Dancing with a lady is the only thing that kept me Bopping and Walking for more than 50 years. The woman is the key in the dance. I’ve seen many changes in the steppers community since my return. Some good and some not so good. “Steppin” now has instructors, counts, schools, competitions, categories and features. I’m amazed by all of the changes to the simple folk dance that was passed down through family and friends. Now, don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with change. Change is the only thing that is constant. What makes me wonder are the reasons why people dance. And the absence on the focus of why we should dance.
When I started dancing in high school, I would bop and walk my way through the corridors of Tilden High School. Walking in rhythm got me noticed by the ladies so I danced all the time.
You see in high school, I wasn’t this or that, I’m a NERD that could dance. And with dancing came advantages and disadvantages. The advantage was the popularity of being a good dancer which gave me opportunity to dance with females that were talented, bougie, intelligent and beautiful. The disadvantage was females who may have had an interest in me, for me wouldn’t give me the time of day because I was too popular. And then there were the problems that come with dance “relationships” between partners. So I was damned if I did and damned if I did not. The confusion and drama with dancing put something on my mind that made me look differently about dancing. I needed to be able to flirt and show interest in a woman without saying a word. Thus, dancing became a ritual for me. My dance became a language where I used my natural rhythms to talk to her through the dance without saying a word. And if she smiled, I knew then that I could talk to her.
The ritual part of the dance turns into a man’s particular style on the wood. I’m not sure if the style can be developed through the 8 count the way it has been taught by some instructors because the ritual requires moves that are in time with the rhythm of the music and not the numbers in the count. Over the years, I’ve seen some incredible rituals performed by the brothers on the wood. I’ve seen brothers use their hands, kick their legs, go under a woman’s outstretched arm, use props like a handkerchief, pull up their pants leg, slide in every direction and my favorite “stomping”. I use the “STOMP” to show approval to a woman when she makes a move that catches my eye. I also stomp to appreciate her beauty, style and elegance in her dance.
The ritual of a dance is simple the dance should be to her, for her and with her. Let’s put the focus in the dance on where it should be and that is on the WOMAN.