From Flint to Arizona, the ladies of Smooth Steppers are on the move

FLINT, Michigan — A group of local spry step dancers known as the Smooth Steppers ventured to Arizona this year to trip the light fantastic.

The line dancing group traveled to Tempe, Arizona in late October to perform for more than 100 people at the 7th Annual Flint to Arizona tailgate. The day-long event also featured music from the group Vaughn Willis and Ear Candy. Vendors and food trucks were on site to boot. 

Tailgate founders Michelle Bolden, Anthony and Tracy Holliman, Derrick Butler, Charles Muhammad, and Erika Pennyman started the event to unite Arizona transplants from the Flint area. They adopted the tailgate-style event in honor of the beloved high school reunion tailgates held in Flint. Their goal is to create an inter-state network of tailgate groups to unify the festivities.

Flint resident and Smooth Stepper's founder Delois Wilson Jackson said when the group learned they were invited to the event in Arizona, they were eager to hit the road and show off their talents. “I told them that we were invited to go down and perform to represent Flint. They said, “Let’s do this!” 

Jackson says that 15 of the group’s 25 members were ecstatic to travel to Tempe for the performance. Sporting their 'Smooth Steppers' jackets and “I Am My Sister’s Keeper” tees, the members excitedly engaged with other airport travelers eager to learn more about the group out of Flint. 

The ladies of Smooth Steppers.The group was founded in 2017 to encourage sisterhood and improve health outcomes. Jackson says the impetus for starting the group was the passing of two of her sisters. She says dancing helped her cope with their deaths by providing her with a sense of solace.

“I could block out the whole world,” said Jackson. “Dancing was a way to express myself confidently in a new and meaningful way. The dance floor is the one place where I am free from life’s stressors. Once I am on the dance floor, it’s just me and my music against the world.”

The Steppers have received accolades from the State of Michigan and Genesee County Board of Commissioners among others. The celebrated women are looking forward to new and exciting opportunities in the new year. 

Upcoming Smooth Steppers events include a breakfast fundraiser and the annual ball. The group also looks forward to performing at the 2023 Juneteenth Celebration in Flint and plans to return to Tempe next year for the 8th Annual Flint to Arizona Tailgate. 

Current Smooth Steppers members range in age from 40 to 75 years old. The steppers assemble at Berston Fieldhouse from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to fellowship and rehearse. Supporters can visit the group’s YouTube channel to watch past performances.

If you are interested in joining the line dancing group at Berston Fieldhouse, visit: berston.org/senior-line-dancing

Read more articles by Qiana Towns.