This post is inspired by a step-steeped day I had recently. While I was getting ready to head out for a night of dubSTEP with Caspa at Bass Goes Boom I was listening to the radio and learned that there’s a dance style called Chicago STEPping.
Chicago stepping is a name given to a dance that has evolved over the years from various other dances. Originally created in Chicago’s predominately African American neighborhoods, the dance has morphed from its beginnings with the Jitterbug in the 30s and 40s, to the Offtime in the 50s, to the Walk and the Chicago Bop in the 60s and 70s.
This revelation came on top of the fact that there’s a style of reggae called STEPpers which has been around at least since the ’70s.
In Steppers, the bass drum plays four solid beats to the bar, giving the beat an insistent drive. An example is “Exodus” by Bob Marley and the Wailers. Another common name for the Steppers beat is the “four on the floor”.
As far as I know there are no ties between Chicago stepping and steppers reggae, except that disco had a large influence on both.
Steppers reggae, especially ’80/’90s U.K. steppers dub by artists like Iration Steppers, the Deciples, Alpha & Omega, etc., has a much closer connection to dubstep. This track by Alpha & Omega has a classic steppers sound:
Alpha & Omega; Bug Up Dub
Iration Steppers Live Video:
When I played at the Glade Festival in England last summer I noticed some of the sound-systems mixing up dubstep and more traditional steppers reggae. In fact, this mix by Skream from September, ’06 is a good example:
MP3 DJ Mix Download:
Skream on Rinse FM September 27, 2006
One of the aspects of dubstep that holds my attention is that there are so many influences at work on the various tentacles of the genre. Sometimes you can hear the strong U.K.-garage influence, other times drum-n-bass, and quite often reggae, dub, soca, dancehall, and steppers.