Early History – Part 2

Rick Barry recalls receiving a call from Algie. “We’re going to have dance lessons at Cheryl’s and do some Shagging.” More than thirty people showed up for the first set of lessons.

In 1994, someone told Dick Ryan, “You got to go to the Shag Club.” He replied, “There isn’t one. I know everyone who Shags on the island.” His friend insisted one had formed. Dick went to Cheryl’s and found Bob Bender with all the cute women. Dick’s game was on.

In early May 1994, an announcement of Shag lessons starting May 12th appeared in the “Low Country Life” section of The Island Packet. This would be the second set of lessons Ellen Taylor would conduct. As a teaser, the notice also mentioned that The Carolina Shag Club of Hilton Head would sponsor an open house on May 7th at Cheryl’s Le Cabaret where Ellen Taylor and club members would demonstrate Shag dancing. In early June 1994, the newly formed Hilton Head Island Carolina Shag Club was featured on the first page of the “Low Country Life” section of The Island Packet. The article said over one hundred people had already joined the club. In a sidebar to the Shag article was an invitation to the public to a “Welcome to Shag” Party 5:00 to 8:30 at Cheryl’s Le Cabaret Piano Bar and an announcement that group lessons for beginners would start again June 14th. The cost of the party was $2.00 for members, $5.00 for guests.

The first club newsletter was published in July 1994. The club logo on the newsletter was an outline of the state of South Carolina with a star showing where Hilton Head Island was. Inside the state outline were two Shag dancers on a beach with a palm tree and quarter moon in the background. At the time of the first newsletter HHICSC officers were:

  • Algie Grubbs, President,
  • George Gagliardi, President Elect,
  • Mary Frances Stahler, Vice President,
  • Roxanne Cullinane, Secretary,
  • Jerry McElroy, Treasurer
  • Mac MacDonald, Chief Sergeant-at-Arms

In the first President’s message, Algie Grubbs said the club had been active for three months and had more than one hundred twenty-five members. The club had already graduated five Basic classes (104 students) and one Intermediate class (28 students). The classes were given on Tuesday nights at Cheryl’s Le Cabaret.

The first newsletter also announced a club dance on July 14, 1994 at the Elk’s Lodge. The DJ for the dance was Jesse Griffin. It was to be the second monthly dance by the new club. In June and July 1994, newspaper listings for Le Cabaret indicated the Hilton Head Island Carolina Shag Club met there on Thursdays at seven p.m.

The club’s Shag dance lessons became so popular that at one point the club had lessons three times a week. On Friday nights, a HHICSC DJ would set up AV equipment in Signals Lounge and play Beach Music from 7:00-9:00 p.m. for the members. Many of the members stayed around for the live music that started at nine p.m. The first club DJ was Tex Lowther. Hal Lane (Captain Pookie) was the second club DJ.

Meanwhile, Algie’s By-laws committee developed By-Laws which the club adopted in August 1994 with the stated purpose of:

To organize an incorporated non-profit organization for the mutual enjoyment of the people who like to shag or people who want to shag. The primary purpose is of a social nature with involvement in other activity as approved by the Board of Directors.

On August 22, 1994 George Gagliardi submitted a non-profit incorporation to the South Carolina Secretary of State. The Hilton Head Island Carolina Shag Club applied for membership/recognition in the Association of Carolina Shag Clubs. The application was approved in late 1994 and the club was advised in January 1995.