|What is the History of Shag Dancing?|
Question: What is the History of Shag Dancing?
The beginning of the Shag phenomenon was in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. However, in much of Eastern North Carolina, the Shag culture has deep roots. Shag dancing was one of the first examples of African-American culture bleeding over into the mainstream. Young, white college kids would routinely visit racially segregated dances, learn the steps, and bring them back to the predominantly white beach communities for the classic open-air beach parties along the coast. These young dancers asked radio stations to play more rhythm and blues, creating a movement so sturdy that there are still radio stations throughout the Carolinas with solely "beach music" play lists.
Similar to Swing Dancing
Officially born in the 1950s, Shag dancing is similar to Swing dancing and consists of a six-count foot pattern. Billy Jeffers and "Chicken" Hicks are two of the "founding fathers" of Shag, credited with developing the dance by slowing down the original tempo of the jitterbug and incorporating sexier, looser movements into it.
Today there are well over 100 shag clubs stretching from Baltimore to Miami and pushing farther West every day. Many of the clubs offer lessons for people who are interested in learning the art. Dancers from all over the country visit Shag dance clubs on the weekends to have a drink, catch up with old friends and Shag dance until the early hours of the morning.
Shag enthusiasts come from all walks of life, all ages and are some of the nicest down to earth people you can meet on the coast. They simply love to bring new people into the art.
Shag Contests, Events and Celebrations
The epitome of Shag dancing is participation in the numerous events and competitions available along the seaboard. Founded in 1980, the Society of Stranders (SOS) is an organization that enjoys, upholds and perpetuates the traditions of Shag music and dancing. SOS hosts week long events in Myrtle Beach throughout the year, professional competitions and even boasts the only Shag "Hall of Fame" showcasing the best the sport has to offer.
Social Clubs for Dance Enthusiasts
To preserve the history and culture of the dance, social groups like the Atlantic Beach Shag Club from Atlantic Beach, North Carolina span the coastal regions. Comprised of 266 members, the Atlantic Beach Shag Club holds monthly meetings and is always welcoming new members at their numerous functions, cookouts and parties throughout the year. These social groups work not only to share the fun and excitement of Shagging, but work tirelessly to give back to the community through charity fund raisers and benefits.
President of Atlantic Beach Shag Club, Robert E. Lee, a big man with an even bigger personality, said "Atlantic Beach Shag Club was founded in 1990, but became officially chartered in 1996. We recently did a survey of our members and our membership is made up of people form 37 different Eastern North Carolina towns. There are now 45 different social Shag clubs in North Carolina with a total number of members somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000."
Whether you're a professional dancer interested in learning a new art, and participating in Carolina culture, or a beginner looking to explore a unique way to meet new people, Shag dancing is a part of our history that you simply shouldn't miss out on.