Source: Century Ballroom
I grew up 45 miles from the coast of South Carolina and a rite of passage was learning to dance the shag. This wonderful dance is a metaphor for the South, laid back, rhythmic, easy enough to hold a beer in one hand and not spill it. Picture a Southern Bubba in his golf shirt, khakis, and loafers with no socks. Picture his Southern Belle partner in her Lilly Dress and sandals at the Pad or Fat Harold’s or the Spanish Galleon clubs at Ocean Drive Beach which is now North Myrtle Beach. Yes, South Carolina has a state dance. How did this happen?
The term “Carolina Shag” is thought to have developed along the beaches between Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina, during the 1940’s. According to Bo Bryan, a Carolina Shag historian and resident of Beaufort County, the term was coined at Carolina Beach, North Carolina.(Though some South Carolinians might disagree.) The Carolina Shag is a descendant of Carolina Jitterbug, and its predecessor, the Apple which was the white version of the Big Apple (whose origins can be traced to Columbia, South Carolina in 1937) after whites sat (after “jumping the Jim Crow rope”) in the balconies in the black clubs to watch the dancing.The “shag dance” comes from the “Carolina Shag,” which is a partner dance that is mostly done to beach music. The basic step is a six count step, with a rhythm similar to a triple step, triple step, rock step.
Source: shagtour.com The Honorable John, ” Bubber” Snow, who introduced the legislation to declare the shag the State Dance of South Carolina
The Columbia, SC Shag club was instrumental in getting the dance declared the state dance. Governor Dick Riley signed the act making the shag the Official Dance of the State of South Carolina with members of the club present. The Honorable John J. “Bubber” Snow, Jr., sponsored the legislation in 1984.
The shag became famous especially after the 1989 release, Shag; The Movie. Set it 1963, it weaves the tale of four teenagers who take a girls’ trip to Myrtle Beach. The sound track is a tribute to great beach music. The DVD and Blu-Ray are available on Amazon.
I mostly learned to dance the shag by watching others. As a freshman at Columbia college going through hazing, my sophomore superior ordered me to dance the shag with a door knob. Never had a partner like that before. As an adult, an old boyfriend and I took shag lessons at Arthur Murray dance studios. We learned some pretty slick moves. When I met My Favorite Yankee, we had to learn to combine his swing style with the shag.
For an example of truly great shag dancing, enjoy this video. Jackie McGee and Charlie Womble Spotlight Dance- July 13, 2013 ShagAtlanta 2013 ACSC Summer Workshop
This week the Society of Shaggers is hosting its annual Fall Migration to North Myrtle Beach. Parties, live music and shag lessons are part of the events that celebrate this special part of Southern culture.