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History of Stepping

A form of Hand Dancing:



Chicago-Style Stepping, (also known as Chi Town Steppin' or Steppin') is an urban dance that originated in Chicago, and continues to evolve, defining its unique style and culture, within the context of mainstream Swing dance. Chicago-Style Stepping has gained popularity, particularly, but not limited to, the urban neighborhoods of America. "Chicago-Style Stepping" makes reference to other urban styles of dance found throughout the United States larger enclaves in cities such as Detroit, Cleveland, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.


In these and other cities one will find very similar customs and cultures accenting local dance movements that are very similar to movements of the Lindy Hop, West Coast Swing,Jitterbug and the Shag, just to name a few. Each city bears its own name such as the Hustle or Swingout. Although unique to its own style, customs and accents the basic structure involves the movement of triple-steps, rock-steps and anchors, with the leader and follower synchronizing their steps in a complementary manner. Ballrooming (Ballroomin') and Bop are popular in Detroit and Cleveland; while Hand Dance is poular in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore; Texas Swingout (Swingout or Swing2Step) is popular in Texas (Dallas,Houston, Austin, and San Antonio); Two Step is popular in Kansas City, Missouri; and West Coast Swing is popular in the major cities along the West Coast of the United States(Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, and Tacoma) Urban forms of line dance which is popular in all the major cities in America trace their roots into Chicago-Style Steppin. Chicago-Style Stepping is very popular in other major cities such as Atlanta, Miami, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Denver, Tulsa,Raleigh, Cincinnati, Memphis, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Columbus, Nashville, Pittsburg, Charlotte, Louisville, Omaha, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Boston. In many of the major cities in America, there are different "Steppers" clubs or organizations who will have dance classes on a weekly basis as well as citywide events that will include Steppers from nearby major cities.


Steppin’ is danced with a lane or slot. Take inconsideration the term “Bop” was used to describe the dance form by Chicagoans until the early 1970’s. Prior to that time “Bop” was the known term and its origin in began sometime between 1945 & 50 to express music and dance. The dance known as Chicago Steppin’ was Bop and is more likely a derivative of Jitterbug. No published syllabuses exist for the dance.


Chicago-Style Stepping gained a real foothold when a local radio station, WVAZ (102.7FM/1390AM), started playing two particular records by artist Jeffree, "Love's Gonna Last", and "Mr. Fix-It" in the mid to late 1970's. Neither song was a major Billboard R&B chart hit ("Mr. Fix-It" made it to number 53, "Love's Gonna Last" didn't chart), but they perfectly complemented the newest version of Chicago-Style Stepping. In a classic case of a dance making a record a (local) hit, due to the massive request and playing of "Love's Gonna Last" on WBMX, it is now considered the ultimate Chicago-Style Steppers cut. William DeVaughn's classic, "Be Thankful for What You Got," was also a ground-breaking cut for Chicago-Style Stepping. More common is R. Kelly's "Step in the Name of Love", "Step in the Name of Love Remix", and "Happy People" which all popularized the dance in the mid 2000s. The TV show The Soul Man, as well as the movies Love Jones and Beauty Shop have also featured scenes of Chicago-Style Stepping.


Today we still dance to some of the original cuts, as well as, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Raheem DeVaughn, Portrait, Will Downing, The Whispers, Glenn Jones, Chante Moore, Anthony David, Ledisi, Anthony Hamilton, Carmichael and the list goes on of Mainstream music. Today Chicago Style Steppin is very popular and is taught with either the 6 count or the 8 count, you will be taking 8 steps regardless to which count method is used.

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