Articles by Members

HOW I FOUND THE NORTHERN VIRGINIA SHAG CLUB

My Lucky Number

by Donna Harrington

It was springtime, 1993. I was just beginning to get my feet wet in the world of the newly single; it was a scary proposition. Fortunately, I had the social skills of my wonderful friend and the best social director anyone could possibly wish to know, Pauline Easby-Smith, to ease me into this unknown scene.

Pauline wanted to share with me, and with anyone whom she could interest, this fantastic “grown-up” beach party she had discovered in Myrtle Beach, SC. I signed on for my first road trip with her; destination SOS Spring Safari.

Our lodgings were at the quaint Bel-Aire Motel (recently replaced by a high-rise) on Ocean Drive, right in the midst of the action. Pauline assured me it was of paramount importance to be able to walk to the clubs without the worry of parking the car. Later, after sampling pitchers of White Russians and Long Island Iced Tea, I realized it as the walking home, sans automobile, which was ultimately more important!

Having grown up primarily in the Northeast where the dance style was Jitterbug or East Coast Swing, I had never seen anyone dance the Carolina Shag and had only heard a little beach music from Pauline’s tape deck. I wanted to check it out. So, on to the main event, we headed for Happy Hour at Duck’s. Approaching the entrance, I happened to look above the doors and saw that Duck’s address was 229 Main Street. This was obviously a super good omen of some sort. Would you believe that 229 is my lucky number? Truly, it is (long story) and I knew at that moment something especially wonderful was in store for me on the other side of those dark glass doors.

Once inside: I was captivated, mesmerized, enthralled – all of it – the dance, the music, the people – TOTAL MAGIC. No other words can suffice.

The spell was broken only when we had to leave the Strand and head home, leaving this wondrous Shag world behind. But it had already found a place inside my heart and soul (the feet were slow to follow!). I wanted to become a disciple of the Shag to all these other unknowing Northerners, one of whom I had been only a week before. How was I going to be able to accomplish this?

Well, it didn’t take long for the answer to present itself. One full week of recuperation later (and, believe me, it took at least that long to recover), Pauline heard a radio ad for Carolina Shag lessons at Blackie’s in Springfield, our Country dancing headquarters. This was too good to be believed!!!

But true it was. On an evening in early May 1993, on the dance floor at Blackie’s, in front of our disbelieving eyes we saw Rick, Liz, Dee, Larry, Keith, Sherri, Nick and Debbie doing the Carolina Shag – right here in N. Virginia! And so it began…

My lucky number had never let me down. But it had also never before bestowed on me riches such as this. Friendship, joy, love, memories, FUN - and music and dance to thrill my spirit for a lifetime.

Moral of the story – never turn down a road trip, especially when Pauline is driving!

When I Became a Teenager All Over Again

by Larry Camp

I was driving around town one summer weekend in 1993 when I heard on the radio that a shag club was meeting at Blackie’s on Tuesday nights. So I went the following week and found a group of people talking about forming a shag club. I believe Liz and Rick Hendrix were demonstrating the shag dance to the people there. I watched and saw with amazement that this was the same dance I had learned when I was a teenager in Atlanta! I was about 15 years old and learned one afternoon the basic steps from a girl whose name has long since been forgotten. But I never forgot those basic steps. In fact, I have incorporated those steps in all of the dancing I have done since then.

Over the next few weeks we continued to meet at Blackie’s and at some point in time (I don’t remember when) we decided we needed to get organized and that we needed to collect dues. The payment was set at $15, and I think Dave Rapson was informally selected as the Treasurer. Sometime toward the end of the year Blackie’s threw us out and we started meeting at the Juke Box Cafe in Springfield. This is where we were dancing when the club was officially formed in February 1994.

The charter meeting was held at Dee Bassett’s house on February 27, 1994, and we continued to organize for the rest of the year. I believe all 15 members of our fledgling shag club were there. Dee Bassett was elected President, Debbie Nichols Vice President, Liz Kestler Secretary, and Dave Rapson as Treasurer. The three board members, Janis Grimes, Gary Salpini, and I were elected later.

However, my first real inclination of what I had gotten into was when I went to my first Virginia Beach Bash. There I heard for the first time since I was a teenager all the songs from my past. It brought back so many memories that I couldn’t get enough. I wanted to dance every dance. I think I wore Patricia Parrott out (NEVER!!!) asking her to dance with me so many times.

And then I discovered Myrtle Beach!

The Juke Box Cafe

by Howard Christie

On a hot summer evening in 1993, I dropped into the old Juke Box for a cool beer. There were some leaflets on the tables announcing that a shag club was being formed. I hung around to check it out, and joined.

I wasn’t totally ignorant of shag, but hadn’t even heard the word mentioned in 32 years. Back in 1959-1960 I was dancing swing. One of the girls I danced with started adding some fancy footwork. She said it was shag. There was a little whisper in her voice as if it were a secret.

Dee and Larry did the bulk of the teaching at the Juke Box. It was rough going at first, so I bought a Charlie and Jackie tape to get an added dimension. That is when I fell in love with Shag. You can’t watch Charlie and Jackie dance without knowing this is something special. It has been seven years now, and I don’t really want to learn any more steps, but I will always remember cool beers and hot summer nights with the best of people. That’s shagging.

Twirling

by Olivia J. Estep

I found you guys at the 1998 Fall Shag Migration in Myrtle Beach. There for a week’s vacation with a girlfriend from Richmond, we headed to the beach at 2nd & Main St. and parked the car at the O.D. Pavilion. Seeing Main Street blocked off, my friend said, “Oh, look, there must be a craft show or something going on – let’s go look.” What we walked up to was Monday Madness. I took one look and said, “Oh my God – there’s life after 50.” We found the Carefree Times newspaper, looked over the events, and decided we would go to the Rookies Revenge event on Tuesday night at the O.D. Arcade & Lounge. Not having an SOS pass, we finagled our way into O.D.’s “without.” Thank you whoever that was that let us slide through, because it was then that I decided that SHAG would become part of my life. We watched the competitors having a great time – and I said to myself, “I can learn this.” Being a native of DC and a fifties gal, I guess you’d say I grew up Hand Dancing. I joined NVSC that fall, and with the encouragement of my dear friend, business associate and dedicated Shagger, Betty Abshire, I struggled through beginner’s class for a year. I wanted to be sure I had the Basics down.

These days I find myself “twirling” a lot with my friend, Jim Taylor – but for sure you’ll find me, at least the next year or longer, at the Wednesday intermediate class trying to master the Funky something. I Love You Guys – you are all wonderful, and dedicated. My goal is to give back to you as you have given to me!!!!

How I Found the NVSC

by David Rodgers

I was driving one day in late 1995 or early 1996 on Route 123 going north, and while waiting for the traffic signal at the intersection of Braddock Road, I noticed a personalized auto license plate on a car in another lane with "NVASHAG" on it!

Since I grew up in South Carolina and had learned to shag when I was 13 or 14 years old, I wondered if there might be a group of shaggers in Northern Virginia. The car with the NVASHAG license plate went off one way and I went another, but I started that very day trying to locate a shag club in northern Virginia. I looked in the telephone book, but couldn't find a listing for a shag club or group. I searched the Weekender section of the Washington Post for several weeks in a row trying to find a shag event listed in the weekend activities, but didn't have any luck. At that time I did not have a computer with which to access the Internet search for the club.

I decided to call up an old high school classmate and friend, Betty Kane, and ask her help finding a shag group in Northern Virginia. Betty was a Hall of Fame shagger and lived in my old hometown in Sumter, SC. I called her and asked her if she would ask around her network of shaggers and help me find the elusive group of shaggers in Northern Virginia. She said she would. Several months went by and I didn't hear back from Betty; so I called her one day and asked if she had found any information for me. She said she hadn't, but she would call some friends in Atlanta where she had lived previously to see if they could help. In May 1996, Betty called me back and gave me the telephone number of Southern Shaggers located in St. Simons Island, Georgia. She said if there was a shag club in Northern Virginia, that Southern Shaggers would know how to contact them.

I called Southern Shaggers and the man with whom I spoke gave me the telephone number of John Belt, who was listed as the point of contact for the Northern Virginia Shag Club. I called John, the Vice President in 1996, and he told me that the club met for dancing on Wednesday nights at Blackie's in Springfield. I went to Blackie's the next Wednesday night and joined the club within a couple of weeks.

From the time I first saw the personalized license plate which made me think that there was a shag club in Northern Virginia, it took five to six months to find out if, in fact, there was a club and how to contact someone in the club. My search had extended to Sumter, SC, to Atlanta, GA and to St. Simons Island, GA only to find a shag club about 8 miles from my house!

Sometimes...You Just Get Lucky!!!

by Jim Dean

I was sitting in a Sheraton motel room (...up to this point, it sounds like the lead line from Bill Coday's Moans, Grunts and Groans) in Reston, Virginia, on a hot August night. It was one of those local information channels that caused me to stop flicking the remote. There were couples dancing the SHAG!...and they were dancing at a club called Lulu's in Springfield. (Pinky O'Neill's Dancing Around video of NVSC) Well, quicker than you can shut the screen door in a submarine, I jumped for the telephone and got directions! Just a short 35-minute drive up the 267 Turnpike and down 494 and 95 South and I reach Springfield. "Just go through the double doors," he grinned at the door. "I think you'll find what you're looking for," and he was RIGHT!

Lulu's is in a large building that houses a Country and Western club on one side and Lulu's on the other...with a restaurant in between. It offers one of the more spacious dance floors around. On Wednesday nights, this club is home to the Northern Virginia Shag Club.

The floor was filled with dancers learning the basics of the dance and from what I could tell...the future was very bright. I hardly had time to survey the surroundings when a delightful lady approached and introduced herself to me. Friendly sort! Made a Carolina man feel like he was not too far removed from the Southland. Vesta Jones is president of the club and she knows how to treat a weary traveler. She even introduced me to many of the local ladies who promised me a dance when the music started.

Well, around 8:30 pm, Craig Jennings, DJ extraordinaire, launched into some of the finest rhythm and blues musical offerings this side of Ocean Drive... and the fun was on. I'd like to thank all the lovely ladies (Vesta, Pauline, Marsha, Leigh Ann, Patricia and Joan, and the remaining ladies whose names I didn't get because the Corona's got in the way) who graciously danced with me that evening. Their motto is "Never let a good song go by without dancing." And they didn't!

If you happen to be in the area of Winston-Salem in the state of North Carolina, please join me at the InZone any Thursday night. Or better still!!! SOS will be here before you know it... Here's a thought!! On Wednesday night (September 23), around 9:00 in the pm, at the OD Arcade and Lounge, Jim and Linda Dean would welcome the opportunity to meet with the club members who journeyed to SOS and show a small measure of appreciation for your friendliness. So mark your calendars and set your watches, Linda and I...and Murl Augustine will be waiting!!! Thanks again, Jim Dean

Letter reprinted from the October 1998 issue of the Shag Rag

There’s a Man Over There

by Patricia Parrott

It must have been in October 1992. I was living in Virginia Beach, planning to move to Northern Virginia, and partying at the Virginia Beach Shag Club’s ‘Beach Bash’ when a friend, Carmen, said to me, “there’s a man over there from Northern Virginia.” I went up and introduced myself to “Rick Hendrix.” Rick said, “We’re a small group of people struggling to learn Carolina Shag and hoping to form a club. Here’s my card. Contact us when you arrive in town.” Sure enough, that was one of the first things I did upon arrival in the area. My daughter, Becky, seven months pregnant, went with me to Blackie’s so I wouldn’t be lost in the big city on that eventful afternoon in June 1993 when I, and 14 others, joined to form the foundation for the Northern Virginia Shag Club.

Back in Time

by Kathryn Quattrone

It was March of 1997 and I was a regular at the Red Moon Saloon country western bar. I was starting over, looking for new friends and new adventures. Line dancing was fun – didn’t need a partner. Yeah, I can do this!! It was clear to me that dancing was an “oldie but goodie” that I had missed doing. One night, one of my friends from “the Moon” started talking about this new dance class he was taking at Blackie’s –Shag (thank you, Dave). He was saying, “You know, not the country western side but the other side—Déjà vu. It’s a blast!” I had seen Shag once or twice and was kinda listening to him and kinda not. I knew I had reached a point in the country western scene where line-dancing wasn’t cuttin’ it any more. I had been trying to do the couples thing with the two-step and “nah” it wasn’t cuttin’ it either. For me, going around in a circle and then going around inside the same circle, well, forget it!

So, one night I ventured over to the “Shag side” – little did I know what that one night would do for me! I watched from a corner and realized that the dance was something like the jitterbug my brothers and sisters had taught me when I was younger. Right then I knew I was “hooked.” You can’t stay in a corner too long at Shag Club (thank you, AJ (Nowaskey)). I learned fast that Shag is a participatory dance and, one way or another, if you’re there, you will not want for a dance partner, and you will dance. I kept coming back to the beginner class and before long I had met a veteran dancer who was kind enough to practice with me (thank you, John), and my passion for the dance grew even more.

In June, I had one of the best times of my life, the “Capital Shag Classic!” The energy and just plain fun that was had will stay with me. I was mesmerized by Ellen Taylor. Her style and grace was like no other. The intensity of the people doing their favorite steps; the workshops where we all learned new ones; and, even today, remembering the Jerry Lee Lewis impersonator will brings a smile – what a gas! (Just don’t tell him he wasn’t the real thing!)

On Sunday morning, after dancing 14 of the last 24 hours, I found myself with others eating breakfast by the pool with my feet in the hot tub thinking, “Wow, will these puppies ever be the same?” only to be drawn in by conversations about the Gospel Shaggin’ that was about to begin. Gospel Shaggin’ – what in the world was that? Oh, ya gotta see it to believe it – or should I say “feel it” to believe it!

I know there are very few things I do well (not meant to be negative, just plain truthful) – but I am determined that Shag is going to be one thing that I will learn to do well. These are times when I can’t get enough (thank you, Chris and Fred). Teach me more, teach me more (thank you, Nancy and Dennis)…now how does that DC sweep go again?…the Shell…show me that again, (I know Jake, it’s called something else on the video!). It hasn’t quite been a year, but I had to go back in time just a little and share with all of my new friends (thank you, Valerie, Vesta, Bob, Sharon, Dave, Rick, Pamela, Judy, Eva and Jane…maybe I’ll get that swing thing yet…Fred, Jake, Phyllis, Jerry, Bob, Don, Gary) that the terrific joy the dance, the people and the events the club has to offer have made a difference to me.

I look forward so much to this next year in the club. All the new dance steps you dedicated teachers have to offer (thank you, Bill, Joan, Janis, Fred, Chris, Dave, Craig, Heather, John, Melody); I’ve already heard stories of Mid-Winter fun (yeah, Myrtle Beach); I anticipate going to Spring SOS; our Capital Shag Classic (there go the feet again); new workshops (John and Joan—now there are two “Hippies on a Corner”; and Jackie and Charlie – WOW). But best of all, I look forward to Wednesday nights and those “oldies but goodies,” and remembering for me how it all began. (reprinted from March 1998 issue of Shag Rag)

A SHOE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR

Competition

by Audrey Borja

Off to Compete!

We were talked into joining our club members to compete for our club in a Shag Competition in Dunn, N.C. We had no real time to prepare for the competition and to get our minds going in the right direction. With work and all of the activities in our daily lives, competing was not something we wanted to do at the time. Anyway, in the spirit of club support we went away for the weekend to compete as a club team against other club teams. The anxiety that we both felt was overwhelming. We kept saying, why are we doing this?…. we are not ready for this…… we will mess up and make fools of ourselves!

The trip to Dunn was one where we all tried to keep each other thinking positive and overlook the bag of nerves that surrounded us. Other team members had competed before and were experiencing the same anxiety, but with a more familiar reference point. My husband and I did not like what we were feeling….. and, in fact, we had friction times where we barked at one another because we couldn’t keep a lid on our feelings……

The arrival at Dunn found us in a very small town with only one restaurant. It was cold and gloomy, making us wonder even more … what are we doing here? After a nice dinner including eating peanuts and throwing the shells on the floor (a custom in this part of North Carolina), we all went back to our motel rooms to get ready for the evening. We all looked great when we went over to the club where the dance was going to be held. We gave our CDs to the DJ, put our shoes on, and began to prepare for the competition.

Finally, the moment arrived. My husband and I got on the floor under the spotlights and the cheering crowd and did our dance. Luckily, we did fairly well, all things considered. I think that once we actually got started we felt better than we had with the anticipation. The crowd cheered for us and, of course, this relaxed us so that we did not fall or get too mixed up on our dance. Whew, we survived the dance and sat down to enjoy the other dancers. Our other couple that danced from our club did a great job with their dance. We all felt that we made a good showing for our club.

The winners were announced and our team did NOT place among them. I think for a minute, we were disappointed. But, that passed and we were excited for the others that won. I learned a lesson, that this is what sharing is all about. You share, you experience, you do your best, and you learn. We felt all of those emotions! I think the one thing that sticks with me about the whole experience, is that the other shaggers, the other clubs, were so supportive. They cheered for each other and truly were there with each couple that danced. To me, that got me through the anxiety and made me stronger as I look to do it again. The difference, of course, will be that the next time, we will have a reference point! And, who knows, maybe we will win!

Seagull Basic

by Audrey Borja

What a Difference a Day Makes and A Lot of Lessons

Shagging has come a long way with us – in our ability to dance, and in our social life. What a difference it has made to our lifestyle. Thinking back, as a new shagger in 1996, we had a real challenge ahead of us – to learn the dance and to “be cool.” The dance itself was not too hard, since we both could find a beat in the music and our left foot from our right. But, it was trying to break old habits in dancing that was difficult – dancing from our waist down, and focusing on the feet were new to us. We had always done dancing that included wiggles.

Given this model beginning, our first SOS in Myrtle Beach, S.C., was a real trip! As we wrote for the Shag Rag in 1996, as we walked on the beach, we admired the seagulls on doing what looked like the shag basic: 1&2, 3&4, 5, 6 as the waves washed in and out on the sand. They were actually shagging, or the rudiments of the shag as they pranced with their feet and then dipped their heads in the sand to capture any moving life that they disturbed with their prancing. Don and I looked at each other and said, “That’s the Basic!” We were so excited – because it was the “natural” answer to what we had been so dutifully doing and enjoying – and we felt like we had really found a “back to nature” approach. So, we realized that with “the seagull natural” – there was no limit to where this could go.

Now, in the year 1999, we are avid shaggers. Shagging is such a part of our life, that we market its rewards every day with co-workers and friends. There is a bond among shaggers that is difficult to explain, but it is there. Although we all come from different walks of life, our shagging club has brought us together. It is like magic! There is nothing that we would not do for one another. It seems that shagging is a contagious zest for life and friendship. Actually, we feel like we climbed that mountain and now are enjoying the view!

Shagging is good medicine!

Pocket Full of Dough (The Sundogs)

by Dennis Gehley

I wasn’t around in the early days of 1993 and 1994 when the idea for a shag club in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area began surfacing in a serious way. If you want to know what those early years were like, talk to NVSC’s very first Treasurer, Dave Rapson, or his successors, Bill Hopkins, John Belt and Pauline Easby-Smith. I was elected in 1997 for the first time because no one else wanted Pauline’s job. I was elected for a second and third time in 1998 and 1999 because I (1) am a glutton for punishment, (2) am a very slow learner, (3) haven’t found anyone else who wants to be Treasurer, or (4) all of the above.

In a nutshell, being Treasurer is pretty cool if you really like crunching numbers and you really like people. You have to like numbers because NVSC has three bank accounts that have to be reconciled every month and the NVSC Board likes to know about those numbers every time we get together. Also, you have to like people because you are constantly taking their money, doing something good with it, and then explaining what you did with it. Once a year, you even have to explain what you did with NVSC money to the Internal Revenue Service.

There have been quite a few changes in the NVSC over the last three years, and many of those changes impact on the Treasurer. Most important is the tremendous growth in membership. When I joined NVSC in February 1996, there were about 250 members. In June 2000, there were almost 400 members. What that means is we have a lot more money coming into the club than we did in the early years. As you might expect, that also means a lot more money going out, a lot more checks to fool with when it comes to balancing the monthly checkbooks, and a lot more financial transactions and records to maintain.

When you get more money, that also means you can sometimes do things that you never thought could be done. For example, once our membership got up into the “several hundred people” range, we were able to plan and carry off Shag-A-Thons at Springfield Mall in 1998 and Landmark Mall in 1999. Those two events, plus 50/50 donations from weekly dances and other special events, raised over $28,000 for Hospice of Northern Virginia. Just ask Dave Rapson or Bill Hopkins if the prospect of raising $28,000 for charity was anywhere on the radar screen back in 1994 and 1995. They will probably tell you some true war stories about how hard it was just to pay the monthly bills, let alone worry about raising money to give away.

As I understand it, a lot of members in those early years donated time and money to NVSC with little or no expectation that they would ever be reimbursed. Some people are still doing that.

Another thing you can do with more people and more money is to throw even bigger parties, particularly the annual birthday party that we call the Capital Shag Classic. NVSC officially got off the ground during the period February through April 1994. We were still financially shaky in 1995, so we didn’t have enough money to pull off a birthday bash until 1996, the year of the first Classic. Total expenditures for the first Classic were approximately $13,000. Total expenditures for the fourth Classic were over $19,000, and will probably be over $20,000 for the fifth. Party on, Wayne! Party on, Garth!

What this means for the Treasurer (and most of the other officers and Board members) is a lot of volunteer time to make the club run smoothly. I guess I probably spend an average of 10 hours a week doing the Treasurer thing. That means crunching numbers, writing a monthly report to the Board, taking care of business on the phone, making bank deposits, collecting money twice a year from people buying SOS tickets, sending e-mail and snail mail, and all the other stuff that comes with the job. Those 10 hours per week is par for the course for the other club officers, too. At least that’s what we tell the IRS when they ask us to report to them each year.

And that brings up another matter. Thanks to past President Vesta Jones and her supporting cast of officers and Board members, the Northern Virginia Shag Club is one of the few clubs out of over 90 in the Association of Carolina Shag Clubs (ACSC) that applied for and received non-profit status from the IRS. The good news is that we don’t ever have to worry about paying federal income taxes on any of the money that passes through the club. The bad news: the IRS expects an annual report to explain where we get our money and what we do with it. That means a whole lot more number crunching for the Treasurer between January and May every year. (No wonder he’s grouchy sometimes.)

I think that pretty much answers the original question of what it’s like to be the NVSC Treasurer. If you are interested in a pretty cool job that lets you meet some pretty cool people who like to dance and party, and you want to volunteer your time to make NVSC an even better club, then think about running for Treasurer when elections roll around in the fall. I’ll be glad to train you. After all, I don’t want this job forever. Maybe just one more year. Or, I could give it up next January if you really want it. Elections are just around the corner!

The Spirit of Shag Lives On

by Janis Grimes

Just back from the National Living Legends of Dance Awards, an annual event honoring those who have made significant contributions to the preservation and evolution of dance, and I am filled with the warmth and easy sense of fun that surrounds these special people. Did you know that two members of our own club are National Living Legends? That’s right – Craig Hutchinson and Earl Robinson are both recipients of the Star Award.

Conceived and produced by Fran Bingley and Berta Lull of Virginia Beach, this event has grown into a classy gala that attracts many of the best and most dedicated dance elite in the country. Invitations are limited by the moderate size of the Officers’ Club at Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base, but good will and high spirits soar. Amazingly, there is no sign of rivalries or egos running amok that might be expected in such a talented group, many of whom are competitors. The only sad part of the weekend, brought to immediate attention by the mention of those who are missing this year, is the quiet realization that after all the fun, laughter and joy, it could be the last time we will see this person, or that one…

Master of ceremonies Steve Booth did a wonderful job as always, making the evening come to life with his stylish commentary and anecdotes about the honorees. Among the many shag luminaries present this year were Carl & Ellen Taylor, Earl Robinson and the lovely Beverly Jones, Jerry Canada, Norfleet Jones and Sheila Bodie, recently married Bobby Kellam and Ann Givens, Michael Payne of The Carefree Times, Judy Davis, Charlie Snow, Johnny & Carolyn Johnson of Roanoke, and Wes May. Nine-year-old Brennar Goree, an upcoming junior shagger, reported back to his grandmother, Marjorie, after a dance with Ellen Taylor, “She catches on real quick to my steps.”

Norfleet Jones, legendary shagger and proprietor of Ducks in North Myrtle Beach, and Eddie Monsour are sponsoring the newest team of shag competitors, Ducks Dirty Dozen, comprised of juniors and other young shaggers. The team consists of twelve awesome dancers – Norman Aldredge & Nikki Kontoulis; David Campbell & Jill Barton; Grant Garmon & Leah Sanderson; Brent & Kellese Key; Brad Kinard & Jennifer Beaver, and Grayson Smith & Leslie Melton. We watched in awe as they performed their perfectly synchronized routine, on their way to the U.S. Open in Anaheim, California. In one corner of the dance floor sat Grayson Smith, resting his recently injured ankle. These kids are so polished and professional that they performed their routine with Grayson sitting out – meaning that one girl was always dancing her part alone. It was still stunningly precise. Grayson was spotted later that night dancing with two girls (at the same time) on the carpet – just couldn’t help himself. We hope he will recover in time to dance at the U.S. Open. Norfleet explained that Grayson, a 3rd year student at Clemson University… a gifted athlete and dancer of extraordinary coordination and grace… sprained his ankle (Oh No!!!) while walking down the sidewalk after leaving his fraternity house… End of explanation. That’s his story, and he’s sticking to it.

Last year the National Shag Dance Team won first place at the U.S. Open, stunning the entire dance community with their precision, grace, and ability. Several shag couples took top honors in other categories, as well, and Carolina Shag was finally recognized on a national level for the beautiful art form that it is. We know what to expect from these young shaggers – they are some of the most talented dancers in the entire country (okay, the world!), and we wish them every success this year.

The friendship and support among the young shaggers was prevalent that weekend, not a hint of the negatives – ego, attitude or jealousy – that sometimes creep in when there is so much talent in one room. It was a perfect celebration with gracious people who support each other in a spirit of friendship that is wonderful to witness. They are fabulous, and they are the future. But as Norfleet said, were it not for the Living Legends who started dancing and kept it alive, they wouldn’t be here.

That Shag spirit is the glue that holds it all together for these talented, and very fortunate, people. The spirit of friendship, coolness and genuine support for each other gives them a safe haven where they can play, work on their dancing, enjoy each other, and excel to fantastic levels. They are so blessed.

Reprinted from the December 1999 Shag Rag, and Carefree Times