With every Long Beach Step Show comes a new theme. This year, performers will “step towards the future.”
The National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), collectively known as “The Divine Nine,” will compete at the Walter Pyramid Saturday, Feb. 29 for the 26th biannual Long Beach Step Show, one of the largest student-led step shows on the West Coast.
Every step show tells a story through the performers’ bodies. Proceeding shows build on previous storytelling through its respective themes. In 2018, the show centered around the ‘90s dance revolution, but this year’s show, “Stepping towards the future,” embraces what’s to come.
“It’s continuing tradition as far as taking eras and looking at perspectives,” said Essence Moore, co-chair for the Long Beach Step Show. “This [show] is about moving forward.”
The Black Greeks of the CSULB chapter of the NPHC began the Long Beach Step Show 26 years ago, but the tradition is kept alive with the dedication of student-led organizations.
Moore said the additional pressure stems from the historical significance and presence the step show has in the Black Greek community. It’s all about keeping the legacy the NPHC were given afloat.
Prior to the upcoming show, chapters have been practicing five times a week to prepare for the event.
“Stepping is all about sound,” said Amara Mitchell of the Gamma Kappa Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. “You have to listen if it sounds right. If you have 10 people on stage, they could all be doing the same step. They can be complete trash. They could be all on different rhythms. People might be doing different stuff early, they could be doing the same thing late.”
In the book “Soulstepping: Folk Roots,” scholar and author Elizabeth Fine writes,“Stepping is a complex performance that melds folk traditions with popular culture and involves synchronized percussive movement, singing, speaking, chanting, and drama.”
Gladis Lopez, interim coordinator of student life and development, helped coordinate the event for the first time. She said that despite the extensive planning, nothing could truly prepare someone for a step show on this scale.
The Divine Nine is comprised of five fraternities and four sororities, including the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, that dates back to 1906. Mitchell said that a majority of the organizations began at Howard University, an accredited historically black college or university.
Lopez said many of the council members became involved at a young age because CSULB gives opportunities to high school students to visit campus and see what college life can be.
“The Long Beach Step show gives the campus the opportunity to highlight and celebrate the African American community on campus and in the broader community and the rich traditions of our historically African American Fraternities and Sororities,” Trace Camacho, director of student life and development, said via email.
The Long Beach Step Show will take place at the Walter Pyramid Saturday, Feb. 29. The event begins at 2 p.m. and doors open at 1 p.m. Tickets start at $25 for CSULB students, staff, faculty and student groups and $35 general admission. They can be purchased online at LongBeachState.com/StepShow.