November 23, 6:30 p.m. L Bar & Lounge, Harlem.
Stepping is a big part of black culture in Marty Majeske’s hometown of Chicago. The dance is a complex eight-count that evolved from the jitterbug of the Thirties; its devotees often observe a style of dress and an elaborate code of dancefloor etiquette reminiscent of that era. But Majeske never got serious about it until moving to New York City, where it’s less popular in the nightlife: While stepping is usually set to slow r&b, the clubs in New York favored hip- hop, house, or dancehall. For a little while, he took lessons with a group of dancers who would visit New York to host step workshops. But ultimately they stopped coming, “so we had to either let it go or decide to keep it going for ourselves,” Majeske said.
In 2007 he launched the “Chicago Style” Steppers, weekly sessions in Brooklyn or Harlem: The first hour is given to teaching, the rest dedicated to dancing. The Steppher also travel the country and throw a yearly summertime event that welcomes out-of-towners. The regular come to enjoy one another’s company, especially in a big city where it’s easy to feel lost in the shuffle. “You just enjoy [that moment] when that light goes on and people say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know I could dance. I have something to look forward to and be part of a community,’ ” he told the Voice.
“It comes down to the music itself. The soul, the rhythm and blues,” says founder Marty Majeske.
Text by William E. Ketchum III; Photography by Dina Litovsky for the Village Voice