In part 2 of my exclusive interview with Detroit Steppin standout Drew Alexander, we get personal. ChiStepper touches on taboo questions like whether he’s having sex on the scene, his weight, and whether or not Steppin can be a career choice. You definitely want to tune in!
T. Pratt: Let’s talk about your own peer group. Is there anyone in your peer group that’s really on your level?
Drew: When you say my peer group, what do you mean?
T. Pratt: The people that are dancing against you now that pretty much started in a similar window as you? So we’re talking about Feo, and maybe some people that were a little before your time, like Carlos and other people who match your prime competitive years, Jerry, Nikee.
Drew: Man! It pretty much comes down to those people that I compete against and most of those people are pretty much new skool dancers. So when I think about all of those dancers, I think about the quality that they don’t have, which is an old skool feel. I think that’s the difference between my dance and all of theirs. They still hold on to that new skool style, and that’s all they got. They haven’t tapped into the old skool and the flow of old skool. So as far as anybody in my peer group that can be there with me, I’d say the closest person is Feo. But even then, it’s like I’m almost by myself because it’s nobody in my peer group that focuses on the old skool like I do.
T. Pratt: And for the people, I’m going to say this on the record. I’m pulling this out of you. It’s going to come off a little arrogant but the reality [in my opinion] is that you are a little bit above your peers, and a little bit might be being generous. Feo is about the closest to you in your era, and Feo is absolutely phenomenal at what he does but when you talk about being as totally well rounded as you are, you do have to reach to a different peer group to find that well-roundedness. So I’m going to say that for you, because I know you’re going to get a little heat from that. (Laughing)
T. Pratt: I want move into some different areas on a more personal level. [In terms of a career] they’re not offering any pensions in Steppin, no retirement plans.
Drew: God no!
T. Pratt: I believe that if a person has true business savvy that there is enough money in Steppin for the BEST dancers to make a living doing it. But have you thought about your future in this dance and whether or not this can be a career for you? Or will you eventually have to move on to something more serious?
Drew: Well actually Terrance … What I have actually done since 2010 is I’ve made my dance a business. For one it’s a passion for me. I was going to school for physical therapy and I realized that it wasn’t going to make me happy and it wasn’t going to be something that I enjoyed doing on a daily basis. And I realized after a lot of thinking and a lot of spiritual thinking, that dancing is what I love to do. And dancing is what I want to do. And I get a lot of flack from people who say, “You need to go to school, and you need to get a good job, and this and that.” And I realize that that’s how people were raised to think and that’s how I was raised to think and then I realized one day, “What’s going to make you happy?” So dancing for me is a passion. Dancing is something that I would do every day even if I didn’t make money from it. So that in its own is something that’s like, “I gotta do it.” So in 2010 I started a business … Smoothtivity Productions, so now I have business plans and I have plans of opening up somewhat of a dance school. And not just for Steppin, although it’s going to start with Steppin, but at some point it’s going to go into the other dances that I also do where I’ll have instructors teaching in a building. It’ll be just like a school. So my business plan is in the making and I still go to school. I’m in school for business now because I need to learn how to run my business. So I’m in school for that. As well as I have another venture that I’m into. It’s a traveling venture … it’s basically a travel club that I’m a part of so I’m on my money grind as people say. But the thing is, dancing is what I want to do and dancing is going to be where I make my business because it’s something that makes me happy, and I enjoy making people happy with it. So I get a lot of flack about it because people are like, you need to go to school for this, and you need to go to school for that, and I’m like, “Well that’s not what makes me happy. So sorry to disappoint you.”
T. Pratt: (Laughing)
Drew: I am blessed enough to be able to be put in a position to where, because I’m good at what I do, I’m able to make money at what I do. I’ve been able to support myself for the last 3 years … truly support myself. You know … car note … and you’ve seen my truck. I’ve been able to afford a car and pay bills and this and that off of what I do. It’s how you take care of the business. It’s not the fact that you’re in it, it’s how you take care of it that matters. So I’ve been blessed enough to be able to take care of my business with dancing being at the forefront.
T. Pratt: Awesome. Now I saw you put a post online … I forget exactly what the post was, but it was pretty funny. It was something to the effect of, “I don’t life weights, I lift plates.”
Drew: (Laughing) Yeah!
T. Pratt: Outside of just your talent, I think what really amazes people is your movement and your agility with your size.
Drew: (Cutting In) That’s kinda my pull. That’s one of the reasons why, to be honest, I haven’t lost a whole lot of weight. I would kinda lose a little weight and then gain it back. My weight kinda fluctuates, but it’s never a big loss. That’s what everybody sees and it’s like “Oh my God.” It’s kinda mind blowing how I’m able to move the way that I move and be a big guy.
T. Pratt: What about your health. I worry about your health.
Drew: Ahh … I’m not unhealthy. I don’t have high blood pressure. My cholesterol ain’t high. Every now and then I might splurge on some food, but really what it is for me is that I don’t eat as much as I need to so my body is like, we gotta hold on to this food. I’m in the midst of making some changes in terms of eating more healthy and maintaining a good diet. But I’ve always been, in a sense, athletic. I’m just not really into sports. I play ‘em but I’m not really into them like that. Everybody thought I shoulda played football instead of being a dancer. They always say, you got the fancy feet, you’d be sweet. But it’s not my thing. But I’m not unhealthy. It’s just a lifestyle and I’ve always been big-boneded. I got a little belly on me. It’s okay. I’ll make it work. I’ll become healthier in my future days.
T. Pratt: That leads me into my next question. You said you’d make it work. Have you dated any women on the Steppin scene. You don’t have to give me names, but have you dated any women on the Steppin scene?
T. Pratt: No! (Surprised)
Drew: I have not!
T. Pratt: Have you ever had sex with any?
T. Pratt: You never had sex with a single woman on the Steppin scene?
Drew: I haven’t. I know that’s like so amazing, right?
T. Pratt: I know you got a little game. I’ve heard about you game.
Drew: (Laughing) It ain’t what they say, it ain’t what they say. (Laughing)
T. Pratt: (Laughing) I know you spit at ‘em. So you telling me you’re just spitting for practice. Is that what you’re telling me?
Drew: I aint’ going to say it’s just for practice. For me, I’ve always been a flirter. I’ve always been like that. To be honest, since I’ve always been around an older crowd as a young guy in the dance community I’ve always been around older women. And at some point, even though I was young, I had learn how to talk to them. And so, I would say that was the practice. Of course as life goes on you keep learning. But you know for me it’s always been about making the women feel good in conversation or in dancing. A lot of my conversation happens on the floor through the hands. So if I flirt there then you know, that’s part of it too. But no, I have not had sexual encounters with any women (Said in his president Bill Clinton voice) … (Laughing) on the Steppin scene. And I’m actually proud of that because as a male traveling instructor, we get the reputation to be the ones that have [a lady] in every city and I haven’t fit that quota so I’m good with that.
T. Pratt: Well, I’m going to make sure I ask you again in two years. (Laughing)
Drew: And I’ll make sure I’ll be honest. I’m sure the count will be real low, but you know.
T. Pratt: Good, good. Well Drew, that’s all I got for you. Thanks for being a good sport. I said I wasn’t going to do anymore interviews until I could ask the questions I really wanted to ask.
T. Pratt: And I appreciate you being among the new generation of people that I’m going to interview the right way. I also want to say that I’m a big fan of your talent and I want to come and learn under you. I’m not too proud to say that and I wish you all the best as you continue to grow and smash new barriers in this dance.
Drew: I appreciate it. Thanks man!