COLUMBIA– Loud music and the claps and cheers of almost a thousand people welcomed six Alpha Phi Alpha brothers on stage.
Dressed in matching black shirts with a gold "X" on their back and black pants, the young men stomped their way to the center of the Plaza 900 Amphitheater at MU.
The group formed a straight line and in perfect synchronization, clapped their hands, stomped their feet and let the crowd know they are the members of the first black fraternity in the U.S.
The MU Black Homecoming step show featured dance performances by the nine historically black fraternities and sororities that form the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
The Homecoming step show is not a competition between organizations but rather an arena to display what groups have been working on for months in advance, said Tyler Tucker, the stepmaster for Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
Stepping is a rhythmic dance featuring synchronized hand-clapping, chanting, foot-stomping, speaking, humorous facial expressions and storytelling.
“It’s an event that’s rich in culture,” Tucker said. “Stepping’s something that started in Africa as ceremonies of song and dance and later progressed over time into what you see today.”
As the show got under way, there was no room for spectators to move. Those in the front rows were asked to sit so those in the back could see the stage. People in the audience cheered for their friends who were performing.
“Go on girl! Get it girl!” a girl shouted.
MU sophomore and transfer student Wycla Bratton, who was in the audience, said people probably came out to the step show because of the feeling of unification.
Tucker called the art of stepping a signature for black Greek organizations and something they pride themselves in mastering.
“Anyone can be made into a stepper," Tucker said. "You just have to commit to it.”
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