This past Saturday, Sprite hosted the Sprite Step-Off qualifying Round right here in Raleigh at the Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion; Raleigh was one of many qualifying rounds around the country. Hosted by Saint Augustine College, the competition is not only the largest step competition to hit the area, but is also the largest step competition in history with a pool prize packet that reaches $1.5 million dollars. Sprite will be traveling all over the country to find talented Greek step teams at various colleges that will first compete in numerous qualifying rounds that will take place in September and October, then the regional semifinals and regional finals in the months of October and November. The national finals will take place in Atlanta, Georgia on January 19, 2010; the overall winner will appear in Stomp the Yard 2. Saturday’s competition featured 5 teams, three fraternities and two sororities, from all over North Carolina, including the Eta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc from NC State.

Even though it was gloomy day and the rain was coming and going as the day wore on, it did little to stop the people at the Sprite Step-Off from having fun. The “audition stage” show kicked off the festival; during this phase of the competition, the teams showed off their skills to judges in hopes of moving on to the next round. However, since there were only five teams and a total of eight teams (four fraternities and four sororities) qualify, all the teams were eligible to move on. The second round took place at the main stage; the first group to perform was the Delta Chi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc from Elizabeth City State University. They were followed by the Eta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc  from NC A&T, whose performance theme was The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that even included the “Carlton” dance; they concluded their performance by stepping blind-folded. Up next was the Eta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc who drew a lot of cheers and support from the NC State students that were in attendance; they opened up their show, like in the Back 2 School Jam, by throwing money into the audience and were able to “revive” the crowd with their performance. The Gamma Xi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. from St. Augustine’s was next, and even though they only had two members perform, they were able to hold their own against the other teams. The Gamma Psi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., also from St. Aug. was the last act to hit the stage and ended the step competition on high and energetic note.

While the judges were busy tallying up the final scores, Sprite kept the crowd alive with other forms of entertainment. A local music group performed their hit “Million Dollar Man”, a song that is being played on the radio stations here in North Carolina. A group of high school steppers named Rho Alpha Gamma graced the stage next and showed their moves to the audience; the black modeling troupe from Saint Augustine College, BJMT, followed and showcased their modeling skills. The last two acts, Embrace and Beatnam Veterans (both hip-hop groups), performed songs that had people in the audience jamming along with them, especially two songs dedicated to the ladies that caught the attention of many women in the audience.

However, the judges were not quite done with the results so people decided to create their own fun. Lines were forming as people did the Cupid Shuffle and the Cha-Cha slide and jamming to some of their favorite songs like “Poison” by Bell Biv Devoe. There was even a battle between St. Augustine and NC State students to see who could get the most “hyped” in which NC State slightly edged out the St. Augustine students. Soon after, the results were ready; for the sororities, the Gamma Xi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. came in second place and the Delta Chi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. came in first place. For the fraternities, the Eta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. came in third place and won $1,500, the Eta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. came in second place and won $3,000 and the Gamma Psi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. came in first and won $5,500. All teams, except the first place teams, will be competing in South Carolina on October 17th for the regional semi-finals. The first place teams get to go straight to the regional finals in Charlotte, to be joined by the winners of the semi-finals.

Following the revealing of the results, the DJ Battle took place, which was sponsored by McDonalds. Each DJ represented one of the three popular burgers of the popular food chain: DJ Prince was the double quarter pounder with cheese, DJ Scholar was the Big Mac, and DJ DY Nasty was the Angus Third Pounder. DJ Prince’s style was throwback hip-hop music that had many in the audience nodding their head from side to side. DJ Scholar’s style was current and past club hits and the recent dance songs that have swept the country in a dancing craze like “2-step” by DJ Unk. DJ DY Nasty had a style that was more laid back and even included a couple of the late Michael Jackson’s hits. The battle went on for three rounds and the audience had a chance to vote for their favorite DJ by sending a text to a specified number with the name of the DJ; DJ Prince won the battle and will be moving on to the next segment of the DJ competition.

Before the headliner act, Lupe Fiasco, came out, Vistoso Bosses, who currently have a song and video out entitled “Delirious”, treated the crowd to an eclectic performance. The group provided a rock/hip-hop tone to them that many people were able to vibe to. Finally, after a much anticipated wait, Lupe Fiasco came to the stage which immediately drew a large roar from the crowd. Lupe did not disappoint and rocked the crowd with songs like “Superstar”, “Go-Go Gadget Flow”, “Paris, Tokyo”, and even treated the audience to a song off his upcoming album. Mr. Fiasco, in a move to show love for his fans, gave a girl in the audience his bottle of water when she exclaimed that she was thirsty. Following the show, he took pictures with several of the Greek organizations and members of the media. Video cameras were on the scene to capture footage which will be aired on national television in an “American Idol” type television show so keep an eye out for the teams competing in the show because they will be popping up on your TV screens in the coming months. The Sprite Step-Off has successfully been kicked off and will only grow bigger from here. For more information go to:

– Lauren Gayden