Basic Shag Step

Basic: The basic Carolina Shag step is a 6-count, 8-step pattern danced in a slot. Partners face each other in the slot, the man's left hand holds the woman's right hand. Arms are extended from the elbow with the elbow close to but not touching the body. At the beginning of the basic pattern each dancer takes a long step forward (left foot for men, right foot for women) towards each other. After the first step the dancers are closely facing each other.

Accordion: The remaining steps take each dancer away (backward) from each other back toward the end of the slot. This back and forth movement produces an 'accordion effect' within the slot. The footwork is done as a glide.

Purchase: The full video of the shag steps taught by Northern Virginia Shag Club is available for purchase. Ask your instructor at our regular Wednesday night dance. Free basic lessons are taught every Wednesday beginning at 7:30 PM.

Man's part
1Step forward with the left foot1up-together-back
2Step together with the right foot&
3Step back with the left foot2
4Step back with the right foot3back-in-place
5Weight shift to left foot&
6Weight shift to right foot4
7Step back with left foot5rock-step
8Weight shift to right foot6

Lady's part
1Step foward with the right foot1up-together-back
2Step together with the left foot&
3Step back with the right foot2
4Step back with the left foot3back-in-place
5Weight shift to right foot&
6Weight shift to left foot4
7.Step back with right foot5rock-step
8Weight shift to left foot6

Footwork: The Shag dance is a dance of footwork. The upper body is kept still; hand and arm movements are kept to a minimum.

Slot: The dance slot is parallel to one of the walls in the room. When doing the basic shag step each dancer dances in ('owns') their half of the slot. The joined hands are in the middle of the slot and define the common boundary. These joined hands, which are kept steady, are called the 'post'.

Rhythm: The rhythm of the basic step is "triple-step","triple step","rock step". Each of these three patterns takes two beats. A common mistake for beginners is to hurry the "rock step". Each step in the rock step takes a full beat in contrast to the "triple-step" which has three steps in two beats.

Practice: Learning the basic Shag step is an important first step. It teaches the basic count, the rhythm, dancing in the slot, keeping the upper body still, and keeping the joined hands still. In actual dancing most shaggers tend not to dance the basic step very often although they will dance variations of this basic step.