For Boston College step team Sexual Chocolate, 2012 was a big year. As soon as it was announced that the group had won that spring’s ALC Showdown, its members-and several alumni who traveled to see the performance-rushed the Conte Forum stage. It was a powerful moment, the first Showdown victory for the dance team, which was founded in the summer of 1999. For the audience, Sexual Chocolate’s win was a victory just like any other, but for members current and past at the performance that night, it meant much more: legitimacy.
The 2012 Showdown victory meant Sexual Chocolate could compete to win with any dance group on campus, and for the members of the organization, who identify their community as the closest thing to a fraternity at BC, this was everything.
This year, Sexual Chocolate is celebrating its 15-year anniversary, and for its senior members, living up and moving beyond the standards set in 2012 is the driving force in rehearsals. Their work is a balancing act: keeping with tradition, while adding some completely new elements. When it comes to Sexual Chocolate’s choreography, there’s a constant impetus to add new steps into the playbook. The Scene sat down with Sexual Chocolate’s executive board, discussing their history of brotherhood-the quirky nicknames, the interchanging skits, the memories, the camaraderie, and the future.
The Heights: When did you first become a member of Sexual Chocolate, and why did you decide to join?
Peters: Freshman year, I remember walking by the tables on student activities day … I knew a lot about the camaraderie and the whole brotherhood-feel that they advertised.
Itua: I was just looking for a group or a place that could foster brotherhood, so once I joined the team freshman year I guess it gave me exactly what I was looking for.
Jean: I joined freshman year, as well. In college I wanted to join a fraternity, and SC performed at my orientation when I went … they said that they’re the best thing for that on campus because campus isn’t allowed to have fraternities. But they do believe wholeheartedly in the brotherhood aspect, so that’s exactly what motivated me to try out.
Wright: Well, I’m the awkward one-I joined my sophomore year. I basically tried out because me and a current member said that we would try out together. And he made it his freshman year and I kind of left him, so I figured I’d join him my sophomore year and I happened to make it, so that’s why I joined.
Felix: I became a member during my freshman year. I did a program called the College Transition Program. It was summer right before coming to Boston College. It was a 10-day program and I saw a few members from Sexual Chocolate already. For me, my reasoning was I wanted a new challenge, a new experience … They were pushing for brotherhood, and that’s what really got me.
The Heights: Did you have any dancing experience beforehand? If not, can you describe the transition into the group? What were your initial impressions?
Peters: No [laughs]. I’m probably the worst dancer that you could have imagined, at least before joining the team … Being real. It was hard, just learning basic choreography was something that I had to put a lot more effort into … You’re your toughest critic, so that was the hardest part-being able to loosen up and have a little bit of confidence in yourself.
Itua: Probably the last time I did any choreography was in middle school. I would say I thought I was a person that was able to dance. I just never took the opportunity in HS and middle school to do it.
Jean: I had no dancing experience either. But I was able to pick up on the steps very quickly … I had the guys to help me out along the way.
Wright: I had no dancing experience but I had natural rhythm, I guess [laughs]. For hardships, I’d say it would be not comparing myself to the other newbies.
Felix: I had no idea what step was, how to step, or anything. They kept stressing during the tryout week or during student involvement fair that you don’t need any prior experience, and you don’t need to know how to step. I was like, okay, let me try it out.
The Heights: What’s the tryout process like?
Itua: We have our annual showcase in Eagle’s Nest. Every year we take the students that try out and place them in the show condition. Prepare them for what we do during the school year. It’s just our way of gauging how well they learn the steps and also how ready they are for a show condition, being in front of a crowd of students. It’s just our own kind of test for them.
Peters: Ours is a week-long tryout process, so it gives the people who really want it and the people who really need it the chance to work on it and then eventually prove themselves.
The Heights: In your own words, how would you describe Sexual Chocolate’s style of dance, to someone who has never seen one of your shows before?
Peters: It’s a lot of energy. It’s a mix of power and sexy, I would say.
Itua: I think we do a good job of juxtaposing the powerful, energetic stepping with theatrical, more comedic and funny shows.
Jean: Very precise heavy stepping.
Felix: It’s a combination of claps and stomps to make a rhythmic beat … Along with being an expression of character and personality … We’re all in unison when we go perform, but I think everyone has their own personal style.
The Heights: The group sometimes incorporates skits into the performances. How do you think the skits enhance or affect the overall show?
Peters: It makes what we do accessible to the audience … It just makes for good entertainment … I’d say we’re a pretty funny bunch.
Jean: It keeps a nice conversation with people.
Wright: The way I see it is that our comedy is like giving the crowd all the current events that we find funny and relating it to them in a funny way so we can enjoy telling you and you can enjoy hearing it.
Felix: Skits in general, I think that’s a big part of who we are, our team.
The Heights: How do you keep your performances fresh and different?
Peters: Different themes. A lot of our skits are based off of pop culture, so that’s ever- changing.
Itua: We’re always looking to progress … Especially when it comes to steps-our stepping has changed so much and it changed our reputation to one that people see us as a very respected step team, as well as just a team on campus.
Jean: I definitely think new choreo is big because for me it’s not only the captains that make the choreo. We’re definitely pushing our younger members to make steps.
Wright: Off of what Scott said, I think the steps are most important part. When I think of the steps, I think of the captains giving us the opportunity to leave an imprint on SC.
The Heights: Your Valentine’s Day show is coming up-can we get a sneak preview of that?
Jean: Get ready for laughs and a great time.
The Heights: What makes Sexual Chocolate unique as a dance group?
Peters: I think what makes us different as a dance group is that we’re more than just a dance group … I feel like this team especially, internally and externally, it’s just brotherhood, brotherhood, brotherhood.
Itua: I think our tradition is what makes us most unique on campus. There’s a lot of different distinct rituals that we keep close to us. Very exclusive, so that’s one thing we hold onto.
Jean: We’re very embedded in our history. A big part is to know who we are and what we’re founded upon … it helps us guide our path down for how we take on challenges and go through obstacles.
Wright: I feel like an important thing for us is that what happens in the practice rooms stays in the practice rooms … unless you’re interviewing us.
Felix: Our philosophy and where we came from-the goals and aspirations we have as a team I think foundationally the brotherhood thing is such a part of it … It’s something that’s unique to our team and something that’s driven my experience in Sexual Chocolate.
The Heights: Aside from dancing, what else do you gain from being part of Sexual Chocolate, and what will you take from your experiences going forward?
Peters: The relationships, but also some values and personality traits, like worth ethic. SC is also about discipline, it’s about learning how to manage your time. It’s about contextualizing your life and just knowing what it feels like to be part of something bigger than yourself.
Jean: What I definitely take from SC is a transformative process that developed me into the person I am today … You come into SC as you are, but you definitely leave as a man.
Wright: When I think of SC, I think of an invisible tattoo that only we can see … When I look back at BC it’s more than just I’m an Eagle. I’m an Eagle and I have a connection to a certain group of guys on this campus that’s more than just my friend circle. It’s kind of like an innocent gang [laughs]. It’s just a group of guys who, honestly, you’ve been through a lot with after your four years, like an invisible tattoo.
Peters: Tattoos and gangs, probably something you shouldn’t take out of context.
Felix: Just learning a new craft, and learning to step, something I’ve never tried before.
The Heights: What would you say is the most special moment you’ve had so far with the team?
Itua: That’s easy. ALC Showdown win in 2012 … That right there was a mark, for BC to say that we’re finally legit, and nobody can say anything about that.
Peters: There are moments in the practice room when things relax and we’re all just being really goofy … It’s such a good feeling-there’s just little moments of happiness.
Wright: I didn’t live that whole ALC Showdown moment when I joined my sophomore year, but I was here when we had our conversations after last year’s Showdown, even though we didn’t win … I really liked what the captains said to us, as well as the alumni-it was like, “You know, you guys can move past this, you guys put your effort into this, and you guys put your all.” So I just really like when people are expressive about their feelings. I’m a big communication guy.
The Heights: What are some things you guys do to bond outside of practice?
Peters: We volunteer together, we obviously hang out on weekends, and we go to the gym together.
Itua: I know you asked outside of practice, but we just have a lot of practice time … That alone creates a strong bond … so we just hold that around with us when we’re walking around with our gear or anytime we meet with each other.
Jean: For me it’s a lot of older brother, little brother moments, where you really have that one-on-one time with someone who’s not your year. Just with anything. I’ve had alumni who have definitely taken me in Rubenstein and said, “Are you hungry? I’m cooking. Come down.” Or, “You’re doing homework? Are you sure you’re doing homework? Come here and do your homework here so I actually know you’re doing it.” And I want that to happen with my younger brothers on the team.
Wright: The moments for me are when we live in our living room … I really like when we’re able to just connect with each other on a deeper level.
Felix: We’re always around each other and we’re just really cool with each other, too.
The Heights: What are your thoughts going into Showdown this year?
Peters: The whole idea of winning and losing to me isn’t really a thought to dwell on. It’s more like, let’s put on the best show that we can, and you know there is a competitive dimension to it, but it’s like a healthy competition, I would say … It’s exciting, it’s like Christmas-you can feel it in the air.
Itua: I’m a very competitive person, and that’s something that will never change … But I think as I’ve grown, probably by junior year, you learn to appreciate the process more than the result.
Jean: Coming into Showdown, my mindset is just to go above and beyond the bar that’s already been set … The Toy Story show is still a fan favorite-people go on YouTube to watch it. Especially in my senior year, I want to leave that mark.
The Heights: What’s your Sexual Chocolate nickname, and what’s the story behind it?
Itua: I didn’t create my name. We get suggestions from girls and see what would be catchy and what we think people will like. This is a name we hold for years after you graduate, people remember you buy that name, and I went through a few ideas … I came up with Midnite Mocha.
Jean: Every name is unique, so we’re not allowed to have repeats. This is our 15th year of being on the team, so choices are not that many … I definitely settled on Chocolate Fixation because the girls are fixated on the chocolate.
Felix: They call me Dulce Delicious. It’s like Dulce de Leche, but it’s a little bit sweeter.
Wright: Mine is simple. I wanted my name to have the same first letters. My name is Double Dipped Delight.
Peters: The key name that anyone would go to is White Chocolate. I’m from the Boston area, and a friend came up with Boston Cream. And I went to Dunkin’ Donuts at one point and I saw the tag that said Boston Cream and I was like, yes. It was a weird interaction with the person who worked there because I started giggling to myself a little bit.
The Heights: So what’s your favorite kind of chocolate?
Peters: The Lindt truffles, milk chocolate ones.
Itua: My first show, I had one line that said, I have a Kit Kat bar, and that’s actually my favorite kind of chocolate.
Jean: I’m a Snickers man.
Felix: Hershey’s cookies and cream.
Wright: Anything with white chocolate.
Ariana Igneri and Michelle Tomassi contributed to this report.