Annual Black Greek step show soars to new heights
Show brings national TV personality to the Riverside Theatre
By Nyerere C. Davidson
Revamped with a new look, housed in a larger venue and armed with a theme of “Shut up and Step,” the 15th Annual Brew City Stomp Down step show hit Milwaukee’s Riverside Theatre last Saturday.
Sponsored by City Year Milwaukee, the step show is a celebration of the rich history of the nine fraternities and sororities that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
The show was established in 1997 as a showcase of Black Greek Letter Organizations and their traditions, the rich history of the art of stepping, and to commemorate Black History Month. This year the show will be hosted by media personality and former BET’s 106 & Park host “Free.”
The show featured performances from fraternity and sorority teams from across the country including, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity – teams competed for a trophy and $2,000 prize for first place sorority and first place fraternity step team.
With a history of being held on Marquette’s campus, this is the first time the show was held away from school grounds.
Quentin Menal, 22, vice president of NPHC of MU and senior Marquette University student, said it was a ‘natural decision’ to move the event off-campus.
“Over the years the show has become a staple in the experience of college students across the state. Having outgrown the campus facilities, a move to a larger venue would be able to accommodate the growing popularity of the event,” said Menal, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
“By hosting the event in the heart of downtown Milwaukee at one of the most historically notable theaters in the city we can make the show something that the city as a whole anticipates each year rather than just college students. “
Since its 1997 inception, Brew City Stomp Down is a long cry away from its early days as a small, free show in Marquette University’s Weasler Auditorium.
Shellisa Multrie, former MU NPHC president (1998-99), was instrumental along with former Brew City Stomp Down chairman, Terrell Johnson, in bringing the now 15-yearold step show competition to fruition whose goal was to provide local Black fraternities and sororities the opportunity to compete and share the rich history of Black Greek Letter Organizations.
“I am very proud to see the show continue to grow and move to the new venue is awesome. We started the concept of bringing national talent to show as hosts/hostesses and I think they are doing a great job of keeping the tradition going,” said Multrie, a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
The annual show not only serves as a forum for social entertainment but also seeks to express the unity of NPHC organizations, by providing scholarship opportunities to Marquette University students.
For all teams, preparation for the show was not a cake walk.
“Preparing for Brew City was a hectic process,” said Kevin Mitchell, a 20-year-old Marketing student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity step team. “We had to see what members wanted to step, work around each other’s schedule, and find a place to practice – We started slow but as the show got closer our work ethic got better.”
By the end of the night, the ladies of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and men of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity took home first place trophies and a $2,000 grand prize for their performances with second place trophies going to the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority and the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity step teams.
“We put a lot of work into giving our best,” said Monique Driver, a 23-year-olf Sociology student at Marquette and member of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority step team. “We are naturally hard on ourselves because we care so much more about giving the audience a quality show than we do winning.”
Courtney Sampson, member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity step team, agrees.
“Winning first place at Brew City was awesome,” said the 22-year-old Marquette alumnus.” It felt good to be rewarded for months of hard work and also helped to provide momentum as we prepare to participate in other step shows later this month and in May.”
Both teams will be performing in the Lake County Stomp Fest in Waukegan, Ill. on February 18.
Although the show took the necessary steps to reach a wider audience, others have even greater expectations for Brew City.
“I would love to see the event televised. I think that it is a great showing for Milwaukee,” Multrie, 32, said. “We had dreams of it growing and being a success for generations to come. They are continuing a legacy and raising the standard.”