Local California Steppin’ Promoters (JB Platinum Productions) served up a Red-Hot event treat for the home crowd, on the day after the Fourth of July. The 2nd Annual event was entitled “A Night in Havana Steppers' Dinner” and it brought out Steppers in Red & White fashions, which captured the attention of many of the other patrons and staff of event venue. Steppers were eloquently, handsomely, and sharply clad, but even they would have been forced to take second place in a beauty contest that evening. The decorating team for the promoters transformed the settings of the Coco Palms Restaurant in Pomona, California into a steamy Cuban-esque atmosphere. And then Mother Nature served up a warm, humid evening that would have had anyone wondering if they had taken a flight to the island for an evening of Steppin’.
As the sun set and the shadows crept across the valleys and slopes of those curvaceous and famous rolling California hills, the handsomely decorated event transformed into a near-dream of scenery. As the darkness spread and the city lights sprinkled across those rolling hills, the moon danced around the edges of tall palm trees and the sounds of smooth jazz and other Steppin’ favorites pounded the air. There are times in life, when some of the elements come together, at the right time, and in the right way, to create very memorable and lasting impressions for those who have the fortunate awareness and opportunity to participate in them. This event was one of those occasions.
During an after dinner interview, I had the opportunity to interview Jeff Warnick and Brian“Steppin B” Patterson about their collaboration (aka JB Platinum Productions). Steppin’ B, humorously, credited Jeff’s mom with the “J” portion – and, then, credited his own mother with the “B” portion of the combined name “JB”. It was Jeff Warnick, however, who articulated the mission of this promotion team… to produce upscale Steppin’ events that capture the rare and unique outdoor settings of the California and West Coast Steppin’ communities. They certainly picked the right night and the right venue to make an unmistakably and impressive impact on their guests.
When Phamily Steppers’ hosts its 3rd Annual Steppers’ Awards & Celebration, JB Platinum’s“A Night in Havana” is nearly certain to be in the running for Promoter of the Year. There are a few weekly Steppers Sets, and there are even a few monthly Steppers Sets offered by local promoters. This year, however, there appears to be a growing number of Annual Steppers events in upscale locations. This genre of events is quickly growing on the west coast. Coincidentally, there will be some stiff competition coming up this weekend – from Nikki Heidelberg and the promoters at “Steppin It Up” as they present their “Hot Summer Night Party” at the famous Skirball Cultural Center. THEN…. both of these events face the Class of 2013 Promoters of the Year currently occupied by Oakland California’s Damone Hodges and “Steppers Only” in their production of “Shades of Brown”; followed by the Inland Empire’s Denise Barrow and “A Step Ahead Entertainment” in their presentation of “The 7th Annual Harlem Nights Steppers Ball”; and then, Los Angeles’ Garry Fields of “Gentleman G Entertainment” will present his “Black Friday Steppers’ Ball.” There is BIG entertainment on tap for West Coast Steppers, because as JB Platinum says “we got more on the way…”
JB Platinum Productions has served notice on previous winners of the Steppers’ Awards – they are serious in the game. The venue and the view were spectacular, a three-course meal (even a great salad), complimentary Champagne, DJ’s Shermaxx and DJ Mike (both are past Steppers Award Winners), and … this event sold out! Not an empty seat in the house and they were force to turn away some people at the gates to the event. I can’t imagine an equivalent venue setting, so I don’t expect a change of venue for next year. Caveat Emptor – next year, get your tickets early.
When one thinks of the Police, the word "soul" does not immediately leap to mind. Yet a single off their 1980 album Zenyatta Mondatta transformed into a staple of "Chicago-Style Steppin'," a dance made popular in Chicago's African-American clubs. "Voices Inside My Head" features heavy rhythmic elements, scratchy guitar, and Sting's eerie voice, adding up to a surprisingly soulful track that represents the Police's take on rhythm and blues.
Recorded over four weeks in the Netherlands, Zenyatta Mondatta may be most famous for the classic songs "Don't Stand So Close to Me" and "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da," along with deep cuts such as "When The World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around" and "Driven to Tears." Indeed, "Voices Inside My Head" distinctly departs from the ska, rock, and punk feel of the album--it stands as largely an instrumental, and it relies on the insistent beat and rhythm guitar. It can be seen as an extension of "When the World Is Running Down" in that it also features a heavy bass line; however, "Voices" requires the listener to focus on the beat rather than politically aware lyrics.
Not surprisingly, "Voices" gained fans through club airplay, peaking at number three on Billboard's Dance Music/Club Play Singles chart in 1981. Today, the song entices dancers to the floor, specifically in the Chicago-Style Steppin' art form. This type of dance requires partners to remain in perfect sync, smoothly executing intricate--but not flashy--footwork. A club will play a selection of songs called "steppers' sets"; the mid-tempo, prominently percussive playlists prove perfect for what is often termed "urban ballroom," a form rooted in Jitterbug and its direct predecessor, the Bop. While R&B artists largely dominate Steppers' Sets, a DJ often weaves in less likely acts such as Maroon 5, Loggins and Messina, the Spencer Davis Group, and Phil Collins. In other words, any mid-tempo song meeting the rhythmic requirements of steppin' is eligible, and "Voices" is no exception.
Juneteenth is the oldest African-American holiday observance in the United States. This is how it came to be.
The "Emancipation Proclamation" signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln became effective on January 1st, 1863, yet - there were problems with enforcing the law in many areas of the nation.
Two and a half years after the Confederate troops surrendered to the Union Army at Appomattox and ended the Civil War, many people still remain in slave conditions thru lack of enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation.
For purposes of causing the Emancipation Proclamation of be enforced, Union Army Major-General Gordon Granger and his soldiers were dispatched to Galveston, Texas, where, on June 19, 1865, he read General Orders, No.3 to the people of Galveston. It stated:
"The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere."
Thereafter, the date has been celebrated as Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day, and more popularly known as "Juneteenth."
On January 1, 1980, Juneteeth became an official state holiday, in the State of Texas through the efforts of Al Edwards - an African-American state legislator.
In California, Senate Bill 812, was the vehicle by which the holiday became a day of observance. "... Existing law requires the Governor to proclaim the 3rd Saturday in June as "Juneteenth National Freedom Day..."
If you're in Los Angeles, you might want to check out the activities at Leimert Park. Here is more information about that event.
[3/5/2013 The West Coast Report] 2nd Annual Steppers Awards & Celebration By Samuel L. Parker, Sr. (#stepperswestcoastreport) To send a Plugger or Flyer Click Here Contact Samuel L. Parker, Sr.: PhamilySteppers@gmail.org
And The West Coast Steppers' Award Goes To... Occasionally, I am amazed at how interconnected we are. I was reminded of that fact on Saturday, March 1st. It was a day that seasoned and novice event promoters contended with both the aftermath of a severe weather storm on the east coast and the exigencies of an ongoing and threatening weather storm on the west coast. The Atlanta-based Heritage Ball had been rescheduled for this weekend, after severe weather had caused the cancellation of the event a couple of weeks earlier. This weekend, however, was also the scheduled date for the 2nd Annual Steppers Awards & Celebration in Los Angeles, CA. Nevertheless, Steppers gathered from near and far (Las Vegas, Phoenix, St. Louis, and Southern California - among other places) to witness the announcement of the winners and then to celebrate with top Steppers, DJs, and Promoters from the West Coast Steppin' Communities. There wasn't an empty seat in the house. The event was "sold out" on a cold and rainy evening. More Below
And The Votes Are In... By Samuel L. Parker, Sr. (#stepperswestcoastreport)
And The Steppers' Award Goes To... On February 1, 2014, at 12:01am, the official "Voting Period" for the Steppers Awards came to an end - with over 500 ballots being cast. The "awardees" will be announced at the 2nd Annual Steppers Awards & Celebration, in Los Angeles, California, on Saturday, March 1st, 2014. And the Steppers' Award goes to�. the entire Steppin' Community.
The "Steppers Awards & Celebration" is an annual "Blue Carpet" event produced and hosted by Phamily Steppers, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting Chicago-Style Steppin. The purpose of the Steppers Awards is to promote excellence in the Steppin community and has been broadened to include Steppers, DJs, and Steppin' Promoters from several West Coast Steppin' communities (including Oakland, San Diego, Inland Empire, and Los Angeles, CA, Las Vegas, NV, and Phoenix, AZ.) Eligible voters were able to vote, in four separate categories, for their favorite "Female Follow Steppers," "Male Lead Steppers," "Steppin DJs" and "Steppin' Events\Promoters. The "Nominees" for each category were identified during the official "Nomination Period" which was held from December 1st, thru December 31st, 2013. The "Nominees" were identified by their peers and only the top nominees were listed on the final ballot that was available from January 11th, thru January 31st, 2014.
The awardees from this year's voting will constitute the alumni of the "Class of 2013" for their exemplary activities during the 2013 Steppin' Year. There will be a total of 16 awardees, who will join the 16 alumni of the "Class of 2012." The Class of 2012 included (3) three categories, (10) ten Male Lead Steppers, (3) three Steppin DJs, and (3) three Steppin' Events\Promoters. The reigning Class of 2012 includes: Steve Satterfield-Wright, Alvin DeJohnette, Clarence Zanders, Dedrick Vernardo, Carlton Puckett, Alvin Carter, Kamaal Sadeeq, Brian 'Steppin B' Patterson, Rodney Clark, and Brian Williams as Male Lead Steppers. The Steppin' DJs of the Year were DJ Raven (aka Cleon Asante Coker), DJ Mike (aka Mike Anders), and DJ Shermaxx (aka Sherman Reneau). The Steppin' Events\Promoters were Denise Barrow and Sean Evans for "Harlem Nights", Brian 'Steppin B' Patterson and Jeff Warnick for the "Steppers' Christmas Party and Capricorn Birthday Bash", and Patrice Daniels for the "Steppin 4 Life Cancer Awareness Dance". Some of the members\ alumni, of the Class of 2012, quickly perceived the value of being selected by their Steppin' peers. They have used the status to deepen their investment and commitments to pursue and promote excellence in the skills and qualities that they share in the community. As with high school and college graduates, some have embraced their achievement to propel themselves to higher heights, while others have related to their accomplishment as their highest achievement. In a few cases, some (like with high school and college grads) are still not quite sure of what happened, why it is important, or how the status can be used to enhance themselves and their Steppin' communities. As we wait to learn the results of the voting, there is a growing sense of excitement. Who will be among the first "Female Follow Steppers" to have captured the attention of their community? Who, among the 10 "Male Lead Steppers" of the "Class of 2012", will stand among the (5) five "Male Lead Steppers" of the "Class of 2013"? Will the same (3) DJs maintain their dominance as Kings of the 1s and 2s? Will there be a Queen of the 1s and 2s - or, another rising talent? Which events and promoters captured the attention of the Steppers (from which the promoters can expect to have an even larger audience in 2014)? AND, just like all "political campaigns" - Which nominees were successful in energizing their supporters to actually participate in the voting? Phamily Steppers has made efforts to make the "whole process" openly available to all the Steppers, fans, and supporters of Chicago Style Steppin the in the eligible communities. News about the events, and the processes, has circulated throughout the community and remains available on Phamily Steppers' website. Dates, definitions, eligibility status, forms and other information is also available on the website ( www.PhamilySteppers.org ) . In addition to this, the staff and friends of Phamily Steppers have broadened their travel and event attendance to spread-the-word about the "Steppers Awards & Celebration".
At 12:04am, Phamily Steppers was informed that over 500 ballots had been cast during this year's "Election Period." This represents more than 3 times the number of ballots from last year's elections. It also follows a great increase in the number of people who participated in the "Nomination Period". As the community rolls toward the March 1st event, ticket sales are also reflecting this trend. The 2nd Annual Steppers Awards & Celebration will feature Keith Hubbard as Master of Ceremonies for the Awards Program and DJ Raven will serve as Master of the 1s and 2s for the Awards Celebration. The paparazzi will be there (actually, there will be several professional photographers) to capture the event and the Blue Carpet reception of the fashionably attired guests. So, don't just come "dressed to impress" - come "dress to be discovered." It's the "awards season" in Hollywood � and this is how we do it, in the Steppin' community.
Some people will leave the ceremony and celebration with awards in their hands, but all of us will leave with great memories in our hearts and the hope and expectation of another great year of Steppin' on the West Coast. Through the promotion of our collective interests (Chicago Style Steppin') we are all winners. Let's go to work!