The officers were:
President Vesta Jones started the year with gracious praise for all that the Club had accomplished in four years; growing in size and reputation and becoming known as a warm, friendly group of shaggers who love to learn and practice and welcome strangers to shag. As she put it, “This culture continues to draw me forward into it…like finding extra chapters when I’ve finished reading a favorite book.” Her appreciation and love of shag were evident when she wrote in the President’s Column… “The (shag) moves are graceful, the rhythms are so upbeat and enticing, and the dancers’ respect is mutual – when the man is doing one of his male lead moves, the woman holds her basic and does not compete. The mirror steps are done as a flowing team. The woman complements the process with graceful, subtle additions in her own moves. The result is fun to watch, complex, interesting and – well – graceful.”
National Living Legends of Dance and National Shag Competitors, John and Joan English presented workshops in basics, intermediate and advanced Shag on January 10, 1998, at Blackie’s with a dance that night at Kenwood Country Club. It was a lovely event, with light hors d’oeuvres catered by Kenwood.
Just two months later, Charlie Womble and Jackie McGee, 1996 U.S. Open Champions and 9 times National Shag Champions, presented workshops in beginner, intermediate and advanced Shag on March 7th at Blackie’s with a dance that night at the Army-Navy Country Club in Arlington. Jerry Canada and Craig Jennings were the deejays. It was a deluxe event with lavish catered food and dessert tables. 100 people attended.
In May, for the very first time, NVSC participated in the SOS Spring Parade and WON FIRST PLACE in the Marching Troop category. Pauline Easby-Smith masterminded the theme: a marching jukebox (Dennis Gehley) surrounded by 15 dancing NVSC members holding large records made from cardboard with classic shag song titles. Kathryn Quattrone drove her red Saab convertible at the front of the procession sporting the club’s banner, while Nancy Gehley rode in the passenger seat videotaping the crowd.
Around this same time, club members sought more opportunities to be together in social exchange and so they began gathering on Friday evenings and occasionally on Sunday afternoons at Oldies Music Legends in Manassas. The atmosphere was friendly and casual with much laughter and camaraderie. The deejay willingly played the beach music the shaggers provided him. This was another chance to show Shag as the dance of choice and Legends soon became the choice place to be on Friday night!
Vesta Jones created “Go On Record For Charity” as a club fundraiser for Hospice. NVSC members donated old records. The old 45s and 33s were decorated and used as table or wall decorations for club parties. Members could sign their name on the record, in glitter, for a donation of only $5 for a 45rpm and $8 for a 33rpm.
Janis Grimes and Joan McKinney began an earnest search for young juniors to participate in the NVSC-sponsored Junior Shagger’s Association, offering free shag lessons to anyone under the age of 21. The policy of free lessons and free admission to shag dance events for juniors less than 21 years of age continued into the year 2000 and beyond.
WHEW! THE NORTHERN VIRGINIA SHAG CLUB IS ON FIRE AND BURNING WITH LOVE-IN-ACTION!
The membership fee remained at $15 and the cover charge at Blackie’s Déjà vu, now being referred to as Lulu’s, was a mere $2.
Third Annual Capital Shag Classic, 1998 – Valerie Swiger coordinated the Third Annual Capital Shag Classic, June 26-28 at Howard Johnson’s in Alexandria. Featured were out-of-town deejay Joanne Johnson, and locals Larry Jones and Craig Jennings. Free shag workshops were taught: beginner by Larry and Shirley Jones, and intermediate and advanced by Norman Aldredge and Leslie Melton, upcoming junior champions featured on the music video “SHAGGIN’ ON THE BOULEVARD (Alabama). 200 tickets sold.
ERNEST REFLECTS ON THE THIRD ANNUAL CAPITAL SHAG CLASSIC
Hey Vern! Drop what you’re doin’ because I’m not foolin’, we got a HOT ONE here. We’re talkin’ hotter than that magazine centerfold you’re droolin’ on. Hotter than a Jalapeno pepper sittin’ on my Toyota radiator when the air conditioning is runnin’ full blast. Even hotter than those hard little red crunchy things in your kung pow chicken. You know, those things that make steam come out of your ears and your eyes water and your tongue burn so much you want to lick an iceberg. This is hotter!
Vern, take it from me, Mr. Party Con-know-sewer: the Northern Virginia Shag Club’s Third Annual Capital Shag Classic was the hottest thing on the East Coast June 26, 27, and 28. Just when I thought I had seen everything that those NVSC folks had to offer down in Myrtle Beach at SOS, what with their paradin’ and dancin’ and all, they turn around and teach this ol’ dog that they can be like fine wind when it comes to hosting a primo party: you just don’t want to let go of that bottle in your paper sack, even when it’s done. Let me share some Classic highlights with you.
Things were jumpin’ Friday night. The ballroom got real hot real fast, the music was hot ‘cause the DJs definitely knew their stuff, and dancers – moi included – were dippin’, drippin’, flippin’, slippin’, even partially strippin’. Edna was on fire, lookin’ hotter than I can talk about in a family publication like this one, if you catch my drift. They played some real funny games on the dance floor, a pack of party animals from Steel City was howlin’, and I knew I had died and gone to shag heaven when lady DJ Joanne Johnson added to my sensory extravaganza of free pours, finger food, and Dave Shipp’s souvenir T-shirts from earlier in the day.
Saturday, Vern, was so packed full of good stuff that it was even better than those contests to see how many marshmallows you can fit in your mouth before they start to ooze out down your chin. Even a man with my obvious mental and physical talents could not help but be impressed by how easy Larry and Shirley Jones made the basic shag lesson. Grand Nationals Junior Shag Division champions Norman Aldredge and Leslie Melton dazzled us all with their intermediate and advanced shag lessons. By early afternoon, those instructors had my brain pretty well drained, even before I added some alcoholic free pour fuel to the fire.
Things got even better after one of the most dee-lishus dinners you’ve ever stuck your fork in. We saw dance demonstrations that had my head spinnin’. There was Larry Jones and 1998 Shag Icon Award recipient Earl Robinson, a National Living Legend, taking turns trying to keep up while Hall of Famer and National Living Legend Joanne Johnson shook that thing. Living Legend Craig Hutchinson showed us Hustle moves that I might have been able to learn if his lovely wife, Lucy Renzi, had not been so darn distractin’. (Simmer down, Edna.) Those D.C. Hand Dancing gents like Joe King, Steve Mitchell, and Greg Owens with their incredible ladies got me and Edna thinking about maybe takin’ a lesson or two to sort of broaden our dance rep-per-twah. Three styles of shag demonstrated by Earl Robinson and the lovely Beverly Jones; Larry & Shirley Jones; and Norman & Leslie were downright inspirational. I’m not sure we’ve got the energy to do much more than stand back in awe at those folks who showed us the Lindy and that Zydeco thing, but they sure had our feet stompin’ and our hearts racin’ just watchin.’ After dinner and demos, me and Edna shagged well past the midnight hour ‘til all our little dogs were barkin’ for relief.
By the time Sunday morning rolled around, I was glad to be able to cool my jets in the ballroom with a shag gospel hour and cleared-out dance floor. There was a mountain of sweet rolls for me and Edna ‘cause many folks had left town early. Or maybe they were sleepin’ late. Pity them not, for we did justice to those rolls. We also gave a silent prayer of thanks to whomever that kind soul was that took all the hot air with him.
So trust me on this one – it’s not too early to start thinkin’ about getting’ in shape for the Fourth Annual Capital Shag Classic in 1999. Set aside the last weekend in June. Make plans now to wash your truck and grab your partner (or wash your partner and grab your truck). I don’t know if Gary Salpini, Dave Rapson, and their crew can make that dance floor any better than they did this year – it was as smooth as a Vaseline-covered baby’s butt. And just think: by this time next year, NVSC will have even more members to party with. I get hot all over again just picturin’ that. That means time to go, my amigo. Speakin’ of smooth and hot, Vern: if you need me for anything, you can find me dancin’ and shaggin’ on the boulevard….
President Vesta Jones continued to generate that special, unique quality at the heart of the Club’s success – teamwork! She maintained the same sense of pride for the club and conveyed the same zeal for club growth and promotion that brought it from the initial 15 members to almost 300 members in just five years with acclaim and wonderful comments coming from many directions. She did this through praise, encouragement, leadership and support. She included everyone in club activities. Her high energy spilled over to touch all. She said, “What an incredible team this club is!”
The Club had 300 members. Famed shag instructors were always willing to come from the southeast to Northern Virginia to teach Carolina Shag style and technique.
Yes, it was against incredible odds that these few founding members and the other members that followed would penetrate the long-established dance community in the congested, work-oriented, small, self-contained cities of Metropolitan D.C., MD, and Northern VA – and introduce a completely unknown dance and a new kind of music. Amazing was the manner in which West Coast Swing and D.C. Hand Dance came into greater light, brought together with Carolina Shag by wonderful, compatible Shag/Beach Music. Through desire, heart, love, energy, spirit, passion and teamwork, these dedicated few gave locals a new dance, free dance lessons, and energizing music; and in the sharing with swing and hand dance, influenced them to alter and expand their footwork, all the while managing to emphasize and maintain the attitude, style and technique of southeastern Carolina Shag. Amazing still, the NVSC, it seems, was a pivotal point at which shag expanded west and north. Thus, NVSC contributed in the initial lifting of Carolina Shag and Beach Music from their roots in the southeast up into greater National recognition. Those early days, for those who participated, were unforgettable, and if anything about the 90’s is to be remembered, it has to be the manner in which everyone worked together with a common love – to promote and preserve Carolina Shag and Beach Music.
Living Legend Earl Robinson and the lovely Beverly Jones presented beginner, intermediate and advanced workshops on August 22, 1998, at Blackie’s. A dance followed that evening at Ft. Myer Community Center. Jerry Canada was the deejay.
Faithfully publishing the Shag Rag newsletter every month since March 1994, Janis Grimes completed her role as Editor with the July 1998 issue. Valerie Swiger took over the job on August 1998 with dedication and caring, making the newsletter informative, interesting, friendly, humorous and entertaining. She also initiated “Hello Shagger” emails to inform members of events and information they needed.
VAL >rocks! She makes it appear so easy, so ho-hum. “Oh, sure, I’ll take over the duties of Membership Chairman” and do the job for five consecutive years…and “Yes, I will assume the role of Newsletter Editor” and publish and distribute the newsletter monthly for 5 years in a row (into the year 2003 and still going). “Yes, I’ll Chair the Annual Capital Shag Classic”…and “Yes, I’ll email Club members information regarding all Club events” and perform the task into 2003 and possibly beyond. “Oh, and yes, I’ll faithfully attend Wednesday night weekly dances. Val, are you drinking LOVE POTION NO. 9? May I join you?
NVSC shared a dance with the Maryland DC Hand Dancers on August 8th at VFW Morningside, MD. Denny and Eddy and Charlie Price were deejays. The two clubs split the profit and NVSC picked up a cool $450 for its share!
That same night, three NVSC couples danced in an Open Swing Division at the August 1998 SWING FLING, Sheraton Premier at Tyson’s Corner: Janis Grimes and Bill Hopkins, Heather and Craig Jennings, and Larry and Shirley Jones. Charlie Womble and Jackie McGee and Michael Norris were on hand for lessons and exhibition dancing.
Dennis Gehley was crowned as Ms Fun Monday, winner of the womanless beauty pageant (see write up below) at SOS Fall Migration, N. Myrtle Beach, September 18-27.
Ms. Fun Monday
If you joined the Northern Virginia Shag Club anytime after September 1999, there is a good chance that you haven’t heard about the Miss Fun Monday contest that takes place during Fall Migration at SOS. in North Myrtle Beach. But that’s OK - there are over 6 billion people on this planet, and most of them also have no idea what SOS. is, or what Fun Monday is, or who Miss Fun Monday is, or what he/she represents. If you’re interested in a little bit of SOS history, and a little bit of NVSC history from the 1998-99 era, then you might find the following story amusing. If not, maybe you can settle for just looking at the photos.
Our story starts sometime during 1996 or 1997 (maybe sooner?) when someone came up with the idea of having a womanless beauty contest during fall SOS. The contest would be for men only, would be held on Fun Monday (the only Monday during SOS.), and the winner would be crowned Miss Fun Monday.
The first Miss Fun Monday was duly crowned in September 1997. The following spring, the semi-annual SOS newspaper, Carefree Times, advertised for entrants to the September 1998 contest. At this point (enter stage left), Ms. Vesta Jones, then president of NVSC, handed me an application at a summer Board meeting and said “Out of all the men in the club, you’re about the only one I know who would enter this contest.” So I did.
A few people in the club really got into this contest thing. Vesta found a wig with great big curls that made me look like Howard Stern’s long-lost twin sister. Don Borja made a truly professional sash that said Ms. NVSC. The former Ms. Jean Jennings (now Mrs. Keith Teele) offered her professional makeup services at North Myrtle on the morning of the contest. My wife Nancy found gorgeous nails at Wal-Mart (for ME, not her) and plastic flowers for my hair and shoes. Even my niece contributed a feathery pink boa. (There goes weird Uncle Dennis again!)
The contest was a hoot. There were 13 contestants, most (or all?) of them members of the Association of Beach and Shag Club DJs. I doubt that any of us knew what to expect from each other or ourselves. Working the crowd for photo opportunities and sucking up to folks in the audience, especially the Judges, eventually paid off for me, aka Mona Lott. (Not to mention my stunning legs, which even my sisters are jealous of. You go, girl!) I even had enough confidence to have had an acceptance speech ready. I won the contest, received a really cool trophy and crown, had my picture taken lots of times with lots of NVSC friends - even with Charlie Womble and Jackie McGee, who wandered by right after the contest and were probably thinking to themselves, “What the hell was THAT?”
I returned to the scene of the crime at fall SOS 1999 with a brand new sash creation from the House of (Don) Borja. This time I was there only to pass on the crown to one of three very deserving contestants. Valerie Henson (currently Mrs. Valerie Henson Coleman) was there with Mike and they took photos that eventually made their way onto the Internet. Now that those photos are out there in cyberspace, maybe the aliens will think twice about invading.
If there is any lesson to be learned here, it is that the SOS. Miss Fun Monday womanless beauty contest is a great opportunity to get into the spirit of SOS. and have a lot of fun with friends and strangers – perhaps none stranger than yourself. (Sort of like a lot of other activities that our club gets involved in.) Plus, you get to have bragging rights for all eternity or at least until your mind goes. You can tell people whom you’ve never met: “I’ll never forget the time I entered the Miss Fun Monday contest…and won!” So far, out of over 765 people who have joined the Northern Virginia Shag Club in its first six years, there is only one person who can say that.
Enjoy the photos. Being there was even better – just ask around! Next time you’re over to the house, we’ll show you the wall plaques we made with photos, sashes, and Valerie’s Internet contributions. If you want, you can even touch my trophy.
Something to shout about: Saturday, October 3rd, Michael Norris and Nikki Kontoulis won in the Carolina Shag Division at the Virginia State Open. Janis Grimes and Bill Hopkins danced, placing 2nd. Michael and Nikki went on to win first place in the Overall Competition (over all the other first place winners), and an all-expenses-paid trip to the US Open in Anaheim, CA.
Some of the NVSC members expressed a desire to learn more intricate mirror steps. Starting on Sunday, October 4th, and continuing every Sunday, the club began giving advanced shag lessons for $5 per person, with the proceeds going into the club treasury. Juniors and young adults were invited free. Shortly thereafter, advanced classes (free for members) were included in the regular Wednesday night program with emphasis placed on styling and technique as taught by Rick Hendrix.
In an effort to integrate the club’s By-laws with the club’s policies and needs, and to better represent the club as it had evolved over its 5-year existence, Joan McKinney and David Rodgers presented a revised proposal of the club Bylaws for membership approval in November. The By-laws were approved and Joan and David’s hard work was acknowledged.
The annual Christmas party was held on December 12th at the Springfield VFW. Deejay was John Smith. The club presented a check for $2,000 to Hospice of Northern Virginia. In attendance were more than l35 members, guests, Hand Dancers, Swing Dancers and out-of-town visitors. Continuing the practice of putting the emphasis on the shag, several NVSC members put on an exciting Carolina Shag demonstration: Larry and Shirley Jones, Craig and Heather Jennings, Bill Hopkins and Janis Grimes, and Earl Robinson and Beverly Jones.
Special Thanks to All Our Members December 1998
Some special things happened in the Northern Virginia Shag Club in 1998 that we should all feel good about.
First, our membership has been extremely generous in supporting this year’s designated charity, Hospice of Northern Virginia. Beginning with a zero balance last December, we took the $107 from last year’s holiday party 50/50 money and opened a Charity account that has grown to over $1,800. More donations will surely come between now and this year’s party, at which time we give it all away! Many people also “went on record” by donating their charity dollars in return for those fine fancy records that Vesta Jones decorated and hung from the ceiling at this year’s Capital Shag Classic.
Second, our members have been amazingly successful in maintaining a club that has attracted almost 100 new members during the first 11 months of this year, while keeping many (most?) of our 250 members from last December. The NVSC continues to be an exciting mix of orange-dotted “new kids,” here for their first exposure to beach and shag music, mingling on the dance floor with Charter Members whom we see on almost a weekly basis – people like Larry Boyer, Larry Camp, Pauline Easby-Smith, Janis Grimes, Donna Harrington, Rick Hendrix, Liz Kestler, H.K. Lee, Patricia Parrott, Charlie Price, Ruth and Dave Rapson, and Gary and Sharon Salpini. In February 1999, we will be celebrating the 5th birthday of an idea that those dreamers and schemers kicked around in 1993 and got off the ground in 1994. Take time out every so often to thank those folks for doing what they did for us, way back when. All of them are aging gracefully.
Third, our members have wholeheartedly supported every single club special activity and function that this year’s officers and Board members presented. Dave Shipp (NVSC’s very own “Mr. T”) spent many hours arranging for special club t-shirts in 1998 and polo shirts that will be THE hot fashion item in 1999. Artist Don Borja designed a club logo for the Capital Shag Classic that is the envy of the East Coast. Everything with Don’s logo on it seems to become an instant collectible. Virtually every single dance and workshop that NVSC sponsored from January through November was a moneymaker, thanks to all those who came out and supported us, both members and guests. With support like that, it was easy for the Board to decide that all our members deserved a free holiday party this year.
Fourth, our enthusiasm for beach music, shag dancing, and fellowship has started to spill over in many directions in the DC area. We continue to see some exciting crossover between the shag community and the DC Hand Dance communities. Denny Martin and Eddy Farmer, NVSC members, are much sought after for their DJ services in the hand dance community, while successful shag DJ’s like Jerry Canada are being sought after by hand dancers. NVSC shaggers and hand dancers in the DC area are attending each other’s events in growing numbers. Both contingents had a large charge at the Virginia Beach Shag Club’s annual party this past October. Closer to our official home at Blackie’s in Springfield, NVSC members have found another shagger-friendly spot to dance at on Friday nights and once a month at our Sunday socials – Oldies Music Legends in Manassas. Jake Willingham, Kathryn Quattrone, Valerie Henson, Pamela Alfano, Vaughn Royal, Dave and Sharon Shipp, and many other Blackie’s regulars can be found dancing at Legends, where Dion (“The Hit Man”) spins tunes while Dave Rapson and Gary Salpini talk about next year’s dance floor and the good ol’ days of the NVSC.
Fifth, that local NVSC enthusiasm made some waves at North Myrtle Beach this year. Spring SOS. brought us a trophy and cash for being the best marching unit in the parade, and Fall SOS. brought us a cash prize for being the club that sold the most goodies at the Company Store. Thanks in part to a perfect makeup job from Jean Jennings, a certain member of the NVSC just happens to be the reigning SOS Miss Fun Monday for 1998-99. Mona Lott will jealously guard his/her sash until next September, when he/she must surrender the crown. Dave Shipp gets my vote for the sweetest-talking guy of 1998. Not only did Dave talk Fat Harold into putting up an NVSC plaque in his North Myrtle Beach club to join those from other clubs all over the country, but Dave also convinced the NVSC Board of Directors and the DC Hand Dance Association to invest in club logo bricks on Main Street at NMB – along with 27 individual bricks from NVSC and Association members. Look for those bricks during Spring SOS in 1999.
Finally, thanks to all those people who contributed behind the scenes to the club’s success this year, but who prefer to remain anonymous. Just because we don’t see you doesn’t mean we don’t value your contributions. We know you are out there. As Treasurer of a voluntary social club like ours, I particularly appreciate the support from those of you outside our geographic area that don’t get to visit us often, if ever. We remember you and value your membership because, quite frankly, your dues help us to do what you want us to do as individuals and as a club: promote good fellowship and continued appreciation of beach music and the shag, wherever we are and wherever we go. I also feel pretty good when I see members and guests from far away, like my 10-4 good buddy Bemis Locklear from Atlanta, who taught me and my wife, Nancy, some of the finer aspects of SOS, such as sharing a condo with a DJ who brings a killer sound system and a carload of tunes with him. Also, Pamela’s margueritas are to die for. You go girl! Sweet Betty!
So special thanks to one and all. Feel good about what you did in 1998. Happy holidays everybody – bring on 1999! Let’s give it up for the NVSC!