Want Happy Feet? Try Shagging!
By Glen Baldwin-
Guess what didn’t shut down for the winter? The Outer Banks Shag Club! Celebrating those original shag dancers who gathered back in the 1950s at beach parties in Myrtle Beach, the shag beat goes on and on.
Our local club was started by Davis Ballance in 1990. Today, with more than 200 members, it provides soulful nourishment to a predominantly older group, although young couples frequent the dance floor too, eager to learn this Carolinian tradition that appeals to all ages.
Wanda Beasley, a member since 1995, recalls, “Our children would tag along with us Monday nights… and complete their homework and eventually learn the dance steps. They are now 23 and 27 and love to dance to the Carolina’s music.”
Membership is open to everyone (just $15 a year, along with a $3 charge each night to pay the DJ). The range of talent is huge: some who’ve danced—even instructed—for years and some who’ve hardly tapped their feet to music. It doesn’t matter. The friendly encouragement, the camaraderie, and the excitement of sharing such a festive piece of Southern culture, all trump the importance of ability.
So every Monday evening at Kelly’s Restaurant from 6:30 to 9:30, shaggers gather. The evening frequently begins with a class for newcomers and occasionally one for the more advanced. Members come from as far away as Elizabeth City to give their dancing shoes a chance to do oh-so-much-more than partner up and boogie.
As Michelle Copeland, one of Kelly’s favorite servers, says, “It is more than just a dance; it’s a community.” She sees weekly that although members come from different areas and different walks of life, belonging to the OBX Shag Club has made them a family, sharing in each other’s struggles.
Current president Jack Myers joined the club nine years ago with his wife Sally after moving here from West Virginia. He says, “Belonging to the club has given us the opportunity to make many new friendships in the past eight years and we love this style of dance.” He also mentions another benefit for the older folks: brain exercise, since some of the moves are fairly complex.
Dancing is the weekly activity, but members of the OBX Shag Club create other festivities as well: a Spring Pig Pickin’, a Fall Fish Fry, a Harvest/Charity Dance, and a New Year’s Eve Celebration. Besides those, members are frequently invited to activities held by other clubs.
Serious shaggers can go to Myrtle Beach where shagging originated. That city hosts several week-long shag events (SOS) each year which draws thousands of shaggers – kind of a spring break for the older crowd. In other words, if you’d like shagging to be your new pastime (and the local club hopes it does), then your feet have no reason not to stay happy all year round.