VERY smooth and VERY laid-back, this 'cool' style is commonly known as simply "the Shag")
Thank you Ellen and JoJo for showing us what 			good shaggin' looks like!!
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... page updated:  December 31, 2000

First, for the benefit of most northerners, Carolina Shag is danced to a wide range music styles (R&B, Rock, Oldies, Disco, Funk, Big Bands... whatever) where the tempo is in a range of 110 to 130 Beats Per Minute (BPM)... eg. Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville", the Beach Boy's "Kokomo", the Bee Gee's "Alone", Santana's "Smooth", etc.

Perhaps the best "quick hit" description we've heard to describe this dance to the uninitiated -- most recently via Shag icon Charlie Womble at a workshop in Rochester NY -- is that

"Shag is like Jitterbug on Valium"

To which I would now add (for the benefit of some dancers we've seen in London), it's what your bouncy, jerky "swing" might look like if you didn't have your finger in an electical socket.

There is an old addage that a picture is worth a thousand words.    Nowhere does this become more accutely relevant than in trying to describe a form of dance not known in a given area.    The challenge is compounded by the movement involved ... making it akin to requiring a thousand pictures (a million words?).    Worse, the task in the case of Shag is even more daunting in light of northern preconceptions of what swing dancing should look like.

Kurt Lichtmann, who teaches Swing Dancing at Cornell University's Faculty of Physical Education in Ithaca NY, has made the following observation ...

An estimated less than 2% of all swing dancers have any accurate idea of what swing forms outside of their region look like (the vast majority of Northern swing dancers have never seen Shag; the vast majority of Southern Shaggers have never seen Jitterbug or Lindy Hop).   Or else, they may have a distorted image based on observing an eccentric version of the dance.
Rather than re-inventing the wheel and/or falling into the trap of writing a 'book' here, we've opted to point visitors to two existing desriptions of Carolina Shag...
  • Click here for a description we wrote in 1997 for a Toronto publication, during our early attempts to spread the "gospel of Shag" up here in Hockeyland.

  • Click here for a description of Shag by the aforementioned Kurt Lichtmann as he sought to share this 'new' form of Swing with the dynamic Lindy Hop and WCS dance communities in up-state New York.

But, really, the only way to truly comprehend the Carolina Shag is to see it done, and better yet, to see it being done by a roomful of seasoned shaggers (20 to 200 couples, depending on the venue!!), all gliding effortlessly to some funky R&B, Motown, or whatever.    Awesome!!

BTW, if you ever do get a chance to see a scene like this, you'll likely also be struck by the incredible range of ages out there dancing at the same time ...sometimes partnered very inter-generationally from song-to-song.    While the majority of active shaggers span every decade from twentysomethings to retirees, we've met 9 and 90+ year-olds who'll shag every chance they get!


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