12/19/2013 Veronica Solomon Stepper's Report


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Veronica Solomon Stepper's Report

Ken Bedford[4/9/2014 Veronica Solomon Stepper's Report]
Dru Smith - Not an Epilogue
By Veronica Solomon (#floridasteppersreport)
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Contact Veronica Solomon: ilove2step@facebook.com

From the Red and Black Affair to Home Going -- When Andrew "Dru" White Smith died we were not speaking. We hadn't spoken in about two years. The cause of our fallout is unimportant. It had nothing to do with the normal trappings of folks who fall out on the steppin' scene.

Honestly, it was over some local bullshit. But one night while hanging out at the VFW which is our steppin' spot on Thursday's, Dru approached me with a broad smile and a warm glow. He came upon me humble and true. He handed me a flyer for the 2014 Red and Black Affair. I didn't smile back but I did take the flyer. As he moved on to the next table I rested the flyer on a small pool of sweat that had formed from my glass of iced diet coke. The flyer became limp and lifeless as it absorbed the liquid. It was our last personal encounter.

I attended the Red and Black Affair as I did every year. The thought of mourning the loss of Dru, our Dru had never crossed my mind. As the news of his passing began to take shape, social media was on fire. I woke up to profile pictures taking on the likeness of Dru's smile. Shorty Smooth posted how his tears were taking over his face as he sat next to a stranger on a flight to Fort Lauderdale to DJ our annual event, the Red and Black Affair. The notion that Dru would be no longer with us didn't strike me at first. He had succumbed to his illness during the early morning hours of the Red and Black Affair weekend.
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The Meet and Greet was to kick-off that same night. How crazy was that, but we would pull through it. It was clear to me as the weekend progressed whether in life or in spirit Dru was going to make sure we had a good time. The event was filled with testimonies and reflections. We was in the vain of fulfilling the dream of honoring the man whose organization The Stylistic Steppers and who was partnered with Maria Cephas, took over the Red and Black Affair and made it pop.

The weekend was chock-full of entertainment. We had Res, Christopher Williams, and Carmichael. Christopher Williams paid homage to a man he only spoke to on the phone once. He said that Dru's good spirit resonated with him. The music was on point. DJ Shorty Smooth and Rodney Mack kept the dance floor packed and our emcee for the weekend Pete Frazier had the event flowing downstream.

For me and on a personal note, it looked odd not having Dru by Pete's side. It was like a missing twin. The local steppin' community showed up. It was an interesting mix of old and new steppers. There were steppers at the Red and Black Affair that I hadn't seen in years. What a reunion. How about that? We laughed about the man who was so particular about the 123, 456,78. Dru made sure you got that. The Red and Black Affair was somber. The steppers made attempts and I mean major efforts to get through what was a most difficult time. And for us locals, we still had a funeral to attend.

Homegoing services are always tough. The following weekend shifted the entire flow of the Red and Black Affair and now we was pushing up stream. Dru was being laid to rest and there wasn't a thing anybody could do about it. April Smith, his wife, life partner and friend had the daunting task of burying her husband. I'm not sure as to how long they had been married but I know for a fact it wasn't very long. She stood proud and strong throughout the Red and Black Affair weekend and now she had to have her back straight through this.

Dru was sharp, stepper sharp. He was relaxing in red and black wing tips that were shining like polished silver. But the reality of it all was that he was her husband of no more. Our steppin' instructor who at one time lead me through dances with so much ease left me with the pain of knowing that we would dance no more. It is hard to describe the pain I felt when I saw him lying there, lifeless and breathless but I knew he was a man of great stature and goodness. Despite our falling out, I knew who he was and what he represented. So, in my personal head space, as I looked down upon him I became aware in that moment that all was well. His funeral service was a God filled show. It was a show of support for his wife and family. The respects being paid to the man that breathed steppin' into South Florida was notable.

Andrew "Dru" White Smith, the man I knew as a teacher of steppin' was in a place of no more suffering. In contemporary terms, what was trending over Dru's Homegoing was his beautiful light, his love for the dance, and his love of God. I asked Ms. Mary from TWSGA who attended his services from Atlanta to describe Dru in a word, and that word was Life, "he lived his life to the fullest" she said. I and we in the South Florida steppin' community have experienced a great loss. His presence is going to be missed in body but most important he will be remembered. Steppin in the Fort Lauderdale and Miami area will never be the same. The mark he left us with isn't an unsightly scar but a beautiful tattoo marked and inked forever.
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Dru Smith - Not an Epilogue

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