Arts & Life, Events

‘It’s like a family reunion,’ CSULB’s 26th Annual Step Show boosts community and culture

The determined stares of Zeta Phi Beta sisters bore into the crowd as members of the sorority stomped their feet in unison. Suddenly, they clapped their hands under their knees, sending a sharp pop bouncing off the walls of the pyramid.

The thunderous sounds created by synchronous hands and feet livened the audience who grew louder during impressive moments in the choreography. Then, the warrior-themed women of Zeta Phi Beta formed a line and lifted their legs to rest it on their neighbor’s back. 

Despite the slight trembles of their ankles, the women held their positions while their Zeta Phi Beta sisters stood from their seats and cheered them on.

Hundreds of people attended Long Beach State’s 26th Annual Step Show, Feb. 29, at the Walter Pyramid to watch the National Pan-Hellenic Council, collectively known as “The Divine Nine,” compete in the largest student-led step show on the West coast. 

“It’s like a family reunion at Long Beach Step Show,” DJ Dashwan “Mr. Quick” Evins said to the audience. “This is how we show pride, camaraderie.”

Evins, who has DJ’ed for the CSULB Step Show for 26 years, is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha and explained that step promotes higher education. 

“It’s a way for us to enhance our community and our culture,” Evins said. “We inspire our young people sitting there that wouldn’t have the opportunity.” 

The theme, “Stepping towards the future,” was incorporated into performances like Zeta Phi Beta’s who stepped as Wakandan warriors from the film “Black Panther.” Their costumes, much like the film,  displayed futuristic themes. 

Dontay Carter, a CSULB alumnus and member of Alpha Phi Alpha, sat to catch his breath after his performance with his fraternity. The routine took countless hours of preparation, according to Carter, and incorporated youth steppers and sounds of an intergalactic space battle, much to the crowd’s delight. 

“We teach [youth steppers] the fundamentals of stepping,” Carter said. “The crowd loved them more than us.”

The Challengers Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles was one of the youth groups in attendance at the show. It came out not only to represent the future of step but to show youth what step can do in their lives. 

It was exactly what coach Michelle Tillis wanted for her team, the Franklin Wildcat Steppers.

“This is big,” Tillis said. “It means everything that they’re here at such a young age.” 

Tillis started the step team at Franklin Middle School with the help of a colleague. While the girls keep up with their grades, Tillis teaches them about self-esteem. 

As the crowd on the floor danced during intermission, people of all ages from different Greek sororities and fraternities came together. Friends and family formed a train, showing off their moves as others cheered them on. After a moment of hesitation, the Franklin Wildcat Steppers joined. 

Zeta Phi Beta member Ayanna Tweedy still wore her royal blue costume as she took in the scene. 

“This is Greek unity,” Tweedy said. “If we don’t find community here, we won’t be able to show [it] out there.”

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