I grew up listening to beach music. My folks graduated from small schools in South Carolina, and spent as much time as they could doing the Carolina Shag. I vividly remember stories about Myrtle Beach and Dad’s fraternity parties where they listened to beach music and danced…
They are still into it – going back to North Myrtle Beach at least twice a year, and they are members of a Shag Club here in Atlanta. Mom and Dad taught my brother and me how to shag at a very early age. We can hold a beat and make a couple dents on the dance floor without hurting anyone. It’s like riding a bike – you never forget the steps… one and two, three and four, rock step.
Ocean Drive in North Myrtle Beach is the Shag Mecca. It started with The Pad (now gone), The Pavilion, and the Arcade (a favorite). There are many events a year that draw Shaggers from across the country to North Myrtle Beach – SOS (Spring and Fall with up to 15,000 Shaggers for 10 days of mayhem), Mid-Winters, and numerous dance contests (Professional and amateur). It’s the friendliest bunch of people you’ll ever meet. You spend all morning on the beach, go get a hot dog and a beer at the Pavilion, go take a power nap before dinner, then out to OD for the party. Everybody dances with everybody. You walk everywhere. Libations rivaling Fraternity Formal weekends (not only do you carry one koozie, but you bring a back-up just in case…).
The traditional shag is very male-dominated, where the female does the basic steps and stays with the beat and the guy “shows his stuff”. The purpose is so that everyone can dance with everyone. What has gotten very popular – especially in competitions – is what is known as ‘mirror steps’, where partners mirror each other. This was made popular by Charlie & Jackie – two of the most successful competition dancers out there (and two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet). At about 1:25, you’ll see the ‘mirror step':
The competitions are something else. You’ll see some shag moves that would leave amatures like me in the hospital. They are normally a pretty fast beat, which leads to some good stuff (Autumn & Brenner):
On the other had, the slow songs really show off how good these folks are (LeAnn & Michael):
This is a great one; a couple of non-pros, a great old song…very ‘Ducks’-style:
One of the best parts of the shag is the music. It’s the GREAT old timeless beach music. The kind of music that makes you smell the salt water and taste cheap draft beer. In other words – perfect music. From RCS Headquarters – the top dozen Shag songs (with help from Mom and Dad):
1. Ms. Grace – The Tymes
2. Sunny – Bobby Hebb
3. 60 Minute Man – The Dominos
4. Oogum Boogum Song – Brenton Wood
5. Hey Girl – The Tams
6. What Kind of Fool – The Tams
7. I’ve Been Hurt – Bill Deal – Rhadales
8. Be Young, Be Foolish – The Tams
9. How Sweet It Is – Marvin Gaye
10. Come Get To This – Marvin Gaye
11. More Than a Number – The Drifters
12. Rainy Day Bells – The Globetrotters
I know all of you have your favorites, but remember, this is from the 60’s only. Send me your favorites (any time period) and we can compare notes.
Now, before you judge, remember: you’ll make a lot more friends on the dance floor than on the side. Put on your penny loafers and get to work…