GDI Heritage Ball Full Weekend Review

The 2015 GDI Heritage Ball has come to an end and Steppers are gradually recovering from a four-day weekend with at least 6 parties, including this one, that I can think of off the top of my head.  Add to that a little skating and tons of dance workshops and you have a pretty full weekend.  It is no secret that the GDI Heritage Ball is my absolute favorite Steppers weekend of the year, and although a knee injury kept me on the sidelines far more than I’m used to, I managed to hobble through just enough dances to have a great time.

Speaking of a good time, DJ Calvin and DJ Cross smoked in the booth Friday night as Steppers packed the ballroom sporting their Red and Black outfits.  In the midst of the music, Atlanta crooner Teddy Austin graced the stage to perform a number of his Steppin hits including his popular joints “Eye No” and “Curiosity.”  This was followed by an even more Steller Saturday night event, where DJ’s Mellow Khris and John Pierre kept the floor packed all night.

For a room that was packed with Detroiters, who showed up in amazing numbers, it was only fitting that their very own soul singer, K’Jon blessed the stage with a number of his Steppin hits including “On The Ocean” and his popular hit record “A Beautiful Thing.”  Pete Frazier did a great job MC’ing the weekend and on Saturday night special recognition was paid to the original MAK 3, Angie Faine, Keith Hubbard, and Dave Maxx for their contributions to the Steppin game and the work that they put in traveling to places like California and London sharing the dance of Steppin.

Most of the Steppers that I talked to and interviewed said they were having a great time.  Of course the parties were off the chain.  A number of people mentioned having a great time roller skating.   For many, it was a time to catch up with friends and hang out at dinners and lounges trading funny stories.  Even so, there were also some comments and suggestions made as well.  One recurring comment was the lack of microwaves in the rooms, and the $6 room service charge to have your food heated up.  Normally, I don’t think this would have been a big deal, but when you consider that it’s hard to find good food to eat in Atlanta at 2am after the party, heating up leftovers sounds like a great idea.  That leads to another issue some brought up, which was that some of the rooms were cold, which might also lend itself to having a microwave to heat up leftovers.

No one mentioned transportation to the hotel, which was initially believed to be a major issue changing to the new hotel, but some were a little alarmed by the size of the hotel – and it was massive.  The problem, which I believe is fixable, is that unlike the previous hotel, there was no central hang out area for Steppers.  Steppers were spread out over 3 floors as there were lounge areas and bars all over the place it seemed.  It took away that family gathering effect we’d become accustomed to at the Heritage Ball.  To me, simply dedicating a space in the hotel as the Steppers hangout and announcing it is a simple fix to the issue.  And to the point of room temperature, which was an issue that I didn’t have, I believe it was because the weather was unseasonably cold for Atlanta.  To that end, I searched three days for a winter cap and couldn’t find one at any store in Atlanta during the month of February.  And for the microwave issue, I can think of many solutions, but they all involve to some degree, purchasing one of those cheap $25 microwaves from Walmart and having a bunch of people chip in on it and share it.

The gripes were small in the grand scheme of things, and Steppers showed up in awesome numbers on Sunday morning to cheer on the 2015 Steppin All Stars at an incredible All Star Game that produced many very exciting and memorable performances.  ChiStepper hosted the event along with Oh So Smooth radio and me and Shorty Smooth always work well together co-MCing the event.  Sherry Gordon broke her own record with 62 consecutive right turns, and Steppers like Drew, Feo, Dominique, and Herk amazed the crowd in Catch-A-Beat trio.  We got surprise performances from Herk Williams, Ericka Little, and Angie Faine and some awesome dance moves from Tony and Dominique Dow, Andre Blackwell, Keesha Anderson, Candace Hinton, Charnice Simmons, Yvette O’Donnell, Lady Margaret Fisher, Sarah Teagle, Kevin Dockery, and Smoke Dixon.  I was most proud however of Ed Donaldson and Amanda Anderson for handling some very difficult dance categories with only 3 ½ and 2 ½ years dancing respectively.  It shows their dedication to this craft and that if you really work hard at something you can achievement success at it.  When they were included as All Stars it was not because of popularity but due to their talent, and it has to be that way to show the proper respect to all of the dancers who have put the work in.  Now I created the All Star Game, so I realize it’s my baby and I’m going on and on about it here, but I would be remise not to also recognize the 14 Beginner’s level Steppers who volunteered to participate in the All Star Game.  Since it’s always cool to get a little recognition, I want to say thanks to Herschel Smith, Sonny Dein, Robbie Red, Roy Williams, Henry Williams, Doc, Marquies Martin, Ryan Whitney, Josette Sanders, Jerae Byrd, Oni Faulkner, Nikisha Nabors, Shirley Henry, and Marcie Bass for being good sports and dancing with our All Star instructors.

The All Star Game was followed by a brunch and then another Steppers party Sunday night.  A combination of the Weekend’s DJs played for these affairs and closed the weekend beautifully.  As of tomorrow morning I’ll be heading into knee surgery, and I won’t be able to dance for another 6 months, so I strategically planned this weekend as my last hurrah … and my friends at GDI never disappoint me.  Thanks for another incredible weekend and I can’t wait for next year!

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