There are many versions on the history of “Steppin” in Chicago and the various versions have merit. It is those “different” and varied experiences that makes the history of the dance beautiful and worth the study. There are many who lived and experienced a part of the history in this dance. The objective here is to add to the many versions of history that are presently available. Dancing is like a language no one knows who did it first or who gave it the name yet we speak the same language. The beauty of Bopping, Stepping, and Walking is the two individuals coming together to create a unique art on the dance floor.
“Bopping” is a dance that was primarily done by the parents of the “Baby Boomers” generation. Bopping is part of the “swing style” family of partner dances however in Chicago many of the acrobatic moves, spins and turns of the original swing styles were toned down and the Chicago Style was created where the dance took on a more laid back and smoother execution done mainly with one hand. Bopping became an “elite” dance in Chicago that included a “secret society” of social partner dancers and lifestyle. Someone had to bring you into the culture before you were accepted in the culture and lifestyle. As a social partner dance, Boppers learned to Bop from parents, other family members, and close friends in their youth. Boppers prided themselves on being a part of the “watch and learn” generation. The music of the Boppers included the popular sounds of jazz, soul, and R&B.
“Walking” emerged as a dance in the early 1960s. Walking coincided with the romantic Doo Wop music of the late 1950s and Jazz music. Walking is the black version of the WALTZ one of the oldest European dances. In addition, Walking was considered by some as a “slowed down” version of Bopping. Walking was at the aphex of the social dances because walking could be done on a wide variety of music. It was not necessarily a “slow or romantic” tune that brought individuals together to execute walking. Walkers could create art on a jazz tune or medium tempo soul or r&b tune. There were several variations of walking the single step, double step stride and the skip walk. One mistake made by some individuals was thinking that “slow dancing” and “walking” are the same. Slow dancing is intimate with bodies pressed upon each other, while walking looks intimate however, the bodies are not pressed on each other.
“Steppin” which is not to be confused with the art form of “Stepping” done by college students in the black Greek culture, has a rich history that comes from the black neighborhoods of Chicago. The starting point for “Steppin” appeared in the early 1970s through the teenagers of the streets and high schools in Chicago. The music that ushered in the “New Bop” variation by the youth, was the music of the JB’s, with songs like “Gimmie Some More” and “Pass The Peas“. “Steppin” came from the youth that followed the original Boppers generation in Chicago and for brief period from 1972 – 1975 the dance was called the “New Bop”. The “New Bop” added the use of two hands and a stylish kick out or step out to the basic steps of Bopping. The New Bop and Steppin(which are synonymous) came from the swing dance style called Bopping done by previous generations. The name “Steppin” is credited to DJ Sam Chatman who promoted parties especially for the teenagers in Chicago. Steppin was created by the teenagers in Chicago in the mid 1970s.