Looking for a dance with beach roots? Take a break from riding the waves, perfecting your tan, or searching for seashells during your annual beach vacation to learn a dance that has its roots by the shore.
Beach music gained popularity in the 1940s along the shores of South Carolina, according to Sciway, an online resource for the state. Popular bands recognized for their beach vibe included R&B groups such as The Four Tops, The Temptations, and The Drifters. Many historians credit beach music with helping African American artists gain mainstream appeal at a time when segregation was still a reality in the South. The upbeat tunes prompted a new dance called the shag. The shag’s roots lie in African American communities along the South Carolina coast during the 1930s, but the dance craze gained universal appeal as the popularity of beach music exploded in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The quick partner dance is a form of swing dancing that features a six-count, eight-step pattern danced in a slot.
The shag is recognized as the state dance of South Carolina, and every winter Myrtle Beach holds the National Shag Dance Championships to highlight the city’s dance and musical history. Several clubs along the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach still play beach music for energetic vacationers hoping to have a fun night out on the town.
Check out these dancers enjoying the fun, laid-back style of the shag.
Performers Jay Rollins and Tobitha Stewart dance the Carolina Shag at the 2019 USA Grand National Dance Championships in Atlanta. The couple shag to “Fever,” which was originally released by Little Willie John in 1956.
Inspired by the movie, “Shag,” a coming of age film that details the adventures of several teenage girls who head to Myrtle Beach for spring break, the couple in this clip recreated one of the movie’s famous dance scenes for their wedding. The bride, who is from Spartanburg, South Carolina, choreographed the dance to the beach tune, “Stagger Lee,” by Lloyd Price.
Jeremy Webb and Mandy Holt dance the shag to “Poison Ivy,” by “The Coasters,” at the Shaggers Hardwood Championship last year in North Myrtle Beach.
Certified instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios can help you and your favorite dance partner learn to shag before heading to the beach this summer. Learning to shag has the added bonus of allowing you to indulge in vacation meals and fruity cocktails without worrying about gaining a few pounds. Ballroom dancing is a great combination of physical activity, social interaction, and mental stimulation. Fred Astaire Dance Studios is the global leader in ballroom dance instruction and offers private or group lessons at its local studios, as well as an Online Dance Platform allowing you to take lessons from your living room.
Take a trip to the beach on the dance floor this summer by learning to shag. Contact your local Fred Astaire Dance Studios location to schedule a future lesson.