Amid hits thrown down by DJ Bad, dance troupes stomped the Lagoon Lawn yesterday in front of a roaring crowd to celebrate the annual Black Culture Week.
For nearly two hours, members of Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi and Delta Sigma Theta performed step routines in the annual greek Yard Show in front of several hundred students. UCSB dance group Black Reign also showed off their moves, offering audience members a circus-inspired hip-hop routine, complete with hula-hoops and baton twirling. The week’s events, organized by the Black Student Union, kicked off Monday and run through Sunday night.
Chinedu Unaka, an Alpha Phi Alpha member and third-year sociology major, said step dance – a percussive form of dance that uses the entire body to create sounds and rhythms – serves as a major part of the black cultural experience.
“Step is a tradition that resides in the circle of black fraternities,” Unaka said. “Its origins are in the African American culture, and it demonstrates unity, brotherhood and empowerment through the struggle. With the black community here being so small, this tradition keeps us together through the struggles we face in the outside world and on campus.”
Unaka said the yard show is one of the most anticipated events of Black Culture Week and requires weeks of preparation.
“The yard show has to do with the social aspect of the black fraternities and sororities,” Unaka said. “The steps are real intricate. The rhythm, beats and sounds all need to be in sync. We practice at least three hours a day in the spring.”
Black Reign dancer Kendra Dabney, a fourth-year communication and economics major, said dance and music provide some of the central forms of expression for the UCSB black community.
“We use music that comes from the Black Diaspora and base our choreography on hip-hop,” Dabney said. “Black Reign was founded by two black men and soon became multi-gender and then multi-racial. We’ve been on campus for six years now. We take pride in representing the black community.”
This year’s Black Culture Week also included a variety of social events, informational presentations and guest speakers. Today, students can partake in a BBQ at Manzanita Pool from 12 to 3 p.m. and a bowling night at Zodo’s at 9 p.m., hosted by Kappa Alpha Psi.
Black Culture Week will draw to a close this Sunday with a free Jazz Night in the Student Resource Building from 8 to 10 p.m.
Deirdre Mathis, co-chair of the Black Student Union and a third-year film and black studies major, said the week helps offer students insight into the black community on campus through various social and academic events.
“On our campus, the black students only comprise 2.7 percent of the UCSB population, so it’s important to let people know that we are here and we do have a voice on this campus,” Mathis said. “The yard show is pretty much the biggest event we have, but we have at least three or four different events each day, and they are put on by different black student organizations.”