Summer Steppin'

Steppin originated in Chicago's African American community as a dance formerly referred to as the BOP, a smooth calm dance of striding, gliding, dipping, and dabbing to music by popular African American big bands and singing groups during the late 50's and early 60's. Events were hosted at places like Chicago's Savoy, The Club Delisa, The Time square, The Checkerboard, etc.

There were also the famous Rent, Quarter, Waist-line, or Basement parties on a smaller neighborhood scale. There were two select groups of Chicago Boppers in the late 50's and early 60's, who most would agree to be the forerunners of Steppin. They were called *Gousters and Ivy Leaguers: young African Americans from Chicago's West and Southside communities, separated only by fashion and style of dance. Gousters were cool and suave with an adopted style of fashion from the notorious Gangsters of the 40's and 50's,ie., baggy suits (think Zoot) and pleated pants, and were cool, calm, and collective.

Ivy Leaquers were prep school types, the college look, stove pipe pants, crew cuts, knit shirts, Harvard, Yale, or Princeton prototypes. The BOP was the most popular dance in Chicago; often sharing the popularity spotlight with individual dances like the Twist, The Monkey, The Mash Potatoes, The Twine Time, etc.. It also had The Walk, a slowed down version of The Bop. The intimate side of things, truly one of the most graceful aspects of Steppin one could ever witness and many around Chicago say actually existed before the Bop. The fact of the matter is, the Walk remain a major part of Chicago Steppin and continue to exist as the intimate aspect of the dance. The BOP remained popular through-out the 60's up until the Viet Nam War and the invasion of Love, Peace, Flower Power, and the Mod era.

In addition, public protest, the advancing forces of the civil rights movement, and racial tensions surfaced around the country that helped force African American dance and music to take drastic changes throughout the community. Songs reflected the times, the War, Civil Rights, Revolution or Protest rather than dancing. It was in fact fashionable and popular to listen to music rather than dance.This followed by the threat of revolution by so-called Black Militants, the sexaul revolution, intergration, and politics pushed The Bop deep into African American neighborhoods where it existed as a mere shadow but continued to survive up until it resurfaced in popularity during the mid 70's.

It returned with a faster pace and a more entertaining presence. It had to in order to contend with the presence of the Disco invasion. In the late 70's, when Disco took a sudden fall in popularity and individual dance like the Spank, The Dazz, etc. dominated the social arena, the bop again fell deep within the shadows of the African American social atmosphere. This time it lasted well up into the 80's when the Bop got a face lift, a new identity and a new name currently known as Steppin.
It had a new sound of music reserved solely for Steppin, a new identity, high fashion wear, a smooth beat, and a cool and smoothness about it like never before.

The African American community quickly adopted Steppin as tradition and cultural history much like the Blues, Jazz, and R&B. In reference to its history, and with the rise in popularity at clubs like the infamous Mr Ricky's Chic Ric's, Steppin and Steppers were immediately embraced as the social elite. Steppin swept Chicago's African American social scene with a fury that has lasted for decades; never failing to change with the music and times or be faced with the threat of slipping back into the shadows of African American social life. It is in fact a dance of changing music and times with a deep history that seems to survive where other dance forms failed. When we look at Steppin, we see fashions from rag time up until today; when we listen to it, we hear music from big band days up until rapp artist and contemporary artist of today; when we perform it, we move with the grace of the Swing, The Jitterbug, The Walk, and the Bop; when we feel it, we feel it through the 4-5 generations that we see at almost every major Steppers events, enjoying themselves as one unified body.

Steppin is the History of an African American dance. It is the social history of Chicago's African American social life. Its the Jazz of Ballroom dancing, and the story of the evolution of an African American dance as it traveled the roads of the African American experience. It is in fact, African American Social History communicated through dance. I draw this final yet partial conclusion. Steppin is the History of an African American social dance that never fail to manifest in African American communities and generations, its tradition, history, art form, culture, lifestyle, excitement, entertainment, music, fashion, sound, unity, and much much more in the form of energetic dance. It shall soon transcend the social atmosphere of America with universal appeal to all much like the Blues, Jazz, R&B, and Soul. Only time will tell.

*Gouster was a form of dress that was adopted by many high school students in the mid 1960s in Chicago. The dress consisted of baggy pants and long collar shirts. Some young men wore Borsalino hats or what was described as "Old Men Comforts".

Others would purchase cashmere coats to create more of a "gangster" look. Gousters had a reputation for being cool, not flashy. During this period, men would have their clothes tailor-made with pleated pants, simply referred to as "pleats". Later, many gousters started to purchase Italian knit shirts to complement their pleated pants. Many high schools were termed "Gouster Schools" due to the large percentage of students that dressed in the fashion. "Gouster Schools" were, in many cases, contrasted with "Ivy League Schools", where a majority of students wore the more "preppy" "Ivy" style, characterized by Brooks Brothers shirts, pants without pleats Kangaroo hats, and saddle shoes or penny loafers. Socially, the fashion groups remained distinct, with Ivys and Gousters choosing not to hang out with each other.
--Daniel Land


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Comment by Edie Antoinette on April 22, 2018 at 3:04pm

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  1. play Norman Brown — Night Drive
  2. play Norman Brown — Feeling
  3. play Norman Brown — Still
  4. play Miles Davis — miles 1
  5. play miles 2
  6. play miles 3
  7. play miles 4
  8. play miles 5
  9. play Marvin Gaye — I Met A Little Girl
  10. play Santana — 01 Singing Winds, Crying Beasts
  11. play Santana — 02 Black Magic Woman-Gypsy Queen
  12. play Mongo — 02. Afro Blue

The history of the Butlers/Raw Soul is dense, but for all of us music nerds, that's normal. It is not totally clear what year the Butlers actually formed but they released their first single in 1963 on Liberty Records. That single was "She Tried To Kiss Me" and another single followed on Guyden entitled "Lovable Girl." After the Guyden single the Butlers took a break not recording another record until the single "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" was released on the Phila label in 1966. The group also backed Charles Earland and Jean Wells on one Phila single ("I Know She Loves Me"). 

As you might be noticing, the Butlers were doing a fair amount of recording but not achieving much success. The group's recordings sold regionally but never had the promotion to make an impact on the national scene. After the single with Phila, the Butlers moved to the Fairmount label (part of the Cameo-Parkway family) and released a handful of singles, some being reissued singles of the past. The Butlers were with Fairmount for 1966-67 and then moved to Sassy Records. Sassy released the group's greatest single (in my opinion) "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" b/w "If That's What You Wanted." A copy of that 45 sold for just under $500 last summer on eBay. Even though that isn't that much in the world of record collecting--it's still a hefty sum. The Butlers released another single on Sassy ("She's Gone" b/w "Love Is Good") that appears to be even 
harder to come by then the "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" single.


The true history become a bit blurred here as the AMG biography states that the Butlers last record was released on C.R.S. in 1974 (". However, between 1971 and that single, Frankie Beverly formed a group called Raw Soul and released a number of singles. Some of the songs recorded by Beverly during this period are "While I'm Alone," "Open Up Your Heart," (both on the Gregor label) and "Color Blind." "Color Blind" was released by the Eldorado label and rerecorded by Maze. Beverly's big break came when Marvin Gaye asked Raw Soul to back him on a tour. Gaye helped Beverly/Raw Soul get a contract at Capitol. Beverly decided to take the group in a different direction, a name change occurred, and Maze was created. 

The above isn't the most complete history of Beverly but hopefully someone will know a way to get in touch with the man or his management because a comprehensive pre-Maze history needs to be done on Frankie Beverly (his real name is Howard, by the way). Below you'll find every Frankie Beverly (pre-Maze) song available to me right now ("Color Blind" will be up soon). 

If you have a song that is not included below, shoot it over to funkinsoulman (at) and it will go up in the next Frankie Beverly post (later this week--highlighting Maze). Also, if you have any more information please share your knowledge. The Butlers material has been comp-ed sporadically (usually imports) but the entire Maze catalog has been reissued and is available. 

Enjoy.  "She Kissed Me" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967) 
 "I Want To Feel I'm Wanted" (not sure which label or year) "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" (Phila, 1966) "Because Of My Heart" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967)
 "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" (Sassy, 1967)
 "If That's What You Wanted" (Sassy, 1967)

Frankie Beverly is one of those cats that has lasting power. He started in the music business doing a tour with doo wop group the Silhouettes and then formed his own group called the Blenders. The Blenders never recorded a single, Beverly wouldn't appear on wax until forming the Butlers a few years later. Along with Beverly, the Butlers included Jack "Sonny" Nicholson, Joe Collins, John Fitch, and Talmadge Conway.

Beverly would later enjoy great success fronting Maze and Conway would become a
well-known penning Double Exposure's
"Ten Percent" and the Intruders' "Memories Are Here To Stay." 
 While Maze is a phenomenal group, Beverly's work before that group will always stand out as his best (imo).

The Butlers produced tunes that most Northern Soul fans would kill for and Raw Soul gave the funksters something to pursue. If, by chance, you know of a way to get in touch with Frankie Beverly or his management, please drop me an e-mail. It would be absolutely great to do an interview with him about his pre-Maze work. He's still playing out, most recently doing a New Year's Eve show in Atlanta.
:: Funkinsoulman ::

Power...Through Simplicity ♪♫♪



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