"You just lose yourself into the music and it just looks good doing it," explains dancer Montreal Taylor.
The winner of this competition must master the moves, the grooves, and, as legendary Chicago disc jockey Herb Kent puts it, the attitude.
"You gotta have that stepper's face," Kent says. It's a real cool face."
Stepping started in Chicago's African-American community when the jitterbug met up with rhythm and blues. Today, the dance form has evolved into three distinct forms - the classic original, the anything-goes freestyle, and the triple treat trio, where one female dancer has two male partners.
The rules vary in each category, but each couple is judged on style, synchronization, showmanship, footwork, originality, and appearance.
"The women have the tendency to be the peacocks of the pair, but definitely the men are strutting their stuff," says stepper Jan Maldenoff.
However, the fashion show isn't only on the dance floor. Fans of stepping also prepare for the evening as colorfully dressed observers.
"It's something that's part of the community and people just love it," explains contest organizer Merry Green. "Steppers say it's a way of life."
Stepping is beginning to appeal to people of cultures other than African-American.
"It's nice that every culture is joining in," says dancer Niko Garcia. "I think that's beautiful."
After 30 years of friendship, Kim Bowie and Freda Turner stepped their way to first place in the original dance category.
"It's long overdue," Turner says. "I've waited for this so long."
Her partner is equally enthusiastic about the honor.
"I live for stepping," Bowie says.
For both dancers and their fans, stepping is an art form that welcomes all who choose to step up to the challenge.
Reported By Maureen Maher