Part 1: The Genesis
It began with singing. Brothers would gather
in the quad and sing. They eventually
graduated to dancing and from there
stepping. You can go to some yards down
south and they call it a "Sing" instead of a
"Step-show". The white fraternities started
the singing part, but the black fraternities
took it to another level. Much like we did
with basketball and football. I don't think
that any one fraternity can lay claim to
stepping, more than likely it evolved. One
thing I do know was that the Sigmas and the
Omegas were the first to do it. Sororities
didn't start stepping until several years after
SOURCE: Brother Terrence A.B. Lewis
"BadStep" Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
Part 2: The
Stepping began with groups of guys singing
acappella, and when groups like the
Temptations and the Four Tops were
popular in the 50's and 60's brothers started
mimicking their steps. This was how
stepping evolved. This is why it is called
"Stepping" now. Brothers would try to come
up with the best steps while they were
singing to please the ladies. If you got the
ladies you got more recruits. Much like it is
Others say that stepping replaced the doo
woop sounds and cardigan sweaters of the
50's. At around the same time as the "Black
Power" Movements and Africa centered
movements of the 60's, stepping started to
flourish with the incorporation of some
traditional African ritual dancing and the
incorporation of other elements like cheer
leading, tap, gymnastics, etc. Over the years
stepping has become very intricate and
demanding incorporating props, high levels
of gymnastics and other elements found in
team sports. Please note that some people
want to give the credit to the South African
Boot Dance, but it would be unfair to ignore
everything that stepping was in the
beginning and it is now.
Stepping is an original art form that was
influence by many elements from our past.
SOURCE: Various Brothers
Part 3: Sigma
Phi Beta Sigma stepping evolved even more
with the contributions of Bro. Kwame
Nkrumah of Ghana. He introduced certain
steps from his traditional African culture
which used dance as a celebration of
"coming of age". The coming of age
ceremonies, or rites of passage, are when a
young man comes into manhood. This is
intimately tied to the pledge process which
is itself Masonic & Afro-centric in origin
and method. The cane was used by Bro.
Nkrumah in his stepping ritual. Stepping is
supposed to be done as a celebration of
"crossing", or "going over", or "coming into
manhood". From this brothers began to
create and build. Over the years Sigmas
have been known for numerous unique and
These steps are:
"The Sigma "Nut-Cracker"
"The Passage" a.k.a. "The African Step"
"Hands and Feet"
"The Cotton Club"
"Up Jumped the Devil"
"The Blindfold Step" (with or without cane)