Kathleen Davis

Chicago Steppin’

Katghleen Davis Headshot.jpg

James Brown - Chicago Steppin’

James Brown - Chicago Steppin’


Kathleen Rose Davis teaches Steppin within the community, organizes small community sets, and is a disc jockey for the dance community.  She has been teaching Steppin since 2008. Along with her dance partner, James Brown, she established a dance organization called the Red Velvet Steppers in 2012.  Her family are immigrants from the Cape Verdean Islands to New Bedford MA where many social clubs were established for adults to continue their dance to Creole Music.  She discovered Steppin, which is a partner dance that is performed to Neosoul, R&B, Jazz, and Hip Hop. This particular dance has its roots in the Lyndi Hop, Bop, Jitterbug, and Swing dance.  Involved in the movement to spread the dance world wide, Kathleen is a facilitator and leader of the movement, a social media hub for Steppin, its music and independent artist exposure, and Steppin Music curator.  Kathleen has traveled extensively to receive training with the dance in different parts of the country learning their instructional language and interpretation of the dance. Training in Chicago and with Chicago instructors, Atlanta, Seattle, California, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Michigan and Nevada. She teaches/has taught classes with 4-6 assistant instructors in Cambridge at MIT and the Cambridge Community Center, YMCA in Brockton, West Roxbury and New Bedford at Cape Verdean social clubs in danger of closing their doors.  She has also been involved in fundraising for scholarships through NAACP and raising awareness of the dance, its origin, and the culture. Professionally she is a Speech and Language Pathologist with a private practice.


A Brief History of Steppin' 
Steppin' originated in the 1930's as the Jitterbug. By the 1960's it was known as the Bop, which evolved into a unique style of its own called Steppin' – in the city of Chicago. Steppin' developed a phenomenal era of its own; it is not just a dance but the addictive aura of music, smooth moves, stylish dress (reminiscent of the 1920s) and the mood of a by-gone era. Steppin’ is truly a hypnotic work of art and captivates people of all ages and ethnic groups. As the saying goes: “Steppin' is a way of life.” 

The suave rhythm of this dance which incorporates gliding, striding and dipping your partner during the 1950's and 1960's eras, to the popular music of young groups – such as the Temptations and other R&B artists – filtrated the African-American community across the United States. From the fashionable clubs (Peps in Philadelphia, Savoy in Chicago, and now at JT's Bourbon St. in Rockford, IL etc.) to the juke joints (speakeasys), Steppin’ – in the guise of the Jitterbug and the Bop – took root and found acceptance in both Black and White communities. 

After the fall of the popular Disco era, the Bop was rejuvenated and became known as Steppin'. The emergence of Steppin’ contests and Steppin' Balls became popular, along with music seemingly reserved for Steppin’. Steppin' swept the nation as a dance that not only depended upon smooth moves and creativity but high fashion (chic dress by both the male and female steppers) to complete its ambiance. Steppin' is as much a part of the African-American community's culture and history as is its music from the early days of Jazz, and Rhythm ‘n Blues up to the current style of Soul and Hip Hop music. 

Steppin is not just a dance, it’s a culture!  Old School culture where men ask ladies to dance and return them to their seats, it’s the understanding that partner dance is a relationship with a lead designing the dance and a follower executing the moves instructed by the lead.  We operate like a family unit does, there are differences of opinions (some stronger opinions than others), we support each group’s events, we welcome in new dancers and help them with the dance, its much different than going out to dance however it is a social dance.  The men will rotate and make sure that they dance with each woman in attendance. They dance for the entire set with some breaks.



Taught by Kathleen Rose Davis & James Brown, Red Velvet Steppers

Participants will be able to demonstrate 8 count basic foundation of the dance and be able to perform simple turns with a partner.  Participants will be given a brief history of Steppin (without a “g”) and the culture and goals of local Steppin Organizations within the community. They will learn the difference between old school and new school routines, freestyle, and various more advanced turns and spins.  Participants will be exposed to music selections from Neosoul, R&B, Jazz, and Hip Hop that they can use for dancing on beat for Steppin.