracey: What do you mean?
Lloyd: My first dance partner and I, Vonda Hamilton, got down that night but Steppin Luther gave it to Royce. They claimed it was a mis-count but we were the projected winners. However, Steppin Luther and his wife came back later and said we were the REAL winners but me and my partner needed to hear that stated on that night in front of everybody that was there watching. And if anybody reads this interview and has a discrepancy with what I’m saying…they can meet me on the dance floor. After that incident, I decided I never wanted to get into the rhythm of competing every year. I don’t want to be known as a contest dancer. There is a nice Man on Man footage of me and Nikee on You Tube that I’m proud of. (Laughing)
Tracey: What kind of music moves you because your age group is heavy into that Hip Hop and Rap?
Lloyd: Music from the 70s moves me. I love getting down with “Life in the Country” by The Ebonys and “Body Talk” by Eddie Kendricks. I watch DJ Markey G’s “Return of the Dungeon” all the time. I stay inspired. If you feel the music…it’s easier to dance to it. If I’m driving and I hear a song I like, I can dance while I’m driving. (Laughing) It’s nothing for me to create moves like that. I grew up listening to the good music that my uncles listened to when I would play their albums.
Tracey: People say that true steppers look, dance and dress the part at all times. Is that true?
Lloyd: You can come as you are to a steppers set. In Chicago, you can step seven days a week…literally. Some people come from work in their uniforms to get it in. I done seen Jannice wear pajamas to a set before. It ain’t what you wear, it’s how you wear it.
Tracey: Do you think it’s necessary to dance seven days a week to be a great stepper?
Lloyd: This generation of steppers is different. The Old Schoolers started out as preteens and teenagers. The dance came back up years later and that’s when things started to change in the dance. My generation was into “house” music and “Juking” so you don’t see a lot of people my age into steppin because they are living life and doing what they have to do. You do have people that dance everyday but I punch a clock. But as far as practicing…it’s nothing to grab a door or refrigerator and dance!
Tracey: When you look at the Out of Towners step…what do you see?
Lloyd: Detroit is hungry and thirsty. If Chicago don’t watch out…they gonna be in trouble. Detroit got tired of counting and said they wanted to learn the original style of the dance and you can see that. But to be honest…I can’t tell the difference between the out of towners and a lot of the New Skool Chicago steppers because everybody looks alike.
Tracey: Whose fault do you think it is that the dance has become routine looking and predictable?
Lloyd: (Pauses) Well… you can’t blame the Old Schoolers because they are not the ones that went from city to city teaching everybody how to count and do the same thing. You got people putting Salsa and Ballrooming in this dance and that ain’t steppin to me. The instructors should be more responsible in what they are teaching. I was never taught by anybody. I don’t do math on the dance floor. Nobody can claim me. I watched people but I incorporated what I’ve learned on my own.
Tracey: Would you try to teach what you know to other people?
Lloyd: Tracey…I’m not a teacher. I wouldn’t know where to begin. To me…the dance should be fresh every time you step onto the floor. However…I will dance with anybody if that’s what they want. I’m not trying to personally take money from people and I know I’m not qualified to teach. I like traveling, meeting people and building relationships.
Tracey: That’s the first time I’ve ever heard anyone admit to that before in all the years I’ve been doing these interviews. I respect that. Okay…what do the readers really need to know?
Lloyd: I want all these steppers from Chicago to stop acting brand new telling the out of towners not to go to the East of the Ryan. That’s the only place you are going to truly see Original Style steppin. A lot of these same people that’s tellin people not to go…grew up five minutes from there. Stop it. I wish 939 N. Pulaski was still open with DJ Master G. People don’t know what they missing. There are so many great steppers who have not stepped foot on the World’s Largest stage. That contest does not make you a great stepper it makes you a popular stepper but if people always saying the contest is fixed…..then what does that say about the winners? I’m just thankful that the Old School embraced me. God blessed me with this talent and I’m trying to have fun with this dance. I can’t do nothing but smile about it all.