3-21-2016 Steppers Beat

The West Coast Report
By Samuel Parker The West Coast Report

R.E.S.P.E.C.T For The House That Jack Built

Written by Samuel Parker on March 21, 2016.

This writing presents a question to the culture of our community, regarding "R.E.S.P.E.C.T.". I am asking for the perspectives of the legends of the dance, promoters of the dance, and the community in general. The question is, whether legends of the dance should expect to be admitted to Steppin' events - free of charge?

I confess that I don't understand the origin of an expectation of some Steppers who assert that "I don't pay to come to Steppin' events or sets." Perhaps naively, I thought that "Legends of the Dance" would also be the "leading" supporters and advocates of Steppin' activities and events, rather than having a parasitical relationship toward them.

Perhaps someone will educate me. I'd really like to understand. So here is what my current understanding is based upon. (You can drop me a line at: PhamilySteppers@gmail.com )

In my cultural and fraternal communities and experiences, there are, and have always been certain people who are entitled to titular respect and considerations as VIPs (Very Important People). Whenever a VIP arrives at your door, the question arises about "how" to properly receive that VIP. In church, fraternal, and political cultures - I would consult the "receiving protocols". In the Steppin' culture, however, what is the proper procedure and reasonable expectation for receiving VIPs (who come thru the front door)?

In my ecclesiastical experience, in the culture of the Bible (John 10:1), Jesus says that "Verily, verily I say unto you, he that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber." I understand that to mean that, if a man enters a Steppin' Set or event by some other method than thru the doors that the promoter/organizer has established to receive guests (i.e. the front door or registration table)..............that breach hints at a character issue (or an honest mistake/misunderstanding).

Now, switching to my R & B experience, in the Book of Aretha Franklin, from the Chapter entitled "The House That Jack Built". All of the verses/lyrics lead me to an interpretation that "Jack" is like every promoter/organizer who works the land and dreams up a plan and way to create a space/place for Steppers to come to enjoy and participate in our dance. That is "The House the Jack Built". Remember that house....... Remember (listen to) how Aretha sang about what happened to that house/relationship (built by an upright man).

From my fraternal and family experiences, I understand that every house has a master. When visitors come, especially by invitation, to an opening of that house, they honor and respect that house (and the master of it) by entering the house (that Jack built) - at the established door.

If the master of that house recognizes a VIP or (grand) master of another house (i.e. Legend of the Steppin' community), "Jack" can then determine "how" to receive that Legend/VIP. Based upon Jack's resources, he can determine "how to accommodate" that VIP. Also, based upon the availability of Jack's resources and the planned arrangement of "his house" he can reciprocate the honor and respect that the VIP has brought to his house. It can be discomforting to discover (at the end of your service/set) that your grandfather, your Bishop/Imam, your Steppin' mentor/idol was among your guests - and you never had an opportunity to say welcome, or share your respect for them.

If a VIP arrives, "un-announced", at a set or event and declares that they "don't pay to come to Steppin' events or sets" - is it disrespectful for Jack to decline their entry? Is it disrespectful for the bishop to walk into your church (during the middle of a sermon/service) and demand or expect a right to be seated at the head-of-the-table and to finish the days sermon?

I have assumed that the traditional "receiving protocols" of my fraternity (and the church that I was raised in) were based on a mutual respect to Jack, and the resources and accommodations of "The House That Jack Built." Further, I understood a wisdom in Proverbs 25:7 (For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.), to allow Jack to keep order in the accounting of the resources in his house.

As a promoter/organizer of a small Steppin’ event, I am honored by many of the men and women who have insisted on purchasing tickets to our events, and have made donations, because they support our mission and enjoy the quality of our productions. I’m also honored to be able to extend admission to several of the legends that I have a relationship with and understand their contributions to the community that makes our events possible. They help build and secure the hill, where Jack’s house is built. We welcome actual legends, who come thru the front door, who respectfully share in our mission and….. Remember the House That Jack Built.

SteppersUSA is  looking for people who can tell the story to the nation...
I'm looking for staff from Chicago, the East coast (Atlanta, Central Florida, North Carolina), the mid west beyond & including Chicago (Detroit), the west 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.  Shoot me an email!

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