History of the Shag

The shag originated in the late 1930’s in clubs of Myrtle Beach, SC. The shag has roots in jitterbug and Lindy Hop Swing, which date to the 1920’s. Early Shaggers called themselves “Jitterbugs.” The early swing music was fast, big band swing. The term “Shag” came about over a decade later. By the early ’50s, shag adopted the tempo and feel of rhythm and blues. With dance in the early movies, and still cameras capturing the moves, Shag was a popular dance with the stars.

Shag dancing is essentially an offshoot of swing, specifically, postwar styles like the Lindy Hop and East Coast Swing. Unlike either, however, shag is “slotted” — that is, moving in essentially a straight line – and keeps the footwork close to the ground and the upper body movements to a minimum (although shaggers in competition will use the arms and shoulders more). It’s danced from the waist down, and doesn’t use much hip action.

Shag is a couple’s dance. The basic step is a six (sometimes eight) count and involves a simple forward-and-back motion and a change step at the end; with the six count, this consists of two triple steps, followed by a rock step or and an optional kick-ball change. Men lead with their left, naturally, and women with their right, and the shag is mainly about footwork. “Mirror steps,” xor moves where one partner mimics the other at the same time, as if they were reflections of each other, are also popular.

Hilton Head Island Carolina Shag Club History

The Hilton Head Island Carolina Shag Club was formed on August 23, 1994.

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