When most people think about Circle City Classic, they think about a sports game--and rightly so. The event is a huge football game between two major historically black colleges. Tomorrow, the Grambling State University Tigers taking on the Alcorn State University Braves at the Lucas Oil Stadium will be the "meat" of the Indiana Black Expo event. However, when you ask people why they go to Classic or what they remember most, it's always an art component. They might mention the parade or the food but almost everyone will mention the battle of the bands.
When I think of Classic, I think of getting up early to get a good seat at the parade. If there is such a thing as a "black parade" in Indy, well, this is it. Saturday morning before the game, downtown streets are filled with color, dancing, music, old friends and familiar faces. It's always a very exciting morning. There are step teams and drill teams performing routines they've practiced all year. There are sororities and fraternities representing their chapters and affiliations. There are creative floats and decorations. There are interesting costumes and the dance moves are some of the best you've ever seen. It's an art show.
There's much more art to the week-long event than you'd think. On Friday night before the game, there's always a Classic Cabaret at the Convention Center. This year's concert features Johnny Gill and Charlie Wilson with tickets at $49 and $57. There's a pep rally on Monument Circle beforehand where you can catch a sample of the bands and the performers live on the Circle as they get ready for the festivities of Saturday. Also happening on Friday is a Gospel Explosion at the Walker Theatre featuring Vanessa Bell Armstrong. You may notice a trend. There are more performances to what is Circle City Classic than there are sporting events.
On the big day, during the college football game, there is the Battle of the Bands. The Battle features the energy, precision and soulful sounds of black college marching bands. For me, I did my shopping and friend finding during the game but made sure to find my seat for the Battle of the Bands. This half time performance is the energy and highlight of the game.
After the game, there is a Greek Step Show at the Madame Walker Theatre Center. Stepping is an age-old form of dance that members of black fraternities and sororities have made popular. It's the use of body parts to make beats, sounds and steps. This is the culminating event to the weekend - another creative performance.
Circle City Classic is known around the country for being one of the largest cultural events of its kind. Indy should be proud to host the event each year and even more proud of its many artistic components. It's actually easier to take in some performance art than it is to see the game. Here's to a successful Classic 2013!