UCF Greeks dish on secrets to art of 'strolling'
Stomp The Yard
is a movie to most, but for one community, it shows its life. The strolling and stepping in the film shows just a piece of the traditions practiced by black Greek organizations.
Strolling is a synchronized dance with unwritten rules that was made popular by black and Latino Greek organizations in the 1920s.
The dance routine serves as a culture of its own, performed among several multicultural Greek organizations, most commonly to hip-hop and R&B genres.
Vanessa Jeannot, a senior majoring in health services administration, described the synchronized dance routine as one that is done in single file to predetermined music.
Video: UCF Greeks show off strolls at yardshow
Although strolling can be categorized under this basic definition, Jeannot said this description only scratches the surface of its meaning.
"You have to see and feel [the dance routine] to understand," she said.
As president of the Mu Iota Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Jeannot said she first learned about strolling through observing her sorority members participate in a dance routine to celebrate a Greek event.
"I was in awe of how, not only were these women smart, successful world changers and willing to give back to the community, but they knew how to have fun, too," she said. "Strolling is simply an added bonus to what makes an organization great."
Jeannot said there aren't necessarily any rules to strolling because it is more about originality, difficulty and synchronization.
If there were to be one "rule" for strolling, Jeannot said it would simply be the instruction for strollers to perform in one continuous line.
"A routine could be made in as little as five minutes or several hours. It all depends on the difficulty and creativity that is being used to make the routine," she said.
It is a sign of disrespect to walk through a line of people strolling to organizations who practice this tradition.
Eric Chandler, a senior majoring in sociology, said that the reasoning behind this tradition is to not disrupt the unity of the affiliated brotherhood or sisterhood formed by the Greek organizations.
Both strolling and stepping, another common tradition among black Greek organizations, originated from African tribal dances that were done as rituals.
The unique African dance routines were incorporated into Greek life, and were further known as a combination of energetic choreographed dance movements typically performed during Greek functions or events.
Chandler said the importance and meaning of strolling was not divulged unto him until he officially became part of the Greek life.
"Strolling has fused to become a strong part of minority Greek life. It's something that we hold dear and unique only to us," he said. "It's our way of physically embodying our organization."
A stroll is typically performed as a line routine, lasting from one to five minutes and consisting of high energy movements.
Charity Powell, a senior majoring in psychology, said she was first introduced to strolling when she attended UCF Greek events.
Powell said the fact that she loves to dance sparked her interest in strolling, as did her fascination with the energetic leader of the strolling line.
"I was intrigued by the leading skills you needed to lead a stroll line. Before I was Greek I had no experience in strolling, only dancing," she said.
Powell is currently the Stroll Master of her chapter in Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., and said that it can take her under ten minutes on average to think of a dance routine for a stroll.
"Strolling is a way we express our pride in our organizations," she said.
Velt Ivory, a senior majoring in accounting and finance, said strolling has a deeper meaning to him than just a line of people expressing pride through dance moves.
Ivory's interest in strolling was first sparked when he learned about a "founder's stroll," where all the brothers in the organizations know how to perform the routine.
As the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., president, he said strolling serves as another way to form a meaningful bond and create unity among his fellow brotherhood.
"When I am strolling with my brothers, especially to a signature stroll, it's like a feeling of brotherhood that is indescribable," Ivory said.