One Step Promotions kicked off their second annual Steppin In Colors of Sunset set in Phoenix, Arizona this past weekend at the Crown Plaza hotel in the Metro Center area of Phoenix. Angie Faine, the president of the group, invited me to this event nearly a year ago, which speaks in many ways to her event planning and promotion skills. Even so, I was a bit nervous because my last couple of trips to the west coast resulted in me sharing opinions that didn’t get me invited back. There were a number of Steppers from Las Vegas in the building that reminded me of my criticisms.
The Steppin in Colors of Sunset event however, was executed flawlessly and we were treated like royalty. Dennis, a Chicago native now living retired in Phoenix picked me up and brought me back to the Crown Plaza hotel where a huge gift bag was waiting for me in the welcome suite. We hung out in the suite for a bit before heading down to the Friday party, where DJ Terry Hobson (Oakland), DJ Mike (Los Angeles), and DJ Shorty Smooth (Milwaukee) absolutely killed it in the booth. The west coast has a reputation for dancing to very fast Steppers music, so I had very low expectations, but these DJ’s really made the weekend awesome. I’m still in a knee brace from ACL and Meniscus surgery, but I ended up dancing most of the weekend because the music was so great. I’m paying the price for it now.
The after party was canceled Friday night, but no one really seemed to mind because many were tired from long travel schedules. Saturday morning was dedicated to workshops, and I attended my very first workshop ever, which was a Trio workshop hosted by Feo Duncan. Feo does an awesome job breaking the Trio down and he had me doing stuff that I would have never imagined in the first 30 minutes. Charnice and Darrell Davis, Stickman, and Cheryl and Devan were others that I remembered hosting workshops during the event.
Following the workshops, One Step hosted a pool party, which was my favorite part of the weekend. Steppers played cards, dominoes, sat in the hot tub, Stepped, and got massages pool side, while sitting under palm trees with a picturesque view of mountains in the background. The one thing Black folks did not do at the pool party – was get in the pool. But I digress.
There were two restaurants in the hotel, and a host of restaurants and shopping about a mile down the street, so a lot of people refueled before heading to the main event later that evening. Saturday night was more of the same – good music, good people, and good dancing. At one point in the evening Phoenix honored its pioneers, and those names included long time ChiStepper reader Marguerite McMray and Ceola Coasten among many others. Keith Hubbard did a great job MCing the affair, and the One Step team teased him about talking too much on the mic, but it was all in jest. Following the main event, I attended a brief after party at Spice Bar inside the Crown Plaza before heading off to breakfast at IHOP with Feo, Keesha, and Angie Faine’s twin daughter, Taylor.
On Sunday, I MC’d a great Steppers Forum that included panelists Angie Faine, Keith Hubbard, Darrell Davis, Stickman, Charnice Simmons, Tyehimba Jelani, and Feo Duncan. There are always great moments where the feedback is a little intense, but overall awesome information and advice was shared. The west coast is still finding its identity in the Steppin game and comparisons were made between the culture that has developed in cities like L. A. and Las Vegas, and Chicago. Student advice, music, business insights for promoters, and much more was shared on the panel.
We wrapped the weekend up at a very nice soul food restaurant (I believe it was called Michael’s) with good food, and a nice big dance floor. The great thing about this place was that the entire floor was wood so the whole restaurant became the dance floor.
In all, Phoenix really captivated me this weekend. You get a feeling that the people who have moved there love it, and that love is extended to you as a guest. It was the perfect time to visit, as the weather averaged around 85 degrees – I hear it can get up to 120 degrees in the middle of summer. It was my first time coming to Phoenix and it felt like a destination weekend. For the those on the west coast, the palm trees, cactuses, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, black bumblebees, hummingbirds, and gorgeous sunsets mean very little, but coming from Chicago where the weather is cold, the skies are gray, the city is congested, and everything around you is moving a warp speed, you really feel like you’re on a vacation.
Speaking of the west coast, there were Steppers from Oakland, L. A., Las Vegas, Portland, and Seattle among other areas. I was happy to see that the level of dancing has increased substantially since my visit to Las Vegas 4 years ago. While my criticisms were harsh, they must have registered because every one I danced with from Vegas did an awesome job. The west coast, with the support of the independent communities that they’ve built, has the ability to put on a great set without tons of Chicagoans in attendance. That was awesome to see. Even so, it would be great to see the I Love Steppin weekend and the One Step promotions weekend not overlap next year so more people from the Midwest and East coast can make the trip to Phoenix, and vice versa. Just like I’ve told you about the Heritage Ball, Rodney Mack’s White Party, Harlem Nights, and a few others, you will not be disappointed.
I want to send shouts out to: Angie Faine for arranging my visit to Phoenix and Detra Harrison, Robin Oglesby-Harris, Daphne, Robert, Dennis and the entire One Step family for taking care of me this weekend. You all did an awesome job and I look forward to next year! Pictures will be posted on ChiStepper’s Facebook Page!