Tuesday, February 23, 2010

#298. Being Out-Stepped

Black people are routinely pegged as the preeminent dancers on the planet, for their incredible rhythmical skills are constantly on display through film, television and well, this.

Movies such as Save the Last Dance illustrate this point, as a naive white girl finds the dancing ability of Black people to the push she needs to excel at ballet.

Dancing though, as historically known in the Western tradition, is of little to no use to Black people and they find acceptable dancing constricting and unacceptable to their cultural norms. Black people excel in originality when it comes to dancing and have created a form of dancing that's authentically Black - stepping:

Stepping or step-dancing is a form of percussive dance in which the participant's entire body is used as an instrument to produce complex rhythms and sounds through a mixture of footsteps, spoken word, and hand claps. Though stepping may be performed by an individual, it is generally performed by groups of three or more, often in arrangements that resemble military formations.

Stepping may also draw from elements of gymnastics, tap dance, march, or African and Caribbean dance, or include semi-dangerous stunts as a part of individual routines. Some forms of stepping include the use of props, such as canes, rhythm sticks and/or fire and blindfolds.

The tradition of African American stepping is rooted within the competitive schoolyard song and dance rituals practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities, beginning in the mid-1900s.
If you have attended a major university that has even 10 Black people enrolled there, then chances are you have been regaled with a "step-show" before. Black people, especially Black fraternities, partake in stepping as a ritualistic exercise that has roots in Africa.

The uniformity displayed by step-team members in the choreographed clapping, stepping and dancing routine is a sight to behold and chanting that takes the form of ululations is but an added bonus in any stepping display.

But the cross-over appeal of stepping is an unavoidable reality that must know be discussed, for films such as Stomp the Yard and the MTV show America's Best Dance Crew have broadcast a formerly all-Black activity to the entire country, which have had the destabilizing effect of integrating the team dance activity.

Remember: anything that is all-white must be integrated, yet anything that is all-Black must be preserved in an all-out effort to maintain the street cred of that activity. Daring to integrate an all-Black activity is an exercise in futility, yet daring to integrate is an endeavor that is greeted with congratulatory and laudatory language.

Stepping is a Black thing, an opportunity to "keep it real" and is an authentically Black exercise in dancing that no white person would dare emulate until now:

Stepping, which is deeply rooted in the tradition of historically Black Fraternities, has moved into the mainstream. At the Sprite Step Off, a traditionally white sorority with all white members, Zeta Tau Alpha won the $100,000 prize. Bossip was in the audience and they agreed that Zeta Tau Alpha “brought it.”

This can be considered of another example of how Black culture becomes mainstream and becomes appropriated by Caucasian people and becomes a greater part of American culture as a whole.

This upset victory by white girls daring to integrate an all-Black activity has sent shock waves through the stepping community everywhere:

On Saturday, I accompanied AG Entertainment’s Alex Gidewon to the Sprite Step Off Challenge at the Civic Center. The best part of the evening for me was the car ride there and back. We pulled up to the Civic Center in a CL65 AMG with a turbocharged V12 engine that reached top speeds in 6 seconds. The car took my breath away. All I can say is I want one!

Anyway, step show host Ryan Cameron (WVEE) said “Steppin’ is for erybody.” Well, it’s not for me. I was bored out of my skull for the 50+ minutes that we were there. Back in my college days, steppin’ was an entirely different art form than what you see today. Now it’s more lights, cameras and action than fancy footwork mixed with military precision.

So is it any wonder that an all white girl crew from Arkansas took 1st place in the majority black competition? The women from Zeta Tau Alpha’s Epsilon chapter electrified the crowd with a dazzling step routine that clocked in at just under 9 minutes. They won cash scholarships and other prizes. MTV2 will air the step show at 3 pm on February 28 and March 7.

Stepping, an authentically Black activity that once was reserved for only Black people to practice discipline in rhythmic movement, while simultaneously clapping their hands in unison, has now been infiltrated to a point where a team of white girls from Arkansas could usurp the Sprite Step-Off Challenge 2010 title and supplant all Black teams beneath perfectly choreographed routine.

This loss is being taken hard by Black people and stepping-purists everywhere, as step-hardliners view this as a direct assault against their authentically African tradition.

Stuff Black People Don't Like includes being out-stepped, for there is absolutely nothing sacred anymore if a bunch of white girls from Arkansas can out-step Black people and claim the Sprite Step-Off Challenge.

Stepping has been integrated, which makes its no longer indigenous to the Black community and no longer an activity that can be deemed exclusively and authentically Black. Stepping has been polluted with the stain of whiteness and can no longer be deemed a "keeping it real" activity, although it did offer an interesting, intimate look at Black culture when it was an 100 percent Black enterprise.


Anonymous said...

Sorry those White girls won...Maybe black folk can one up them and launch a Mars mission.

Anonymous said...

ululations? I had to look it up.

a long, wavering, high-pitched sound resembling the howl of a dog or wolf with a trilling quality. It is produced by emitting a high pitched loud voice accompanied with a rapid movement of the tongue and the uvula.[1] The term ululation is an onomatopoeic word derived from Latin. It is produced by moving the tongue, rapidly, from left to right repetitively in the mouth while producing a sharp sound.

Steve said...

Wow lucky us.....

Anonymous said...

I had my introduction to stepping back in the early 90's when a black fraternity or sorority ( can't recall which ) decided to practice their routine in the apartment above the one in which I was living.

Given that the practice session started at about 10:30 pm,and given that I had to wake up at 4:30 am to go to work the next day,I was less than thrilled by my exposure to authentic African American culture. Yes,I requested-politely-that the noise level be reduced. The response was a long,drawn out explanation of what was being done,and why it was so important,etc.

Turned out that my suggestion of moving their practice out to the parking lot had already been tried,and other irate residents had induced them to move indoors. To give credit where due,the stomping stopped,although the clapping and ululations went on until I finally crashed due to exhaustion.

B Herder said...

Those ZTA girls were just .... Freekin' awesome.
Those DST girls were .. Mmmmm... Good. I guess. Maybe they'd of done a LOT better if most of them had laid off the Popeyes for a year or two. Kinda' hard to move when your ass is as big as a 57' Buick.

Anonymous said...

It was sponsored by Sprite. This was a corporate event.

There are a few people that wish to "mainstream" these events. The reason is not "political correctness" or "white guilt". The true and only motive is money.

Despite your friend Barry the half breed's lies. This is a capitalist nation.

-Black guy

Anonymous said...

You'll never beat THIS 'black man' in stepping;

:) Live Free Or Die

Catonaroof said...

Ever hear of Irish Step Dancing??? It's been around since pre-Christian Ireland. Looks like another black rip-off of a white creation. No wonder the white chicks won.

Moi said...

Why did the ZTA girls win?

Anonymous said...


Yeah, it's exactly like Irish step dancing. LOL!!

-Black guy

Stuff Black People Don't Like said...


Already did an entry on Lord of the Dance and Irish Dancing.

Fun to compare to the two styles.

I have no problem with stepping. It is an authentic expression of Blackness.

Catonaroof said...

Black G., No, it is NOT exactly like Irish Step Dancing - it is a black copy of the basic white concept - and, as with all black wannabees, does not even come close to the beauty of the original.

Anonymous said...

I wish that you people would just come out and say that you don't like black people. Why all the pretense? It's not because of the way they speak or the way they dance or any REAL reason . .. you don't like black people because they are different from you

Mark said...

Like most black "inventions", they take something white and alter it, then call it theirs.

It's funny, because if you go to the Sprite website for the event, it's 100% black.

That sorority isn't 100% white either, and 1 or 2 of the girls in that group look mixed or Hispanic.

Anonymous said...

After the complaints the judges rescored the competition and, surprise, found a scoring error. They announced the competition was actually a tie, elevating the black second place winners to share first place.

Anonymous said...

"After the complaints the judges rescored the competition and, surprise, found a scoring error. They announced the competition was actually a tie, elevating the black second place winners to share first place."

It's called "Affirmative Action." It cheapens Black people by saying they cannot get ahead without someone - the government or in this case Coca-Cola - helping them.

If the women of the Tau Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha (Indiana University) had any self-respect, they would have turned down the "co-championship" and said they will do it again next year and earned it without question to settle the controversy.

But instead, they took what "the man" gave them and called it a victory.

How sad and pathetic...

Anonymous said...

Cantaproof has been brainwashed by schoolhouse history books and the mainstream to think that blacks "rip off" from whites