Rick Daniels is a leadership advisor for Greek Life, but that is no longer his only title at UW-Whitewater. His newest title is author. Daniels’ new book, “Tap Dancing without Shoes,” debuts September 2013.
The Royal Purple had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Daniels about his new book.
Royal Purple: What is your book, “Tap Dancing without Shoes,” about?
Daniels: I talk about stepping as an art form. It’s a book on the history of stepping but also the impact that stepping has had on the culture of Greeks and the larger community. I talk about stepping from the historical standpoint and also about how it has been used to start organizations to get students off the street or save lives. It’s a comprehensive analysis of how this art form has made its way across the world in 60 to 70 years.
RP: What made you decide you wanted to write about stepping?
Daniels: The book started out as a presentation. The first year we did a Yard Show was my senior year in Alpha Phi Alpha. We let Greeks outside National Pan-Hellenic Council be involved, but they first had to sit through a program on stepping. We realized Blacks didn’t know about the history of stepping either, so it then became less about educating others and more about educating everyone. It spiraled into a research project that I don’t really want to end. There is only one book out there about stepping, so I want there to be more out there about it.
RP: How long have you been writing, “Tap Dancing without Shoes?”
Daniels: I started the first draft in June 2011, though the research has been going on for about four years. In June, I took a week off and just wrote for a week. Now I try to write in the morning–I get up around 4:30 a.m. Then on Saturday and Sundays, I try to write more. I try to get 4.5 to 6 hours of writing in a week.
RP: Have you been involved with stepping here at the UW -Whitewater?
Daniels: Yes, I pledged Alpha Phi Alpha in 2006. I became the president, and we put on a yard show. It was one of the first they had had in awhile. I’ve stepped on this campus seven or eight times. The step show has now grown into one of the largest in Wisconsin.
RP: Have you been involved with stepping elsewhere?
Daniels: We’ve done a lot of step programs outside. A lot of NPHC Greeks do programs for community service programs. We go to community centers or high school and put on a step show, then have a panel on Greek life. This actually happened last week, and I spoke on the history of Black Greeks. It’s really cool how a lot Greeks use this as a tool to promote college and a better life. I’ve hosted more events outside of Whitewater than I’ve actually stepped in.
Daniels: The book is in no way to make me famous–it is to spread the history of the culture and this great art form. That is the idea. From the onset, I really just wanted to educate people. I really want to make it a really interactive book–the design is going to be a magazine format. I want it to jump out to people, because the art form isn’t boring, so I want the book to be exciting.
I challenge a lot of misperceptions about stepping. You don’t have to step to join a Black organization. I do a comprehensive analysis of “Stomp the Yard”–the good things that came from the movie and also the bad stereotypes from it.
Each chapter opens up with a personal story involving stepping that I think helps paint the picture for the chapter.