ChiStepper.com was in the ATL covering the 2012 GDI Heritage Ball and once again the amazing group of 8, with tons of awesome volunteers, pulled off an incredible weekend. The ball kicked off on Thursday night with a packed ballroom at the Atlanta Gateway Marriot Hotel. The DJ’s for the evening were Shorty Smooth and DJ Raphael. Meanwhile, DJ Rockin Rodney Mack had Ellery’s on lock, which was also reported as being wall to wall. It was surely a sign of things to come.
On Friday night, the Red and Black party kicked off with DJ Calvin and DJ Smooth on the 1’s and 2’s. This year GDI opened up the full 40,000 sq ft Georgia International Convention Center (GICC) for the thousands of Steppers who were in attendance. On Saturday we returned to the GICC for a packed house DJ’d by Mellow Khris. GDI had a HUGE surprise in store for the guests, as the Universoul Circus’ stilt walkers came out and performed to an African drum troupe. This was definitely a major highlight of the weekend. The city “roll call,” another highlight of the evening, was won for a second year by Chicago.
Sunday morning, hundreds of Steppers returned to the GICC as ChiStepper.com hosted the 1st Annual Steppin’ Allstar Game (more on this in another article), where some of the nation’s best Steppers competed in a series of fun skills challenges. The contest was big fun and received rave reviews from both the Steppers and the audience. Shorty Smooth DJ’d the event and kept the crowd on their feet. Following the Allstar Game, Tyk Myn played the tunes at the packed Sunday brunch. At this point, we were 4 days in and the Steppers hadn’t slowed down a bit. Later Sunday night, we went back the Marriot Gateway hotel where DJ Black Cool and Cleveland’s DJ Butta worked the booth for Cora O’Kelly and Melanie Fields’ packed birthday party celebration.
In between all of the dancing, tons of great things happened. A number of Steppers woke up early Saturday morning for a 5K run. I hear Kelly out of Detroit, a seasoned marathon runner, took the grand prize. On Friday, Pete Frazier was surprised with a lifetime achievement award. There were Heritage Tours into the city with stops at Macy’s (one of the weekend’s sponsors) and the Lennox Mall. Of course, the signature Charter Bus service was still in effect to transport Steppers back and forth to Ellery’s. The GDI staff kicked off the HB Gentleman concept, where many of us wore blinking blue lights to show the women we were available to dance. I wore the light for the entire night not even knowing what it meant. No wonder I was worn out at the end of the night.
All of the dancing worked up an appetite and a number of us pigged out at Champions (the Marriot Gateway’s restaurant), ate free breakfast at the Springhill Marriot, paid $10 for a very convenient post-party breakfast that was served until 4am every night, ate chicken and waffles at the Waffle House, and grubbed on soul food and sweet tea at This Is It in the Camp Creek plaza.
In actuality, I couldn’t write enough to capture it all. I’d miss the subtle things … like the conversation’s in the lobby until 5am, chess and bid whist games, roller skating in the middle of the dance floor, impromptu lip syncing renditions, $10 foot massages after a long night of partying, awesome vendors, a start-of-the-art hotel, and the incredible hospitality. I had one gripe over the entire weekend, and it was that somehow amazing neo soul artist Julie Dexter performed in the lobby unbeknownst to any of us. JULIE DEXTER performing alone in the lobby … I can’t be the only fan of her music. Speaking of performances, Slique was also on hand performing some of his hits.
Shouts out to: Pete Frazier, the weekend’s MC; Tonya Harris, who handled the audio visual for the weekend; ClubSteppin.com, who broadcasted live; and all of the volunteers that made this event an incredible success. Thanks to the GDI staff for a wonderful weekend, and for always extending the love to ChiStepper.com. I can’t wait until next year!