The Good Old Days: Bro-Dances Pt. 1 – The Dances

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The Good Old Days are a category of posts dedicated to remembering the good and bad times of fraternity life. For those who just want to enjoy or learn more about the fraternity experience – dedication, drama, leadership and all between. 

Those who know me know that the only place I could start such a category would be related to dance.

In October of 2007 I randomly accepted an invitation to join a group of men called Delta Sigma Phi. I say randomly because my joining Delta Sig seemed inevitable – whether they were courting me or not – it just seemed to fit, and as an offer to join, and later to initiate, came, I accepted them as obvious “yes” decisions. At the time, I was “learning college” – classes and rowing every morning and training for rowing every afternoon.

I wasn’t a particularly productive new member. I had to miss things due to practice and was generally disinterested in leadership within the fraternity. I didn’t take a position within my class, but I was involved in all I could be. I liked the men I had joined with and enjoyed a party or two.

Then came the opportunity of a lifetime. We were going to participate in a dance competition.

BACKGROUND

As a little boy I idolized my oldest sister – she danced in high school. I’d watch videos of her dancing and occasionally test out my skills in learning her choreography. By “occasionally” I mean I’d spend almost all day dancing in front of our fireplace (the glass cover was a perfect me-sized mirror and meant I wouldn’t have to risk my life by standing on a bathroom counter), occasionally pretending a towel or something were her pony tail (episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race have since caused panicked flashbacks)

I would show anyone who would watch. Playing basketball? Just a second, let me show you this dance.

It was an interesting phase, pounded out by minor bullying and reignited when I joined show choir for my final year of high school. I was thirsty to dance.

 

THE DANCES

Spring 2007

Let’s first share some context. Our chapter hadn’t won much in years past, but the Greek Sing competition of 2007 was an intriguing moment. The “Michael Jackson” character here turned out to be my big brother. The rest of this routine is reportedly not a part of this video because. . . I’m not sure why but I’m guessing the brothers didn’t really care for it.

That said, this Thriller dance was enough to win the competition. Well done folks.

 

Fall 2007 – Greek Sing – Theme: 70’s

Themes are typically associated with most dance organizations or events. The theme for this “Airwaves” performance (one of two lip-sync/dance competitions at Stetson University) was the 70’s, and the man who became my “big brother” was our key choreographer. . . more on this later.

Unfortunately, I was not cast into a leading role, perhaps because I was absent and perhaps because I wasn’t yet well-connected. I played a minor role on the far end of the stage doing a dance to “Soldier Boy.”

Witness:

You won’t even notice me, but I’m lanky, energetic, and entering and leaving the screen from the far right side.

We won (obviously) and continued a long tradition of dance dominance at Stetson University. It was the only thing we had, besides “Chapter of the Year.” But honestly, who would care about winning any award other than the dance competition? Not I.

Spring 2008 – Greek Sing – Theme: Gods & Goddesses or something

By the spring of my first year as a fraternity man (soon to become the Fraternity Man you know and love), I was ready for the next step. After initiation I took up the position of Alumni Relations Chairman and became more involved in the chapter’s social activities.

My big brother was again choreographing most of the routine, along with another man who influenced my joining the chapter, we’ll call him Chuck. Chuck decided that the Running Man was to make a return. British folks with access to Youtube in 2008 may recognize from where we stole this routine.

In any case, I was front and off-center, but it was enough. The lust for dance fame consumed me. We won, again, but whatevs.

Fall 2008 – Airwaves – Theme: Stetson Spirit

Guys, this was the one. I don’t have a Facebook, and the only video we have is on Facebook, but you need to trust me. . .

The catch? Big bro has graduated – my chance to choreograph (he remained in the area for some time, and, as you’ll discover in Part 2, had an important role during practice.) In any case, let me try to describe this amazing routine, start to finish:

Setting: Two backdrops, one with a variety of images relating to athletics and stuff, the other with the phrasing “____ Makes Stetson.” The idea was to have small posters with different things written on them to put in the blank spaces, setting the stage for the associated choreography.

  • Athletics Makes Stetson” – Choreographed by my big brother, this routine featured mostly new members doing some fun sports-esque routines to “Swing” by Savage. At the end, they gather into a “go team” esque huddle, breaking apart and allowing for some well-dressed men to get on stage.
  • Alumni Makes Stetson” – To Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough,” We did some version of the electric slide. This was a Chuck routine, but was really just a warmup, Chuck had cooler things up his sleeve.
  • 100+ Student Organizations Makes Stetson” – Stetson has soooo many clubs. First up? Some guys with signs marching on to stage. These were mostly “B” dancers, who didn’t really want to do anything but wanted to participate and help us with our “most people on stage” credit. They carried signs with some names of some student organization. One flips to Zumba and a few folks get on stage to do a Zumba routine (then sweeping the nation).
  • My little brother (aww) then comes on in ambassador gear to demonstrate his own moves, it was so special.
  • I then run across the stage with a “Hip Hop Club” sign. Chuck’s 2nd routine, five guys all in black play “pop and lock tag” which was a game we would actually play as a chapter. . . sad I know. The routine, performed to “Lean Like a Cholo” was an absolute hit. That was a favorite song of mine during my lifeguarding tenure that previous summer.
  • Greek Life Makes Stetson” – “Damn, I like you, I like you but I really want HER.” Those are the lyrics that led to two gentlemen dressed as sorority women on Bid Day. You may have noticed the cross-dresser in the prior videos, that was his schtick. By the time I was a senior, men were climbing over themselves to be “the girl.” And people say we aren’t open-minded. The girls danced first to Dream’s “He Loves You Not,” then their sisters, members of a sorority who joined on stage, became shocked and appalled as the two he-women descended into a sexy routine to “Maneater.”
  • This is where we come in. I, my twin brother (also my big’s little) and a newer member destroyed the world with a rip-off of this SYTYCD routine:

  • Ours was a little better and more exciting (those two got kicked off that week), but whatevs right?
  • Finally we closed with a giant group routine to “Closer,” showcasing another chapter brother up-front.

We lost. Why? We didn’t have a sign with the name of our community service partner. . . What a let down. This was not the movie “Bring it On” we wanted revenge.

UPDATE: Here’s a portion via instagram.

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Spring 2009 – Greek Sing – Theme: 90’s

Back with a vengeance. I’ll let the video do it justice.

We won, obvs. I should note that I was not, as many tend to be, drunk in any of these routines. I took them very seriously. We spent about 2 weeks practicing for each. Only the sororities put so much effort in at this point and time.

Fall 2009 – Airwaves – Theme: Go Green

This one was embarrassing. I am happy to report that this video is also only on Facebook. I don’t even want to get into it. Our concept went over everyone’s head. There was great dancing, to be sure, but it was disjointed. I couldn’t deal. We didn’t get any place or maybe got 3rd or something?

Spring 2010 – Greek Sing – Theme: Organizational Spirit

Don’t listen to anyone. This theme was my idea. I was like, “Why are all of our themes for Greek Week not related to knowing anything about our organizations?” I was a very smart little boy.

So all we had to do was talk up Delta Sig. The concept? We’d point out how hard we practice, incorporate a little step routine (as two sororities did that same year, rumors were rampant that spies were afoot), and then talk about how great of gentlemen we are.

I’m not going to lie, this one is embarrassing if only for the absolutely terrible “G6” dance and at the very end. Just no. Otherwise, we burned the house down and I’ll say that the “Grease” routine was one of the most delightful I’ve ever seen.

We had a reputation as the “gay fraternity,” whether my machismo brothers want to acknowledge that or not, because we were diverse. So yes, I did point out that other groups would call us fruits for dancing with such oomph. But we got the trophy sooooooo.

This routine was also before I knew what “appropriation” was, but really I was bummed that Stetson had zero NPHC groups after visiting the Association for Fraternal Leadership & Values (AFLV) conference and seeing the step routines. In my opinion, we tried to pay tribute, but didn’t have much direction outside of Youtube videos.

Fall 2010 – Airwaves – Theme: Around The World

No. Just No. Again.

I was the head honcho for “Greenfeather” (of which Airwaves is one competition, similar to Greek Sing being one competition of “Greek Week”). The pros of Greenfeather 2010?

  • Logo was on point
  • Online donations, a first
  • We raised $20,000, roughly a 30% increase
  • We decreased the days of the event from 10 (wtf) to 3. I’ve said on this blog a million times that less is more. It’s true.

Anyway. This dance was terrible. I’m not going to share a video. The unfortunate part? My twin normally choreographed one or two dances and was thrust into doing most of this routine. I showed up on the day of the performance, taught the one dance I’d do, and left. The whole thing was in shambles. I take the blame.

Spring 2011 – Greek Sing – Theme: Redemption. . wait, no. The Theme was Superheroes, but it was a redeeming performance. 

I was not going to lose again. NO. We had lost our 1st place crown in Airwaves competitions, those were a loss, but we still reigned supreme at Greek Sing.

Interestingly, we and another Fraternity chose to do “in the dark” sequences, where the lights were turned off. Ours was a play on cyborgs called “Frat-Formers” instead of Transformers. Five of us wore all-black outfits and created cool patterns with glow-in-the-dark tape that my bestie at the time had wisely purchased.

The bummer? The tape doesn’t show up in the video, but you can tell from the crowd reaction that it was AWESOME. Our big-group routine was bollywood-esque in terms of being simple and visually appealing. We focused on Captain America, which was assigned to us, and played up U.S./China relations. This was after our traditional “woman” had graduated, and so you can see the aspiring drag stars attempting to steal the spotlight.

It was a little riskay, but overall enough to land a 1st place finish.

Dancing is a major part of the fraternity experience. Say whatever you want about service and fundraising and blah, blah, blah.

NO.

Dancing is where it’s at. It bonds brothers and is a cultural showcase of the time period. I can’t imagine we don’t point these out and compare them to the early members of our organizations hosting plays and musicals for their campuses.

Part Two will focus on the characters exposed through these routines. The cut-throat practices, the competition to become Greek Sing’s Next Drag Superstar, and more.

 

UPDATE: A previous version of this post included the wrong video for Spring 2010. New video uploaded.