By Emily Beck Cogburn
Special to FUN
August 16, 2012
“The women are on board, now we’re trying to get the men out to dance,” JoJo Newsom said.
Reeling in male dancers is the impetus for including Calvin “Taboo” Jarrett as one of the workshop leaders for this year’s Steppin’ In the Bayou dance competition, Newsom said. “He’ll teach the men how to lead. He has some fancy footwork he’s world-renowned for. He travels around the country with his Chicago Steppin’.”
The man is important in most kinds of couples dancing, but especially in Chicago Steppin’. “The moves are orchestrated by the man,” Newsom said.
Classes for couples in Chicago Steppin’ will also be given by Cheryl “Sugarfoot” Powe and Devan Powe of Atlanta, before the main event on Saturday night.
The meet and greet on Friday is a way for local dancers to socialize with those who are visiting from out of town and just have fun, Newsom said.
Chicago Steppin’ is a form of ballroom dancing that started in Chicago and Detroit, according to the Steppin’ in the Bayou website. Newsom’s organization, Steppin’ in the Bayou LLC, offers classes in the style every Tuesday night.
“We teach the best. People can come and learn Chicago Steppin’ and line dancing,” she said.
As a judicial assistant, an emcee and deejay, and an on-air personality for Q106.5 FM, Newsom stays busy all the time.
She started the dance competition five years ago to bring Chicago Steppin’ to Baton Rouge.
Steppin’ in the Bayou isn’t just about dancing, though. It’s also about raising money for a good cause. This year, the charity is Sisters Network, a national African-American breast cancer survivorship organization.
Zakeeyaw Toney, host of the Ask Nurse Z Show, will give a free seminar before the workshops about dancing and health.
“She’s going to talk about the importance of exercising, especially through dance,” Newsom said. A new addition to the event this year, the seminar is a great chance for people to learn about how they can stay fit and healthy, she said.
Organizations such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana and Louisiana Healthcare Connections, also sponsors of the event, will provide samples and information.
Other sponsors include: Decuir, Clark and Adams Law Firm, Holt Law Firm, Morgan Law Firm, The Chicken Shack, Joe Delpit, Henry Baptiste and Citadel Broadcasting.
Even though the cause is serious, everyone will have a good time, she said. “These dancers are at the top of their game,” Newsom said. “People are coming from Chicago, Mississippi and Texas to compete.”
Prizes will be given out for the best dancers in three different styles: swing, two-step, and Chicago Steppin’.
People will also be interested in the silent auction items donated by local businesses including Olinde’s, Visit BR and Raising Cane’s, Newsom said.
“It’s going to be a fun night of dancing, food and entertainment,” she said.