Vegas sits in the middle of the arid, rocky and dusty Mojave Desert. Locals say that it rains there once every 50 years and as the curtains went down at Silk 2013, iPhones went off alerting of a flash flood that was rapidly approaching. The thunder rumbled and the lightning made for an awesome natural event. And yes, for a few minutes, the skies parted and it poured in a city that seldom sees rain. Pretty symbolic of the evening.
The lightning, thunder and flash flood eventually subsided as the 2 organizations who wanted it most this July reigned on the Palms and the Moon NightClub, on the rooftop of the Palms. For one weekend, 12 organizations united to host the most diverse stroll show of all time. Diverse in that teams flew and drove in from Washington, California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Texas, New York and several other states to compete in the annual pilgrimage known as the infamous SILK stroll show. History, as promised, was about to be written.
Perhaps there was a higher power at work. Perhaps the thunder and lightning were announcing the dawn of a new reign in strolling. Perhaps SIA's humble return to the great stage caused it. We say humble because as their veterans were busy, throughout the weekend, strolling IN the pool, playing roulette and just having a great time, their new team pledged behind closed doors, focusing on the task at hand. The SIA veterans alerted team Greekster that their hope was to use this show as a building block for future shows. "We just want our girls to build from this experience and do two things: represent themselves and their organization tonight. If we place, that's a bonus." And we blindly believed them because when we hear those words, what we see next is usually a hot mess. Perhaps it was LUL's return to the apex of Silk mountain in their 1st SILK since '08, and first win since '02, that caused it. Thunder and lightning were about to strike that stage.
It is fitting that Brenda Medina was in attendance. She has been a part of team Greekster's events since our first step, stroll and salute show back in a hot, sweaty gym in '99. Longevity, history and relevance are difficult in this sport but Brenda consistently embodies the best of Greek life.
It is also fitting that Silk Champion Jannira Roman was in attendance. Jannira's team was last seen* at SILK in 2009, running home that fateful night with the 6 foot - 1st place trophy, although it was not solely theirs. Jannira, thank you. Brenda, thank you. We welcome the amazing Hermandad back to a family that has missed you for 3 years. All the great teams have a pillar. SIA has 2.
It is fitting that LUL step and stroll legend Jose Laguna was sitting front row in Vegas for he was on this stage, during the LUL Step reign in '04-'05, the last time his organization hoisted the largest trophy you've ever seen. Heck, his team battled the Kingz in their prime. He is amongst the select few who knows how rare this opportunity is. The confidence we saw in LUL's eyes all night was comparable to that of NKOTB. Yes Braxton, we said it, sorry, jus' sayin'. The team "NAS-T" even did a champion's lap, across the venue, circa Cal Ripken, before they were even announced as winners. They knew what the forecast called for. Gripping, pounding, hugging every single LUL brother that was in their path as they circled the venue. Supported. Loved. Young. Chiseled (One stroller dropped 15 pounds to be #silkReady.) Confident. Scary. LUL is back on planet SILK.
FACT CHECK: 6 months ago, we wrote the following about LUL: "3:1 odds - [we] suspect that the team will finally return to the greatness of their NAS-T teams from the mid-2000's..." and about SIA: "20:1 odds - What can stop them? If they leverage experience, maybe nothing." Thunder and lightning struck. Lets get into the show details.
Two things were clear after round 1: LUL was tough and SLU's Blacklisted was reeeeeeeealllllly tough. LUL had stage swagger that first time SILK performers rarely possess. SLU had Trinity-from-the-Matrix outfits that were almost as definitive as the precision with which they executed. In the 2nd highest-rated stroll of the night, based on the judge's scores, SLU's first round performance presented a serious problem for sororities who remained standing after round 1. It built a ginormous lead and put everyone on notice that Blacklisted (without Silk Champ Centeno) was very capable. The first round eliminations on the sorority side were to newcomers Lambda Sigma Gamma (NorCal), Pi Lambda Chi (Colorado) and Mu Sigma Upsilon (PA). It was their first time at SILK, but they didn't look like first timers. We look forward to watching them continue to develop in coming years.
Iconic moments happened all night long. Towards the end of round 1, SIA entered stage right and posed before their stroll started. They wore skin-tight bodysuits that commanded the attention of any woman-loving audience member. Once we saw that, we threw everything that we were humbly told out and #BetOnSIA. They were #silkReady, #vegasReady and #championshipReady.
Because of SLU's strong first round, SIA and LTA both kicked it up a notch in round 2 and each delivered their very best strolls of the night. SIA delivered a 93.8 on the richter scale in round 2, which was the highest-rated sorority stroll of the night. Humbling. This left very little room for Gamma Alpha Omega (NorthBest) or Lambda Theta Nu (Cali) to earn a bid for round 3 without a perfect performance. These 2 teams should be able to sleep at night as they faced steep competition and held their own.
LTA's Michelle Powell, who placed 2nd out of 9 sororities at Silk 2013 had her girls ready, as usual. DJ Heavyness secretly had them picked 1st on his score sheets before the show as he got to see all dress rehearsals. He expected them to be standing for the final bell. He was right. After 2012's very close 2nd, we were thrilled to see them rebound and deliver consistently throughout the night. Their enthusiasm scores were off the meter in each round. Perhaps it was their interesting calm before the show as they joked steadily. If this was their last show together, they have sewn an amazing piece of the SILK fabric and will be missed, having made every final round that they have ever been a part of. That's rare. Thanks for your amazing attention to the detail behind your craft. You have positioned your team and organization atop the West Coast and we pray to watch your beautiful team grace the stage again.
Unfortunately for Blacklisted, their 2nd round turned out to be their achilles heel as the professional judges knocked them down some and their lead evaporated.
We don't want to lose sight of the great G-Squad who came to Vegas to defend their Silk 2012 title. Getting to the top is hard. Staying there is near impossible, especially with this stiff competition. No sorority has repeated since 2005. To Karol and the G-Squad, your team's effort was valiant and it was wonderful to watch you grace the stage. This night, there were just 3 teams that came after your throne. The inner calmness we saw beforehand made us think that you'd be in the final 3 and you were just 3 points short. Some strollers work their entire career and never see the mountaintop. The G-Squad's place is cemented in Silk history. An iconic moment occurred towards the close of the 2nd round, as the G-Squad came out for their final stroll. They lined up diagonally on the stage in their sunglasses staring directly at the sorority championship trophies almost as if to say, we own 1 of those and we're not going out unless you take it from us. Yet another SILK legend, Karol led the G-Squad in what might have been her final SILK stroll. We hope not but thanks for the moment as you are a Champion and legendary performer.
The scary thing about SIA right now is that this group is brand new. Keep this up and they may be our first stroll dynasty since...we hate to go there but we have to......yes, since that young crew known as SEVEN. See, when SEVEN first came on the scene, it was a group of young but very strategic minds who understood how to win. The even scarier part is that not only is this young SIA team just starting out, but they have access to the minds of and coaching from the '09 Silk champion team. SEVEN did not have that luxury and it is quite possible, with what we saw tonight, this could be the start of something greater. Time should make it clear.
We knew the Space City Betas were dealing with tremendous personal adversities. We cannot share them but we celebrate the fact that you came all the way from Texas to show us what was in your gut. True grit if we've ever seen it. Thanks Aaron for pulling the team together and representing through it all. You make us all proud to be Greeks. If only they knew all of the drama.To the SoCal Betas, we knew Ramon would have you #vegasReady for he knows too well what it takes having won several Silk LA shows. The new team had us smiling after their excellent 1st round stroll. We could see the rhythm and tight synchronization as did the judges and thought you'd be extremely close in the end. The months of training were evident and hopefully the experience of the new team is something to build upon. This seems to be a very, cohesive group of dynamic minds and we suspect that they will carry your legacy. Congrats on a well-deserved 2nd place finish but unfortunately this night belonged to another team.
That other team, was being pushed by the National President, by a brotherhood that needed to re-establish its dominance, which had been missing since the last great LUL stroll team at Silk 2008 at Wildwoods. This weekend, the drought ended. It was coincidentally their convention weekend and although that may have provided a slight home field advantage, NAS-T wanted to win by a large margin. They had a lot to prove. They were stingy - not wanting to give the judges any reason to deduct any points. They wanted to win each round convincingly. On the scorecards, they won by 31 points. For Silk historians out there, the largest prior margin of SILK victory was 13 points. That's just how dominant they were on this night.
Someone in the crowd made a wild suggestion, that drew our attention. What if LUL and LSU went toe to toe next year, just those 2 fraternities in NYC like a boxing match? Interesting proposition and only time will reveal if this materializes, especially with the advent of the Sigma Lambda Beta teams. LSU has always been the barometer of great teams through the years but is it possible that a shifting of the tide is occurring? All champions make a pivotal transition and 2013 could be that moment for the NAS-T squad that worked so hard to end an eleven year Vegas-like drought. 2014 will be the next test for this group of talented strollers as their throne will surely face the test. Greekster will do everything in our power to setup Mayweather-Pacquiao 1**. Stay tuned.
Silk 2013 was our first time in Vegas. We were met with tons of support from Greeks that we met for the first time. 12 teams flew in to compete. Thank you to all of those Greeks who can't stay away from the drug that is Silk, the 120 seconds on stage that require months of thinking and rehearsing. The 120 that all teams refuse to give anything less than 100% on for it is those 120 that they're measured on.
The weekend will go down as the hottest Silk of all time, reaching 107 degrees. It felt as if the sun was baking us all weekend. Shout out to Mr. Raul, truly the greatest MC in Greek life, a performer on a stage of great performers. We often take for granted how gifted this man is. Since he entered the Greek scene, hosting shows and launching greekstand.com, he has he embodied the fun-loving, intelligent, selfless, hard-working and very genuine personality that great Greeks possess. Although MC-ing is 2nd to his music, the energy he emits on and off stage have earned him the 2013 MVP award. The audience only sees the 2 hours during the show. They seldom see the 6 months of thinking, planning and execution that this man delivers behind the scenes. Thank you Raul.
On to Anthony, the man who had the vision to dream up and create brand new events that brought Greeks together every summer, a summer step show and a summer stroll show. Unfortunately the last step show that team Greekster put on was in 2008, but Silk lives on. I thank Anthony for always having the vision to take a different path and for bringing us all along. Thank you Anthony.
On to Robert, the silent member of team Greekster. Usually behind the scenes, he gels us together, and never seeks glory, fame or credit. He sweeps the floors and keeps us looking pristine.
Thank you to all of those Greeks who come out every single year for us. It takes 6 months to execute Silk. We look forward to 2014 and we'll take a few weeks off to strategize where to next. It is always great to see the beauty that is Latinos in college/graduated. Your love for what we do is humbling.
Signing off, although I could write forever.
ps Thanks Marvin for making my night as we discussed GSAP's and Greekster's early days.
pps Quote of the night: SIA legend Lisbel, after winning the 6 foot trophy, "OK, so how do we get this home? That's not going to fit on a plane."
ppps Braxton, we have an idea - please stand by.
pppps Early congrats to Yannira Roman, who we've watched grow up and is earning a well-deserved distinction next week. We are proud of you.
ppppps Seriously Blacklisted, that 1st stroll was something else. Dabrali, you made us happy that we don't judge this time of year.
pppppps Shout out to another original g Dianna Romaguera who makes it a point to text her love to us every single year during Silk week, no matter where she is on this planet. Without her, Silk does not exist.
ppppppps for anyone who attended Silk in Vegas, except iBash, please pass along any thoughts you have on improving the show. We're always listening.
pppppppps Silk 2013 - Las Vegas photos
ppppppppps Each of the teams sacrificed a lot to be here, some hurt their knees, others gave up important family events, some had significant-other-altercations because they went to Vegas without them. We know that it's a sacrifice and we sincerely and humbly appreciate the sacrifice. Thank you.
pppppppppps In 2014, team Greekster turns 15. Maybe it's a testament to our perseverance. Maybe to our craziness. Maybe to our love of the game. In any case, we're blessed to watch great teams compete at their top levels. We're blessed to see the kids grow up. We're fortunate that Greek life respects great entertainment.
ppppppppppps Thank you to Hermano Gil of LUL. He gave greekster and 12 amazing organizations a platform to celebrate all that is right with Greek life. We owe you brother.
pppppppppppps For those Greeks who attended SILK and paid the $29, we made you a promise of witnessing the greatest SILK of all time. We're not done delivering. Stay tuned as we're sending something to your inboxes in a few weeks.
ppppppppppppps What do we do next to top the greatest SILK of all time?
* - fact check: technically they performed in 2010, but the blog post just sounded better that way. :)
** - LSU would be Mayweather in this example.