Kappa Alpha Psi contest in Gary looks for ‘next generation of steppers’

Trea Lasha (from left) and Brandon Adkins won first in the 2018 Roland “Bo” Watson Red Steppers Affair stepping contest. James Harris, treasurer of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity’s Gary Alumni Chapter, and event coordinator Tony Stidman presented the prizes. (Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity)

Roland “Bo” Watson Red Steppers Affair may be more than a week away but time is running out for those who want to enter the event’s stepping contest in Gary.

June 1 is the deadline for people who want to try to win some of the $2,000 in cash and prizes involved in the third annual Chicago-style stepping contest emceed by “The Ambassador” Kevin Nevels with music by DJ Cross. Entry is $50 per couple.

“We’re looking for some people that are interested in being in the contest — anyone that hasn’t won World’s Largest, which is the biggest stepping contest in the U.S.,” said Tony “Grown Folks” Stidman, promoter and organizer of the 12th annual Roland “Bo” Watson Red Steppers Affair.

“All the major competitors participate in World’s Largest. What we’re doing is trying to find the next generation of steppers.”

Members of the Gary Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, which hosts Roland “Bo” Watson Red Steppers Affair June 8 at Genesis Convention Center, may not enter the stepping contest, which draws people from several states.

The 2018 competition saw Brandon Adkins from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Trea Lasha of Dallas take first; Marcus Reynolds and Opal Jones, both from Chicago, take second; and Karron Louris from Pontiac, Michigan, and April Simmons from Cincinnati take third.

“We’re going to start the event an hour early because some of our guests come early. Also, we want to give more opportunities to dance before we start the contest,” said Stidman of Gary.

Roland “Bo” Watson Red Steppers Affair kicks off with open dance for approximately two hours followed by a moment of silence for the event’s late namesake, a lifelong Kappa Alpha Psi member whom Stidman said decided to have the steppers event 12 years ago, and the late Michael Cornell, who won first place in the steppers contest in 2017.

The event also includes a birthday dance and a new Divine 9 Chicago Style Steppin’ Showcase featuring participants from Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Sigma Gamma Rho and Zeta Phi Beta sororities and Alpha Phi Alpha, Iota Phi Theta, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi and Phi Beta Sigma fraternities.

“Everyone is going to wear a shirt representing their organization. We’re going to do Chicago-style stepping to showcase their skills also,” said Stidman, who has been a member of the Gary Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi for 20 years.

Open dance for another hour or two is offered toward the end of the evening.

“I enjoy the interaction with other fellow steppers across the nation,” Stidman said.

“Chicago-style stepping is similar to ballroom dancing. It’s not exactly the same but couples dance together. Chicago-style stepping branched out nationwide as Chicagoans started to move to other cities. Now it’s a nationwide dance.”

“We’re actually heavily involved in our community nationwide. Some of the proceeds will be going toward scholarships for seniors that are going to college,” Stidman said.

Roland ‘Bo’ Watson Red Steppers Affair

When: 7 p.m.-1 a.m. June 8

Where: Genesis Convention Center, 1 Genesis Center Plaza, Gary

Tickets: $15 in advance; $20 at door

Information: 219-730-2825; www.facebook.com/events/415728182317981