Let’s Shag: Dance your way to better health
By Judie Holcomb-Pack
If you grew up in the South, and especially if you spent any time at Myrtle Beach, you are probably familiar with the dance called the “shag” or the “Carolina shag.” Some say the shag originated in Myrtle Beach back in the 1930s, others say it began at Carolina Beach, but either way, it is a dancing style that combines moves of the Charleston, the Swing and the Jitterbug. The shag has been named the official dance of both North and South Carolina.
Diehard shaggers have their own club, “The Society of Stranders” or “SOS.” (Their official website is www.shagdance.com.) There is even a Competitive Shaggers Association and a Beach Shaggers National Hall of Fame. While you may think the shag is a Boomers dance thing, increasingly young people are discovering the fun and challenge of shagging. There are local venues that cater to Beach music and shagging, and several places, such as local recreation centers, offer dance lessons.
Mickey and Penny Hull have been shagging for over 16 years, traveling and dancing their way across several states. They have also been competing in shag contests, but now they focus most of their time teaching what has become their passion.
The Hulls have danced on stage several times at the Carolina Beach Music Awards at North Myrtle Beach, competed at the U.S. Open in Anaheim, Calif., and later joined the Triad Shag Team, which took First Place at the National Shag Dance Championships and Second Place at the Grand Nationals in 2006. They have also competed in numerous shag contests with their crowning achievement attaining Pro Status in the Shag Preservation Association circuit in 2009. But their biggest surprise was being inducted into the National Living Legends of Dance in November 2014.
Penny remarked, “To me, shagging is the best form of exercise!” What she enjoys most about dancing is “meeting new people and watching people go from not knowing how to do the “basic” into dancing!”
Mickey agreed. He said, “Carolina shag to me is all about the music and the movement of the dance. Also, it mentally frees my mind and helps with my coordination and enables my wife and I to be involved with a form of exercise that we both love.”
Mickey and Penny continue to be active with teaching their junior shaggers and volunteer every July at the beach for Junior SOS. They are active members of the Winston-Salem Shag Club, where they teach group lessons every Monday and Thursday night. They also teach private lessons to individuals and couples at the dance studio in their home.
Penny added, “We believe that we have the best friends from all over in the shag world. I couldn’t imagine my life without everything I have learned mentally and physically from doing the Carolina Shag.”
What is the appeal of shagging? If you’re a Boomer, the dance and the beach music take you back to a more carefree time in your youth. If you are a Winston-Salem local, the music and dance help you relive those wonderful memories of shagging at Dick Bennett’s HiFi or on the porch at Crystal Lake.
The Hulls summed it up with this quote: “Families that dance together stays together!”