Friday, November 20, 2009

Black Greek Homecoming Step Show

The Greek Homecoming step show was on October 9, 2009. Stepping is a form of song and dance that originated in college quads by historically black fraternities. It involves stomping and clapping creating rhythmic beats while reciting short rhymes to heighten and identify the particular group. Multiple participants congregate in a decided formation. The groups begin with one stepper starting the particular sequence of step.

Stepping began with all male a Capella groups. Some examples are The Temptations and The Four Tops who gained popularity in the 50’s the fraternity brothers began copying their steps. The Brothers would try to choreograph the most creative steps while aiming to please women. Some may say that stepping replaced the doo wop sounds and formal/polite clothing of the 50's. Stepping climaxed during the “Black Power” movement and the “Voyage” back to Africa movement. The Fraternities soon began incorporating African ritual dancing. African’s used this dancing during “coming out”/”coming of age” ceremonies. They went on to incorporate gymnastics and even cheerleading.

This event was held at the Student Activities Building (SAB.) The stage was brightly lit while the audience seating area was completely dark. All of the seats were taken so I stood in the back for a while and examined the people around me. There were only minorities there. Everyone was attentive and it seemed like everyone had high expectations because if a stepped messed up, the crowd as a whole would start whispering to one another. I also noticed that within the crowd, the women sat in their social group of other black women, and the men sat in groups of black men. I feel like this makes a statement that they have a strong group mentality and they hold a bond, just as the Fraternities/Sororities they came to watch and celebrate. Almost everyone had business casual attire in respect for this traditional event.

Surprisingly, there was an Asian Sorority that stepped. They performed very well and made each move their own. The crowd cheered with amazement and appreciation that they chose to come and perform something that was historically a “black” activity. They were not looked upon as pretending to be black. This event proved that race is something that should not be valued. They took a part in the culture and tradition. After all, “race is a social construction based on biological distinction.”

I went to the event expecting the same shows I saw throughout high school. I was a part of a Step Team in the tenth grade, so I had an idea of what it would be like. But instead of family members and schoolmates cheering on the steppers, it was their peers and older fraternity brothers and sorority sisters who held the expectations for the performance. Although the crowd was forgiving, the steppers I spoke to revealed that they felt extremely pressured because they had to prove themselves and make sure they upheld the reputation of their graduated Sisters and Brothers. The steppers at this show were very creative. They prepared skits where they acted out the other fraternities/sororities and down-played their organizations. This is traditionally done and no one gets offended. They respect each others' competitive spirits which pushes each group to get more creative the next time around. When they performed impressive steps, the crowd would yell out things such as “Go ahead”, “You better do that” and “Alright, Alright, I see you.” In the end Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated took home the first place titles.

No comments: