Barry Parker and Kathy Holloway dance during the Chicago-style steppin' class Holloway teaches at the Pruzin Community Center in Merrillville, Ind. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
At a glance
◆ Chicago-style steppin’ class
◆ 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays
◆ Pruzin Community Center, 5750 Tyler St.,
◆ Six-week sessions and are $10 per class ($10 discount if the entire session is paid for upfront).
◆ For more information, call the Merrillville Parks
and Recreation Department, 980-5911.
Updated: February 11, 2013 1:59AM
Students in Kathy Holloway’s Chicago-style steppin’ class were casually dressed and, for the most part, without partners recently as they practiced their new dance moves in front of a large mirror lining one wall at the Pruzin Community Center in Merrillville.
They all counted out loud — one, two, three, up to eight — as they practiced their fancy footwork to the music.
“I tell the students to dance like no one’s watching,” said Holloway, a Merrillville resident who teaches the class on Monday nights through the Merrillville Parks and Recreation Department.
But when the students step out to one of the local banquet halls, like the Genesis Convention Center in Gary or the 50-Yard Line in Chicago, to put their new dance steps to use, they won’t mind if they stand out in the crowd.
“They’ll be dressed to the nines and with a dancing partner who will step right in line with them and glide them along in graceful movement,” Holloway said.
Holloway described Chicago-style steppin’ as urban ballroom dancing done to the rhythm of classic Motown, rhythm and blues, jazz and even some rock music (they were dancing to Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”), but not hip hop. She said it is similar to bopping in the 1970s and ’80s, but instead of being choppy with the woman starting with the right foot, steppin’ is more graceful and the woman starts with the left foot.
The dance itself involves a lot of foot movement, done to a count of eight.
“Stepping is very classy, very graceful, and it’s Kathy’s passion; she’s mastered the art of teaching it,” said Debbie Brown, a Merrillville resident and Holloway’s teaching assistant.
Holloway said students learns the basic eight-count foot movement, then they make it their own.
“I tell them to give it attitude, make it fun,” she said. “As long as you stay on the basics, I don’t care what your partner does; it’s all good.”
Kim Reynolds of Gary said learning Chicago-style steppin’ was one of her goals. Although just in her fifth class, she learned a new double turn quickly.
“When you do it by yourself you work harder, but when you’re with a partner, they just glide you along,” Reynolds said. “I love this.”
Steppin’ isn’t just for women, however. Barry Parker and John Smith are instructors who were on hand to dance with the women.
“I started bopping in the 1960s and steppin’ in 2000. With steppin’, you move smoothly, working from the waist down,” said Parker, who moved in perfect harmony while dancing with students and teachers.
“I’ve been doing this all my life; I’m a born dancer,” said Smith, who teaches dance at Gary’s Hudson-Campbell Fitness Center.