T. Pratt, Pete Frazier, and Andre Blackwell (2013 World’s Largest Weekend Hosts)
The 2013 World’s Largest Weekend has wrapped and another awesome event is in the books. There’s tons to talk about, and rather than chop it up into 5 articles, I’m going to give it all to you right here.
Thursday, Meet and Greet
The Thursday Meet and Greet event was relatively light compared to most of the other parties taking place that weekend. I hear The Blue Note and the Island Bar and Grill were packed, and it was primarily because those sets were free. While the Meet and Greet was a financial success despite the other events that took place, I’ve come to the conclusion that a Thursday Meet and Greet is not necessary for a national Chicago weekend like it is in other cities. So needless to say, that will probably be cut from the agenda next year.
Even with a lighter crowd, DJ Black Cool did his thing and we had individuals from Atlanta, LA, Chicago and many other places in the building.
Friday, Pre World’s Largest Party
The Pre Party was off the chain as usual. Steppers from all over the nation showed up at the event looking fabulous and dancing their butts off. The floor of the convention center was packed, the seats were packed, and the pre function area was packed. We couldn’t have asked for me … well … you can always ask for more, but we were happy with the turnout and the compliments we received from our guests.
Midway through the party, Steppers danced a crack into one of the dance floors, but the convention center staff got it fixed in 5 minutes. DJ Cross and DJ Mellow Khris kept the party smoking and DJ Steve “Breeze” Brewer provided the sound. Shout out to Tonya Tharp, Latresa Tucker, and Jacque Hood for holding down the door and helping out at the party. Special thanks to Doc Ellis for help with set up, Steppin Luther and Earl for help with the Red Carpet, and D Moore Photos for taking pictures. Shouts out to Oh So Smooth Radio and WZON for publicizing the event, and to Jerome Cook from the Tinley Park Convention Center for being great to work with. Special thanks to Pete Frazier, who we failed to acknowledge during the event, for being a great partner on this amazing weekend.
Saturday, World’s Largest Steppers Contest
I’m actually going to write more on the contest, but as usual some folks were disgruntled by the results. Being quite frank, the main issues that I’ve heard are …
1. The new school judging panel was too … well … new! It seemed that some of the aim (from Lady Margaret in particular) was indirectly being shot at Q Wilson, a Dre and Company protégé with only 4 years dancing experience. Now I know some people might have been taken aback by Margaret’s criticism, but she asks a very valid question about when is someone qualified to judge a contest. The problem is, there is no standard rule on how long a person should be dancing, or what experience they should have before they’re qualified to judge new skool. There is an old skool standard, but no new skool standard. To Q’s defense, she has competed at least 2 times that I can think of, so she definitely understands what goes into this dance. I’m sure however, that if you lined 10 people up and asked them what the criteria to judge should be, they’d come up with 10 different answers. When you think about it, the New Skool era is really only 15 years old (give or take a year), so there isn’t much more experience you can have. Even so, before you throw Lady Margaret’s criticism out as just being a hater, you have to acknowledge that she brings up a valid question.
2. The other major point of contention that I’ve heard is Cliff “Big Slim” Reynolds winning 1st place in the New Skool Category. I spoke to Cliff about this and he said he feel’s the bull’s eye is on his back has well. Cliff said, “I didn’t pick me, the judges picked me. Don’t be mad at me.” He also said, “I bet you I’m going to cash this check when I get it.” Boom! How do you like those apples!
What I’ll say about the New Skool Category is this … as a spectator, the New Skool category was extremely boring to watch. No one really seemed to take any chances or dare to be great. Everyone was pretty basic. I give big props to Geno Spears for dipping his partner, who had a few pounds on her, and Nikee for running around the stage doing “The Bird” like Morris Day and The Time, but outside of that, no one else took any chances. I was disappointed in Feo and Keesha’s performance, who I had high expectations for and after speaking with Feo, I learned that he was disappointed as well. Kirk White did really well dancing with his student, but when no one takes any major chances, anybody can win. In my opinion, Cliff did as good as anybody else up there.
3. Music Selections: What was up with the music selections in the Old Skool Category? All of those garbage new skool music selections were missed opportunities to draw both the crowd and the judges in with great classic records. Contest music used to be a major way to both draw the crowd in and get an advantage on the person you’re dancing against on the floor. Contestants should consider this for next year.
4. Outfits: I personally don’t think a person should lose a dance contest because of their outfit, but because fashion is so much a part of Steppin, you can’t totally disregard it. One thing I can say for sure is that the standard for dressing in a contest has dropped significantly. Geno, Tori, and Nikee’s trio outfit didn’t match at all and they’re usually impeccably dressed. They’re all my peeps, but they usually come dressed so fresh that it made me pay special attention to them. There were tons of others who would have lost on their outfits alone many years back.
Well, that’s about all I have in the way of controversy and critique. Here are my other observations …
I thought the Old Skool Category was judged fairly and accurately. I thought Darrell and Angela danced really well, James and Tineka turned it up, Pharies Henderson and Lisa Barnes vs. Lawrence Parker and Tina Wilson had the best battle of the night, and Drew Alexander and Cheryl Powe vs. Smoke Dixon and Candace Hinton had the best music of the night.
I was really impressed with a few new comers who stepped up to the big leagues for the first time including: Ed Donaldson and Amanda Anderson (Detroit), Richard Cochran (who danced with Anne Hunter) (Detroit), Carlton Puckett and Lauren La Grone (Los Angeles), and Keenan Harris (who danced with his mother Shawn James) (Atlanta). From this list, I thought Lauren La Grone had the prettiest dress in the entire contest and I thought Keenan did an awesome job showing out with this mother (although Mama Shawn kinda carried Keenan a little bit).
The Saturday After Party and Sunday Day Party were both awesome. Shouts out to DJ Cross and DJ Calvin for DJing the contest, DJ Roy Shannon for DJing the After Party, and DJ Rodney Mack for DJing the Sunday Day Party. Special thanks goes out to Merredith Monroe and Martha Stephans for helping out at the Platinum Parties.
More on the contest and winners later. That’s all I have for now!