[9/11/2013 The West Coast Report]
Why Shades of Green? By Samuel L. Parker, Sr.
Have you noticed that there are several national Steppin' events that include the words "Shades of" as part of the Event Title/Theme. I began wondering, "Why?", as we made our trek across the Mohave Desert floor, enroute to the Las Vegas, to attend the Annual Shades of Green event, in North Las Vegas, NV.
During our trip, we observed the typical "brown colors" of the desert and several other landmarks along the way (i.e. Historical Highway Route 66, Zzyzx Road, and the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility near Primm, Nevada.) that don't seem to be related to Steppin'. However, we do know that Old Route 66 (as Nat King Cole sang it, "...get your kicks on Route 66...") features a "Chicago-Los Angeles" connection that starts on Lakeshore Drive in Chicago, goes thru St. Louis, MO, and 6 other states, before it ends at the top of the cliffs on Ocean Avenue (Santa Monica) overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles, CA. But, again, "Why 'Shades of Green'?"
Driving thru the Mohave Desert (which includes "Death Valley") doesn't tend to inspire thoughts about anything "Green" - so I asked DJ, Promoter, and CEO of Godcore Productions, Adrian Khalid King, "Why Shades of Green"? His answers expose the fact that "Steppin in Shades of Green" is an event that is inextricably bound to concerns about the growth and improvement of a Steppin' community.
Why "Shades of Green"? Promoter Khalid King states that it's because "the color green represents transformation, unity, and growth." He went on to explain that his organization has a core philosophy/belief that "there is a power in the core of every human being and that thru a "worship" (of sorts), you can become successful at a pure and faster pace." Consequently, the organization puts an emphasis on spirituality into their dance promotions and their music. Khalid King went on to explain that he seeks to insure that his events and productions carry a good spirit AND creates a good spirit among his guests.
During a Sunday morning "hotel lobby" interview about the event, I learned a lot more about him and his concerns about the dance and his community. It doesn't take long before you get to understand that Mr. King is a man with a mission that extends beyond his individual experience. He began his Steppin' journey during February, 2010, after watching his sister (Tanya) and her husband (Robert). Tanya and Robert Smith are veteran Steppers from Victorville, CA, and are promoters of the dance, thru their organization "High Desert Steppers". See 2014 Stepping In Shades Of Green Las Vegas Photos
He went on to explain that he fell in love with the dance, because of its smoothness. And, while he confesses a love for "the strategies of completing combinations", he stresses a deeper importance in the lead-follow connection between men and women. He and his wife, Michelle, are experiencing that connection in the dance � and, now, in the business of Steppin'. On top of all of this, he appears to be well-grounded and appreciative for his personal experience with the dance. He even remembers the first Steppin' event that he attended. It was produced by one of the most active Steppin' organizations in the Las Vegas area (Them Steppin' Kats, President Dwight Farmer). Further, he credits Steady Steppers (Brian "Butta" Williams) of Las Vegas for teaching him the basics of the dance.
I became intrigued about his emphasis on "community service". As he explains his motivations and rewards, you will quickly learn that he is not naieve about the financial realities of Steppin' promotions at this time, and in his community. As he put it, "You don't go into this thinking 'how much money am I going to make? It's more like, you're asking yourself, 'how much can I afford to lose."
With that daunting revelation, I wanted to know why he spends his time and money promoting Steppin. He answered the question by explaining that the Shades of Green event started at their local club, the "Red Label Lounge", and grew to the Palms Hotel and Casino, before moving to the current venue, the Aliente Hotel & Casino. He beams as he discusses many of the rewarding moments from the event, including the "times when Steppers were able to sit and break bread with each other". But I got a very moving impression from a snippet of something that happened at the event. He told me about his pleasure of being able to dance with his mother and his 17 year old daughter � at the event. Although his mother is blind, he and his family (collectively) taught their mother to Step, by the 8-Count method.
He also talks about his hopes and dreams that "Shades of Green" will take on the characteristics of a national event (...get this part...) and "for it to represent my city well". He reflects and speaks a word of caution about a lesson he has learned; "When you show great character in and outside the community, you can always live and defend your truth. Because, when joy covers many, chaos will always try to get attention." Based on this, he diligently works to create events and opportunities that "put spirituality in our dance promotions and music."
The next time you see a promotional flyer for a Steppin' event, perhaps you will pause to consider whether, or not, your attendance helps to support the values you live by and the promotion of our art form -Steppin'. I like to believe that my resources are spent supporting my personal values and the expansion of our art, rather than supporting somebody's hustle. I'm glad to know more about "Why" he promotes "Shades of Green" and I have every hope that he and his community can transform Steppin' into a thriving community. Las Vegas Steppers have a reputation for being a fun bunch and very enjoyable community. Some of the men (I'll only mention one name: Arthur Moor) are usually on the floor when the DJ starts, dance with every everybody they can get to, and doesn't seem to stop until the DJ is unplugging and packing up their equipment. Ladies tend to like that.
In conclusion, Congratulations to Godcore Productions and Mr. King for "Steppin' in Shades of Green" - a great and growing Steppin' experience in North Las Vegas. While "Kermit the Frog" proclaimed that "It's not easy being Green" those who know the "community value" and difference between a $5 Steppers Set and a $50+ Steppin' Event, appreciate thoughtful work. The transformative spirit of community service is a proverbial seed (in fertile ground) that can (with good nourishment) reap abundance. The efforts and example of Khalid King and the Las Vegas Steppin' Community inspires a greater sense of appreciation for what was done and is being done to promote Steppin' on the West Coast and around the world.