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Stepping is an urban dance that continues to evolve defining its unique style and culture within the context of mainstream Swing dance. Stepping has gained popularity, particularly but not limited to the urban neighborhoods of America. Stepping makes reference to other urban styles of dance found throughout the United States larger enclaves in cities such as Detroit, Cleveland, Baltimore and Washington, DC.
In these and other cities one will find very similar customs and cultures accenting local dance movements that are very similar to movements of the Lindy Hop, West Coast Swing, Jitterbug and the Shag, just to name a few. Each city bears its own name such as the Bop, Hustle or Swingout. Although unique to its own style, customs and accents the basic structure involves the movement of triple steps, rock steps and anchors with the lead and follower synchronizing their steps in a complementary manner.
Stepping, or steppin' as it is affectionately known has it roots imbedded in the traditional dance movements of its predecessors such as the Texas Tommy,and Bunny Hug. Historians have noted that the early dance movements of Jive dances laid a superb foundation for elements of dance to be shared and improvised over a period of time. However, the history extends as far back as the predecessor of modern American music, Ragtime, which documents the polyrhythm movements and sounds of its heyday. Ragtime was not only a unique music form, it was a dance as well. Ragtime was a play on John Phillip Sousa's music, combining improvisation and syncopation in between to draw upon melodic themes and percussions. The end result was a richer melodic sound that was well received by local patrons as well as those abroad who would hear the new sounds coming from traveling musicians and dancers on the Vaudeville circuit. The swing dance known as Steppin’ is a part of the WESTERN SWING family the parent dance “Chicago Bop” may have been more EASTERN SWING but Steppin’ has characteristic more towards the west; especially its usage of a lane or slot. Steppin’ has a 6-count basic pattern. This is equal to 1 ½ measures of music in 4/4. Its tempo ranges 70 to 100 Bpm. Its basic rhythm pattern consists of a double and two syncopated triples. The patterns start traditionally on the downbeat of one. The leader’s footwork is normally started on their left and finished on their right. The follower dances natural opposites. Steppin’ is danced with a lane or slot. Take inconsideration the term “Bop” was used to describe the dance form by Chicagoans until the early 1970’s. Prior to that time “Bop” was the known term and its origin in began sometime between 1945 and 1950 to express music and dance. The dance known as Chicago Steppin’ was Bop and is more likely a derivative of Jitterbug. No published syllabuses exist for the dance.
Disco and the Chicago Step 
Even with the onset of Disco music, there was still a strong contingent that would still Bop (now called Step) to any kind of music. Stepping didn't gain a real foothold until local station WBMX (102.7FM/1390AM) started playing two particular records by artist Jeffree, "Love's Gonna Last", and "Mr. Fix-It" in the mid to late 1970s. Neither song was a major Billboard R&B chart hit ("Mr. Fix-It" made it to number 53, "Love's Gonna Last" didn't chart) but they perfectly complemented the newest version of the Chicago Step. In a classic case of a dance making a record a (local) hit, due to the massive request and playing of "Love's Gonna Last" on WBMX, it is now considered the ultimate "stepper's cut".
Steppin' has gained global popularity particularly in the African American and Indian community social and nightclub scene. Individuals come from all over the world to Chicago in the hopes of learning Steppin' in one of the largest dance fest held in the United States called Chicago Summer Dance. Steppin has gained an increased visibility in media and entertainment mediums with recent R&B videos featuring local Chicago dancers. R&B crooners have been highly successful starting with R. Kelly's "Step in the Name of Love" and Happy People, and Gerald LeVert's "Didn't We?", the nation has gotten a taste of the steppers style. Additionally, movies such as "Love Jones (film)" (which depicts an event formerly hosted by local Chicago DJ Herb Kent, known as "The World's Largest Steppers Contest") hosted by Pete Frasier of the Magestic Gents, brought the dance and culture to the big screen. Steppin' is usually coordinated into events called "Stepper's Sets". Some of most stand out instructors of today for the dance are Halacy Kurenski, Mistalocks and Catherina Brown. In Chicago, Halacy (a.k.a A. J. Sparks) has been labeled the "Hot Stepper" for bringing the dance from Chicago to Las Vegas. Mistalocks currently residing in Detroit, has been labeled the "viral stepper" due to his Youtube videos of him giving Steppin demos on how to step and what type of music appropriate for the dance. His website Mistalocks.com caters to urban dance culture. In Seattle, Catherina Brown of Styles of Steppin' is the instructor to look for. Their website is stylesofsteppinseattle.com
Regional Variations of Steppin 
Other parts of the USA have adopted Steppin(g) as their own. One city that mastered the dance form is Detroit. Other cities that have also done the same is Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Columbus, Akron, Miami, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Toledo. The bulk of Chicago Style Steppers are using a six beat pattern counted to music in 4/4. The dance has many improper teaching methods city to city, but it proper count historically is six. The lack of formal teaching structure based on proper music and dance theory plagues all the communities and lead to a student failure rate that is about 60%. Yes, 4 out 10 students that study steppin(g) understand the dance completely.
Culture of Stepping 
Stepping' is not just a dance, it encompasses a style of dress as well as music. As R. Kelly states in his number-1 hit, "Step in the Name of Love":
"...stepping is not just a dance, it's a culture...it's what we eat, think, and breathe..."