It was a dance party. It was a family reunion. It was a nod to days gone past. Mostly, Saturday’s 25th Long Beach Step Show was a celebration of the largest performance of its kind on the West Coast.
The Step Show was held for the first time at Long Beach State after a two-year absence. The event previously had been canceled because of a lack of participation. That, however, was not the case Sunday.
Roughly 3,500 participants, family members, old and current fraternity and sorority members from around the country and a couple of celebrities took over the Pyramid for five hours and danced, competed and reunited as music blared from the stage.
Theme for this year’s Step Show was a nod to the 1990s and members of the Fraternities & Sororities of the Divine 9 incorporated snippets of MC Hammer, boomboxes, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Nintendo in their performances.
Tremayne Noles, of Alpha Phi Alpha, has competed in the Long Beach Step Show six times and said he hopes this year’s turnout is a positive sign for the future of the event.
“Today was about taking it back to old school,” Noles said. “This is a different generation, where stepping has evolved, with technology and music. However, in the ‘90s, it was based on simplicity and everyone wore windbreakers and boots.
“We are the music. In step dancing, you create the beat without music.”
Although music played during each of the performances, the dancers relied on the rhythm of their steps, hands and props to tell stories. Noles and his troop were decked out in fatigues and gold boots during their Army-inspired performance that garnered Alpha Phi Alpha top honors.
Another group wore Super Mario costumes and stomped and danced through an improvised video game, and
“Step is what makes the music,” said Nikki Turner, 23, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha. “It creates a beat and that’s the music.”
The fun wasn’t just in the show, which was hosted by Nate Jackson. Multi-platinum recording artist Montel Jordan, who gained fame with his song, “This Is How We Do It,” performed.
During breaks, spectators and Greek members danced in the stands, in the aisles near the VIP seats on the floor. DJ Mr. Quick provided the music.
Long Beach Step Show, founded by the Black Greeks of the Long Beach State chapter of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, is one of the largest student-produced step shows in the western United States. Competitors traveled form Nevada, Arizona, Washington and New York to help raise scholarship funds for historically underrepresented students.
Additional proceeds will go to funding leadership training and community service projects.