These feet were made for dancing: Charlie and Jackie, still doing the “Shag” after 30 years

Clearly, I’m in a video mood today, as well as a dance mood.  It therefore seemed entirely appropriate when this video appeared on my Facebook feed.  Before you watch, you might want to know what you’re seeing:

The type of dance they are performing is called Shag. This phenomenon was found in the 1950s by Billy Jeffers and “Chicken” Hicks in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Shag clubs have sprung up from Baltimore to Miami totaling in over 100 clubs. ShagAtlanta, the club Charlie and Jackie belong to, was established in 1989 with the merger of two metropolitan Atlanta shag clubs, the North Atlanta Beach Club and the Atlanta Beach Club. Each year thousands of shaggers get together for the Shag Festival to celebrate Shag.

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  • Earl

    I don’t dance….it’s a church thing, actually.  Except, of course, for Contra Dancing, which is not the least bit like the dancing the church disapproves of…you can check  out Contra on YouTube sometime – it’s REALLY fun!
    However, I LOVED this video!!  It made me smile to watch those two people, who’ve been dancing together so long that know what the other will do before s/he does it…makes it look EASY, baby!!
    Reminded me of an article I read a long time ago, and I actually found it on the Web – “Geek Dancing” it was titled when I saw it.  You really MUST go have a look – it’s quite short.



    Earl, I watched a few rounds of Contra dancing, which I thought was called Square dancing. I never heard the term, “shag” dancing, which I, again, thought was called Jitterbug. 
    Not unlike “Jimmies vs Sprinkles” on ice cream or a bag vs a sack for your groceries.
    Bookworm, thanks for the happy feet post. Loved it. Made me yearn for my old dancing days.

  • GingerB

    Loved this!  The Shag was popular after my “dancing days,” but I don’t think I would have been able to do it.  My feet don’t move that fast!

  • Gringo

    Perhaps not coincidentally, there was a 1960s garage rock band called The Shags.
  The Shags

  • Ymarsakar

    Bruce Lee liked learning the cha cha dance. The leg and balance control relies upon the same principles as other martial arts.
    So if anyone asks you, Book, why you want to dance, just say it is for martial arts training. You can then reverse the claim if someone from the other side asks.

  • Earl

    @Sadie: I understand why it looks like square dancing — the two dance forms share many figures. 
    Contra is, however, VERY different.  Perhaps the most obvious is that we don’t dance in squares, but in long lines. But that’s not the most important thing…although the most important things flows pretty directly from the most obvious.  In square dancing, you can go with friends of equal dancing skill and spend the evening dancing solely with people you know.  In Contra dancing, you start the dance with the partner of your choice (and you are encouraged to pick a new partner for every dance), but you end up dancing with the whole room!!  The reason is that you and your partner progress up (or down) the long line to the end, doing part of the dance with your “neighbors” on either side and other parts with your actual partner.  When you reach the end of the line, you turn around and progress the other way until the dance stops. 
    Thus, in Contra, you are FORCED by the logic and rules of the dance to do figures and moves with dancers of all skill levels, including absolute newbies who may mess up and make you look silly as you attempt to recapture the time and the move everyone else is doing at the moment. You cannot be aloof from others not up to your level – in fact, unskilled dancers learn a great deal from those who are both better dancers and good people.
    No one who takes themselves very seriously ever comes back to a Contra dance for a second try…..and this means that pretty much everyone in the room is someone you’d like to know a bit better.  It’s quite delightful!!

    • SADIE

      Earl, thanks for the explanation. It sounds wonderful, very social and engaging.  Do you recommend wearing steel-tipped boots when challenged newcomers show up. ; )

  • Earl

    Ha!    I suppose it’s funny because I’m usually the guy doing the stepping, and not receiving from others.
    Honestly, no one should feel intimidated.  Every place we’ve gone has had a teaching session for about 30 minutes before the official start time….and experienced people come and assist so that the learning is quicker.  Then, there is a “walk-through” before each dance, where the caller instructs everyone WITHOUT the music, and we learn the sequence of figures by doing them a couple of times.
    You need to understand that I’m neither musical, nor very coordinated when it comes to this kind of thing, and I can do it.  All is done at a walking pace, and very quickly one learns the various figures and gets the hang of it.  If you ARE musical, it’s that much easier, of course – because you can (as my wife exhorts me to) “hear” and “feel” what’s coming and when to start and stop whatever.  I can’t do that…..there are three things going on at any one time – the music, the figure, and the timing.  I can keep track of two of these — if I start listening to the music and enjoying it too much (and it’s FUN music), I’ll miss one of the other two, which isn’t good.
    But, this is one of the only (along with Shape-Note Singing) musical things I do and enjoy at this stage in my life.

    • SADIE

      I can’t hum, let alone sing. The linked video, begins with a little intro and the singing begins at 1.40. It’s not Shape-Note, but the band sings this one song A cappella. Each voice is its own note on the scale.  Together, they’re voices are just stirring and beautiful. Hope you enjoy.