The festivities for Black Family week ended Sunday with Stomp Fest, an annual stepping competition at UC Davis. The competition between historically African American sororities and fraternities across the state was held at Freeborn Hall.
Stepping is rhythmic foot-stepping, spoken word and hand clapping with or without music. The body is used to produce a beat, though groups may also use props like umbrellas, canes or staffs.
“Stepping has been going on with the African American community since the early 1900s,” said Vernon Bennett, a junior African American and African studies and psychology double major at UC Davis.
Bennett worked to promote Stomp Fest and said he expected about 300 to 400 attendees Sunday.
While Freeborn Hall was not filled to capacity for Stomp Fest, the room was busy with groups stepping in the aisles before the show started. KDVS 90.3 FM DJ Bigg Al Jonson played music for the crowd to dance and step to. Comedian E. Clark was the host of the show and opened by calling out the different sororities and fraternities in the audience.
Alumna Ashley McLemore, who graduated from UC Davis with a degree in sociology, volunteered at Stomp Fest. She said the energy of the crowd is important to the step teams.
“If they [the teams] are feeling it, then the crowd’s going to be feeling it, and that makes them want to give it their all,” McLemore said.
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., a joint sorority from California State University, Long Beach and UCLA, won the Long Beach Step Show in April and came to Davis to compete Sunday.
“Everybody that’s stepping is our competition because we’re trying to win,” said Adriana Gooch, a member of Sigma Gamma Rho, before the show.
Sigma Gamma Rho won first place in the sorority division. Zeta Phi Beta, and Delta Sigma Theta, a team from UC Davis, won second place and third place respectively.
In the fraternity division, Phi Beta Sigma, a team made up of members from California State University, Sacramento and UC Davis, won first place. Second place went to Kappa Alpha Phi, and Iota Phi Theta won third place.
“It felt great,” said Phi Beta Sigma member Alaendu Okiefa about placing first. Okiefa graduated from UC Davis with a degree in exercise biology.
Okiefa said his team has also performed in Sacramento and the Long Beach Step Show, but this is the first time he has placed first in competition. He became involved in stepping because it is a tradition in his fraternity.
“We were one of the first Greek Letter organizations that implemented [stepping] as an art form,” Okiefa said.
Stomp Fest was put on by the National Pan-Hellenic Council. It has been an annual event at UCD for more than 30 years.
MADELINE McCURRY SCHMIDT can be reached at email@example.com.