What is the SHAG?

What is Beach Music

What is SOS?

What is the SHAG?
Newcomers to the area often ask the questions above.  Here is a quick explanation of the “way of life” you are about to experience. First, what is the Shag?  Well it’s not what you heard about in Austin Powers’ movies!  Our “Shag” is a dance style, very similar to the jitterbug but done at a much slower and smoother pace.  After all, it’s hot down here and when you’re dancin’ in the sand with a drink in your hand, you have to be able to dance so as not to work up a sweat and not to spill your drink! It’s always up for debate as to where exactly the “Shag” dance was born.  North Myrtle Beach claims it, Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach claims it, so does Virginia Beach as well as many beaches on the Florida coast.  However, the overwhelming percentage of Shaggers attribute North Myrtle Beach and its Ocean Drive area to be the Mecca of Shaggin’ and Beach Music and where the dance was invented.  Thus, thousands and thousands of Shaggers from all over the East coast gather three times a year on Ocean Drive to celebrate and preserve Beach Music and Shag Dancing at SOS (see SOS explanation later.) “Historic” findings are varied depending on who you talk to or what book you read.  One version I heard was that in the late 40’s when African American teenagers were not allowed in the same coastal beach clubs as white teenagers, they danced right outside the clubs on the beach to the music they heard coming from inside.  When the white teens would venture outside for a breath of air, they saw the African American teens dancing differently to it.  They were used to jitterbugging and Lindy Hopping and found this new way of dancing intriguing.  As they returned to their clubs, the white teens started imitating their African American counterparts and experimenting with the steps they had seen danced on the beach.  This new dance seemingly invented to dance in the sand, was slower, smoother and at times, seductive and thus the Shag was born.  Today you will see lots of “old-timers” dancing the Shag as originally created but you will also see many variations on the dance steps based on who the people took lessons from and where the instructor grew up.  It’s all pretty much the same though and a whole lot of fun to dance.  Find yourself an instructor and learn how to Shag…you’ll love it!


What is Beach Music?
Second, what is Beach Music?  In the old days beach music consisted of 1940’s and 50’s R&B music recorded by African American artists of the times.  DooWop of the 50’s which included music by both African American and white artists (most from South Philly) was added and in the 60’s, Motown music with artists such as Marvin Gaye, Jackie Wilson, The Temptations and others became popular music in the beach clubs.  Starting in the 70’s and 80’s through the present, groups like the Chairman of the Board, The Embers, and more recently, Band of Oz, Fantastic Shakers, Craig Woolard Band, were all resident to the Carolinas and they started recording covers of oldies and writing and recording new songs with local recording companies.  These groups worked the “Shrimp & Grits” or “Bible Belt” circuit up and down the east coast from the Carolinas north to Virginia and south to Florida and Shag clubs sprouted all over the southeast coastal areas.  These same groups are still working the circuit today joined by some newer artists, Jim Quick and Coastline, The Rick Strickland Band and The Carolina Breakers, who mainly write, record and perform their own music.  Even many country songs and Top 40 songs of today, that have a R&B influence and the right tempo have crossed over and been accepted by beach music lovers…if you can shag to it, it’s beach music…no limits today.


What is SOS?
Finally, what is SOS?  It is not the Society of Shaggers as a lot of people might think.  It is the Society of Stranders meaning a society of those of us who frequent the strand areas of beaches up and down the east coast to listen to beach music and Shag dance in the beach clubs.  SOS is the “money making” branch of the ACSC (Association of Carolina Shag Clubs) of which Coastal Shag Club is a member and joins over 90 other shag clubs.  A club must meet certain ACSC criteria to be a member and thus reaps some rewards from membership.  The ACSC meets three times a year, Mid-Winter SOS, a Winter Workshop (scheduled at a large shag club location,) Spring SOS and Fall SOS.  A member club must send a representative to three of the four meetings to retain its membership.  ACSC is the governing body and creates rules and regulations by which the clubs operate and it controls the SOS events.  Their existence is imperative for the preservation of beach music and shag dancing for the next generations.  You can be an individual member of SOS by purchasing an SOS card.  These cards are sold through the local shag clubs and this is the primary way for the ACSC to make money for their major charity, provide a huge raffle prize, and continue operating.  During each SOS event in North Myrtle Beach, many of the clubs have agreed to support the SOS by requiring that you must have an SOS card to enter their clubs.  There are a few exceptions to this such as the very popular “Pavilion” located on the beach at Ocean Drive and Main Street.  You can purchase an SOS card from your local shag club during the months of October-early January at a discount ($30) or you can one at locations in NMB during each SOS for $35.

For more information on SOS DATES - click here.  Additional information can be found on the SOS website: www.shagdance.com   If you have any other questions about Beach Music, Shagging, ACSC, SOS, North Myrtle Beach/Ocean Drive, beach clubs, etc., just ask anyone on the CSC Board and we’ll be happy to help you learn about the best way to have fun! KEEP SHAGGIN’ LIKE NOBODY’S WATCHIN’ !

 

Authored by Jo Sellers