3-29-2016 Steppers Beat

The West Coast Report
By Samuel Parker The West Coast Report

The 3rd Annual Steppers’ Awards & Celebration Weekend Recap

Written by Samuel Parker on March 29, 2016.

West Coast Steppers’ celebrated the 3rd Annual Steppers’ Awards and the West Coast’s Largest Steppers’ Contest, during the weekend of March 11th-13th, 2016. 

The Steppers’ Awards & Celebration Weekend occurs near the end of the Awards Season for the entertainment industry (i.e. Oscars, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, etc.) and serves very similar purposes.

The Steppers’ events were produced and hosted by Phamily Steppers (Los Angeles); with Keith Hubbard (Chicago) serving as the Master of Ceremonies; and a DJ Roster featuring DJ Myron “The R” Robinson (Chicago), DJ Raven (Las Vegas) and DJ Leon (Los Angeles).

The primary theme of the event is an Awards Ceremony that recognizes several of the people and organizations that make Steppin’ a rewarding experience for people who live and attend Steppin’ activities on the West Coast. While most awards presentations are only a short segment of a Steppin’ event, Phamily Steppers has organized an entire theme around acknowledging and recognizing “the People’s Choices” in several Awards Categories.

The major activities included a casual Friday Night “Meet & Greet” at the Lynwood Senior Community Center in Lynwood, California. With over $2000 in prizes hanging in the balance, several couples danced in the “Preliminary Rounds” of the West Coast’s Largest Steppers’ Contest. The Contest Prelims were judged by 3 former competitors from the World’s Largest Steppin Contest in Chicago. They were: Ms. Angie Faine (Chief Judge), Mr. Iary Israel (Kat in the Hat), and Mr. Carlton Puckett. After several entertaining rounds of Steppin’, the judges adjourned, applied the published judging criterion, and calculated their scores from the performances. Although several couples put on very entertaining performances, the published rules only allowed three couples to advance to the Finals.

The crowd was treated to an eventful evening full of food, fun, and Steppin’ with a great crew of DJ talent pumping out solid sounds that took us up, and slowed us down. They took us back-in-the-day, and brought us forward to recent stuff. People dancing all over the building and even non-dancers were sitting in their chairs patting their feet and doing that head-bobbing thing as they watched Steppers do what we do. The great mix (of people who Step, people who love watching Steppers, and people who love being around positive energy) created a buzz of excitement that was building throughout the evening. Consequently, the floor stayed packed until the final song was played - and the crowd seemed to hang around until the speakers were being unplugged. As the pictures from the event will suggest, this “Sold-Out event was no ordinary occasion – in several respects. And, it was an omen for the main event.

The Saturday evening main event started early at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, in Cerritos, CA. Even the impressive grandeur of the facility did not outshine the Steppers that evening. With several bystanders watching in wonder, Steppers “arrived” at the “Blue Carpet Reception” (that actually had Blue Carpet) with professional photographers snapping portrait-quality photos of every guest who passed onto the “Blue” runway into the event. As guests entered thru the double doors of the cavernous event room and down the path of stations and Royal Blue ropes, they were greeted by hostesses that escorted them to their tables. The DJs were serving up pre-dinner Steppin’ music as guest entered and began to socialize and dance, prior to being served a three course dinner. (I’m told that the Salmon was “to-die-for). During this time, the judges assembled for the Finals of the West Coast’s Largest Steppers’ Contest. The Prelim Judges were joined by two more World’s Largest winners: Mr. Damone Hodges (2009) and Ms. Lauren La Grone (2015). The Finalists were warmly received and performed to the excitement of the crowd – with photographers and videographers following every move. ( There are several unofficial videos of the contest on Youtube and elsewhere. An official version will be available.)

The well-known and established Steppin’ Artist, Singer/Songwriter “Cardell” (Harrington) introduced the audience to Singer/Entertainer, Ms. Mary Wright. She became yet another example of up and coming Steppin’ musical talent as she delighted the audience with two of her current releases: the soulful and sweeping “Don’t Hurt The Heart”, and the more upbeat “Count On Me” ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ojz9UCnFL8 ).

The headline feature, the Steppers Awards, proceeded with the announcement of the Humanitarian Award. The recipient of this award is selected by the Phamily Steppers’ Board of Directors for being an example of the Spirit of the Steppin’ Community. The Class of 2015 recipient is Mr. Johnny Seltzer, who is receiving the award posthumously – after making his transition earlier this year. The award was accepted by his daughter, Ms. Denekia Seltzer.

The Nominations for the Steppers Awards are conducted each year from December 1st thru 31st, when West Coast Steppers are asked to submit the names of their favorite (1) Steppin’ DJ’s, (2) Steppin’ Promoters/Events, and (3) Steppin’ Images/Producers. The top Nominees, in each category, are then placed on a Final Ballot and published by Phamily Steppers. The Official Voting period was from January 7th, thru January 31st, 2016. The results of the Voting are announced at the Annual Steppers’ Award. These are the people’s choices.

The Awardees of the Steppers’ Awards, for the Class of 2015, are: (in alphabetical order)

DJs Category: DJ Alisha (Oakland), DJ Mike (Inland Empire), and DJ Raven (Las Vegas)

Steppin’ Promoters/Events: Harlem Nights (A Step Ahead Entertainment – Inland Empire), Steppin 4A Dream (Steppin’ 4A Dream Team – Los Angeles), and Steppin’ in Colors of Sunset (One Step Promotions – Phoenix)

Steppin’ Image Producers: Dennis L. Moore (for Photographs – MooreShootU – Los Angeles), Elvin L. Anderson (for Photographs – Ejr Photography – Phoenix), and One Step Promotions (for Advertisement - Steppin’ in Colors of Sunset - Phoenix).

The Winners of the West Coasts’ Largest Steppers’ Contest are:
First Place – Dedrick (Showtyme) Varnado & Yvonne (Mariposa) Rodgers (Los Angeles)
Second Place – Tony Hearn & Valerie Sims (Las Vegas)

Phamily Steppers also acknowledged Keith Hubbard as the Master of Ceremonies and for his outstanding, ongoing, and exemplary commitment and dedication to Steppin’ on the West Coast.

The final expression of gratitude went to “the First Lady”, Ms. Laneia Smith-Parker, for her tireless work in giving the event a certain “umph!”, for exceptional hospitality, and (masterful toleration and management of her husband).

At the closing of the Awards Ceremony, Keith Hubbard and the DJ Myron “The R” Robinson took the party into Warp Drive. Yeah, …they did it again!! Steppers hit the floor for the remainder of the evening, congratulating the Awardees and Winners, and engaging in a genuine sense of social and cultural Celebration. There are even rumors of an “After Party”…. (you just gotta love Steppers).

On Sunday, Steppers returned to the Lynwood Senior Community Center for the “Cool Down” and “Farewell” Set. However, as the party kicked into gear with ample supplies of food, the DJs serving up mixes and music, and Keith Hubbard on the Mic, ……, more than one flight got rescheduled. (again, you just gotta love Steppers). The cooling down and the farewells didn’t really happen….until the speakers were being unplugged, the clean-up crew was taking down decorations, and the security guards were holding the doors open to let everybody out. If I haven’t said it before - We just love Steppers! Thank You. Let’s do it again…. next year!

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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