Someone asked me recently what was I valued most after being in the steppers game for so long. I had to stop and think for a minute: I was one of the first persons to use the phrase ''steppers"; what about "let's go to work"; or maybe "the steppers capital of the world; no maybe "for steppers only".
How about "steppers sharp" or
anointing Jeffree's 'Love Gonna Last', the steppers national anthem.
Then I thought about how many lives of young people stepping have
saved. Let me elaborate: in 1974, I moved from the west side to the
south side. I already had the number one steppers club set every
Friday night at the Keyman's club at 4711 West Madison on the west
I needed a place on the south side to establish a place in my name.
I didn't know the south side at all. I worked for the CTA at the
time, driving on the north and west sides. The first week after I
moved, I drove around looking for a place to hold my sets. I got
lucky. I was driving around south on Michigan Avenue and 109th
street and I saw all of these young people going into the Masonic
Hall. They were having a college affair.
I witnessed at that time, what I thought was the greatest song I've
ever heard. They were dancing the bump to 'The Blackbirds Do It
Fluid'. It blew me away. I waited until the event was over to talk
to the manager. When I told him my name was Sam Chatman, he snapped.
He said his kids went to Harrison High School and that he lived on
the west side. He said that his kids went to my set at the Keyman's
Club every Friday night from 8pm to 2am. More Below
The hall of the Michigan Avenue site was in the basement of the
building. It was dark and looked like a dungeon and that's what I
called it 'the Dungeon on the south side.' I had some of the
greatest steppers in the world. At the Dungeon the steppers took it
to another level. Some of them became legends; Lil Mike, George
Macaroni, Spinning Benny, Pete Frazier, Taboo, Carline, Cent, Ice
On the west side I had; Skip, Bishop Magic Juan, Linda, Pat and
Mary, just to name a few. The Dungeon became so big that the west
siders heard of it. The Keyman's club was even bigger than the
So one Sunday, I told my south side steppers that I wanted to take
them to the west side the following Friday. They said, 'man, we
can't go to the west side.' Most of them were either Disciples or
Blackstone Rangers. On the west side there were Vice Lords and the
Four-Corner Hustlers. I told them that they would not have any
problems because 'you're with me.' They went, I introduced everyone
and the show they put on was off-the-chain.
At the end of the first show, I went outside to insure there
wouldn't be any problems. Remember, these were young people. There
were a group of guys waiting across the street from the club wanting
to peel the heads of the south-siders. I told them we couldn't have
this and that they would be able to come to the south side without
I let them know there wouldn't be any gang banging on Friday nights
at the Keyman's, and no gang banging on Sunday nights at the
Dungeon. The south side leaders and the west side leaders became
friends through stepping. For over 20 years there was never any gang
banging at my steppers sets. There were fights but they were always
Have you ever stopped to think why stepper's sets became a tradition
on Sunday's? In the seventies, the Disco's were packed Mondays
through Saturdays. I picked Sundays because I could get any club,
they were empty. Steppers could disco but Discoers could not step.
Steppers like to get close and they did not like sweating. They were
too cool to sweat.
Most of the steppers sets, back then, were known as thug parties.
Some of the same thugs and gang leaders, you beautiful ladies see
today, you are stepping with right now. Granted they have reformed
and are now model citizens today. I was also shocked to find out
some of the young ladies from the west and south sides married and
had children with guys from both sides of town. I am also proud of
how many children we are responsible for.
Just think, no one was ever shot or killed at any of my steppers
sets. This is what I'm most proud of. Of the sets at McCormick
Place, McCormick Inn o the Pick-Congress, there was never an
incident. Basically what I'm saying is through steppin young Black
Men and women were able to travel on the North, West and South sides
without any gang retaliation simply because of steppin. I wish we
could do that today. Today's high school kids are under so much
pressure that they do not know what fun is. I love music, I love
people and I love being part of the steppers community.
This is one of many stories from DJ Sam Chatman, from the Steppers
Capital of the World.
Ps: because of stepping, I had the chance to meet and hang-out with
the great Ollie Woodson & the Temptations, Marshall and the Chi-Lites,
Smokey Robinson, Babyface and the beautiful Chante Moore. Can you
imagine having the number one weekly steppers set in the Steppers
Capital of the World? Every Monday night at the 50 Yard Line, let's
go to work.
Looking for people who can
tell the story to the nation... I'm still looking for staff from the East coast (Atlanta,
Central Florida, North Carolina), the mid west beyond Chicago (Detroit), the west and mountain states (Nevada,
Arizona) and on the west coast (San Francisco/Oakland and Seattle).
If you take photos -- that's great but it's not necessary (perhaps you
know someone who takes photos at the set -- even with a camera phone) we
are looking to keep the country informed about the world of steppin in
your area. Give me a call or shoot me
Have something on your mind? Need to talk to Markie Bee? With Google
voice (A REAL phone number) you can call me directly (from the United
States only please) For FREE. If I'm available, I'll call you right
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