The 1995 NVSC Board of Directors picked up the ball, ran with it, and the club took off. The officers were:
The Board of Directors and the club members teamed together enthusiastically to promote the NVSC, Carolina Shag, and Beach Music. Membership began to soar. Donna, Pauline and Patricia asked almost everyone they met everywhere they went: “Do you shag?” “Have you heard of beach music?” “Oh, yes” was often the response, “I know about the Beach Boys.”
Much of the local area had yet to learn about Carolina Shag. At the end of the year 1995, however, the club had 211 members. Membership consisted of dancers, not just from VA, DC and MD, but also from states to the North and South. Visitors came from other cities and states. Many people, it seemed, wanted to join the club. Something special was happening here. Excitement was palpable. It could be felt. It could be smelled. It was in the air and everywhere. It seemed to stem from leadership and teamwork… members all working for the same purpose…to promote Carolina Shag and Beach Music.
The local dance establishment had been introduced to beach music by this time, and the previously independent D.C. Hand Dance and West Coast Swing communities crossed over to engage with Carolina Shag and Beach Music. It was quite exciting to have shag’s compelling, energizing, gut-wrenching, wonderful beach music bring together these three distinct styles of dance. It was exciting to share the floor and the music with swing and hand dancers.
On February 11, Larry and Shirley Jones presented a shag workshop on style and technique at the Juke Box Café. They amazed and inspired everyone with their beautiful, graceful ability to dance.
In February, the dance location moved from the Juke Box because management proposed changing the dance night from Wednesday to Tuesday. Blackie’s Restaurant, Déjà Vu Room, in Springfield (now demolished) welcomed back the NVSC, and Blackie’s once again became home to the Northern Virginia Shag Club. President Charlie Price arranged for the club deejay, Bert Nelbach, to move with the club from the Juke Box to Blackie’s. Bert was paid $50 per night by Blackie’s management to play for the club.
Also in February, Rick Hendrix compiled a list of the top tunes that made him feel like dancin’:
The NVSC began to receive notice and acclaim from the larger, old-time shag community of the Southeast. Southern deejays came north to introduce the variety, richness and depth of Beach Music, and Shag dance instructors came from the South to teach technique and new steps.
Susie Beaver taught shag workshops at Blackie’s on June 10, 1995. She brought Calvin Wade and 14-year-old Nikki Kontoulis with her as teaching assistants. The workshops were well attended by Shaggers from Richmond and Virginia Beach shag clubs, as well as our own membership. That evening we danced with Susie and company at a little place called Checkers, at Holiday Inn, Tyson’s Corner.
On a whim, Patricia Parrott wrote to the editors of The Washington Post suggesting that they might want to look into this new dance club that potentially, she offered, could be of interest to the Post’s readers. They did take notice, and featured The Northern Virginia Shag Club with a written article and photo in the October 22, 1995, Sunday Edition, Style Section.
(NOTE: My photo was chosen was not because I was favored or a better dancer, but because I happened to be wearing light colored clothing that night. I was lucky and pleased to represent the club this way. Bill, on the other hand was both: wearing a light colored jacket and a better dancer.)
Nowadays, the preservation of Shag and Beach Music is a given due to the publication of shag videos and books. It will not likely fade again as it did in the 60’s and 70’s. But back in the early and mid-90’s its permanence was not that certain. For several years, the focus had been on doing whatever was necessary to ensure that Carolina Shag gain status and prevail as a specific dance. Keeping the NVSC afloat under those conditions was an enormous, grand, and united effort. The NVSC Board of Directors, regular members who faithfully attended every Wednesday night dance, and support of the ACSC and others in the dance community helped to make it happen. Correctly learning steps, style, and technique was the emphasis. Everyone had a strong desire to see NVSC make it, for the sheer fun, pleasure and enjoyment of dance, and also to preserve the dance and music as it expanded West and North.
To further promote the NVSC, Bill Hopkins, Chris Pax, Dan Shames and Janis Grimes spent precious time and effort learning the more difficult mirror steps. They were the first to go the competitive route and bring notice to NVSC (see below). Keith Abernathy and Donna Harrington did a better than notable job demonstrating the K.D. Mirror Step on Virginia Beach Shag Club’s instructional video. To boost the club’s financial status, Janis Grimes published a NVSC Cookbook and club members produced cassette tapes for sale. Promoting shag was a united effort.
Through the initiating efforts of Patricia Parrott, a video was made for viewing on local cable TV in Pinky O’Neill’s “Dancing Around” show. It featured a typical Wednesday night at Blackie’s. There was enough footage to make two 30-minute videos. Jones Communications of Reston aired Part I on February 18 and 20th, and part II was aired the first week in March. It was a showing of the general dancing being done at that time, and included some shag exhibitions, a little shag instruction and an explanation of Beach Music; however some of the true beauty of Carolina Shag was lost in the presentation due to the variation of dances represented at Blackie’s that night.
The club broadened its weekly dances to include Super Bowl parties, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, Valentine parties and annual Christmas parties.
Always ready to limelight and plug Shag, a bunch of members attended the North Carolina Alumni Association’s April Beach Blast on Saturday, April 15th at St. Alban’s School Trophy Room. The deejay that night later helped put together enough beach music to make two cassette tapes that were sold for club profit. H.K. Lee designed the cover, a cute little guy with his shaggin’ shoes on.
President Charlie Price informed members of an interesting little tidbit after he, Janis Grimes and John Belt returned from the April 1995 ACSC Winter Workshop. There were, he reported, at that time, more than 100 clubs in the ACSC with more than 15,000 members!
One very memorable event occurred on September 30, 1995, at the Cardinal Forest Clubhouse in Springfield. It was: Dancing Under The Stars. For a $12 cover there was free beer, free soda and food, plus door prizes. What a deal.
It happened… and you made it wonderful!
First Pool Party: We thought it would be fun to have a cookout that summer of ’95. Pauline and I (again the location scouts) tried to find a park with a pavilion so we could have a place to both cook out and to dance. Trouble was, if we found a pavilion, we could not have beer or wine. And vice versa – alcohol okay, but no place to dance. So we tried the pool/clubhouse route and after much looking did find a lovely place with a beautiful pool, but if we had beer – no swimming!
The clubroom was lovely – large and surrounded with windows looking out onto a good-sized deck area. Perfect – well, almost. The floor was all carpeted. Soooo, we rented a dance floor! Ms. Easby-Smith and I found a reasonably priced floor, however, the delivery and set-up prices were too much for our club’s treasury. So John Belt and friends did a great job transporting and setting up the floor – but the return trip was not so easy. While negotiating an on-ramp to the beltway, one of the floor panels flew out of the truck bed! Poor John had to retrieve it and get it securely back on the truck by himself so he could return it before we were charged for an additional day’s rental. Whew!
Janis Grimes and Bill Hopkins gave us a preview of the shag routine they will present at the VA State Open Competitions next weekend. We got to see their great dancing style!
Guests from Baltimore, New Jersey, Portsmouth, and Lynchburg made the evening even more festive.
Nick and Debbie Nichols loaned us the use of their large grilling apparatus and Nick did the cooking! As chef extraordinaire, Nick Nichols, did a gourmet job on our burgers and weenies. A large “thank you” to him and to the many other fine cooks who contributed deliciously to the cuisine of the evening. Additional chefs included: Valerie, Patricia, Rick, Carmie, Mark, Sharon, Ruth, Bonnie, Bob, Janis, Sandy and Joan.
There were many other offers of “what can I do to help” throughout the evening, and we were grateful for every one. Truly, the night would not have been successful without everyone contributing and purchasing the Club’s “My Heart Belongs to Shag” cassette tape. It was tremendous fun, and we made a profit of $118 for our club’s treasury!
In those days, it wasn’t a question of “Do we want to do this, or not?” It was more like, “This is happening, and we’re there.” Nothing short of an emergency took preference over our dance of choice, Carolina Shag. The teamwork was remarkable.
In March 1995, the club treasurer reported funds of $1,275.27.
Everyone was inspired when Brent Key and Shea Carver won the VA State Open Championship Overall Classic competition in October 1995, and a free trip to Anaheim, CA, to represent Virginia and Carolina Shag at the U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships. NVSC pride extended to Billy White and Karen Garmon of Virginia Beach, First Place Amateur Shag winners and Fourth Place in the Overall Classic competition. Congratulations also went to Rick Hendrix and Liz Kestler, Sid Strawderman and Linda Minton of the Richmond Shag Club, Bill Hopkins and Chris Pax, and Ed Magin and Janis Grimes for smooth and precise footwork in the Amateur Classic and Open Classic Shag competitions. (See results of Anaheim competition below – Sho Enough)
It is proper, right here, to single out and acknowledge the work of Janis Grimes, because, very possibly, without her behind-the-scenes persistence, energy and effort to motivate and bring people together in those early days, the club would not have survived this time of its birthing, or it may not have grown as rapidly and successfully as it did. She consistently brought the NVSC to the attention of not only local dancers, but to others in the Shag community from Virginia Beach, Richmond, Myrtle Beach, throughout the Carolinas, and as far North as New Jersey and New York. They came, by her gentle persuasion, to participate and check us out. Her dedication to the club and to the dance and music was inspiring and worthy of high honor and regard. Her devotion is commendable still, today, into the year 2003.
A Lesson in Class
Although I was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in northern Virginia, I have deep roots in North Carolina. My mother was from Henderson, and so we made that road trip and visited my grandparents often when I was growing up. My older brother was born and raised in Durham and attended Duke University. I attended college at (where else?) East Carolina in Greenville, and I still have friends and relatives in North Carolina.
Just thought I’d mention it in case someone might have the mistaken idea that since I’m a “native,” then I must be a damn Yankee or something close to it… (haha). But, everyone knows that Northern Virginia is not “the North” – don’t they? This area is abundant with memorials, souvenirs, artifacts; you can hardly go a mile without spotting some historical marker or other, noting an event of significance from the Civil War, which was fought all over northern Virginia, by the way. But I digress…
Class – some have it, and some don’t. By “class” I mean that quality possessed by people who know just how to put others at ease, and go out of their way to make sure that you’re comfortable and that you’re having an enjoyable time.
One of the hallmarks of the shag world is the way shaggers treat people. I have never – in all the shag events, weekend functions, and the times I’ve been to Myrtle Beach – ever seen any sign of disrespectful or discourteous behavior among the shaggers, even with all that partyin’ going on!
Of course, there are exceptions to everything, but in this case it must be truly rare. (Okay, once there was a gal on an elevator who’d had waaay too much to drink, and I guess she forgot she was in mixed company. But still, she wasn’t confronting or insulting anyone else.)
The point is that there is a sense of elegance and refinement that permeates the South, and it is prevalent among shaggers. Another thing is their insistence that women be treated with respect – their code of behavior does not tolerate rudeness, and I like that … I like that a lot.
One of the things I noticed at my first shag weekend (besides the !!Music!! reverberating out of the ballroom) was the friendliness of the people… how they went out of their way to make newcomers feel welcome; how they’d talk with you, dance with you, draw you in and make you feel like they were genuinely glad you were there. (They were!)
This graciousness seems to be second nature to Southerners, who are born and raised with a sense of gentility and warmth that oozes out. It gets in and around and under you, and lifts you right up in a Southern embrace.
The Nation’s Capital draws people from all over the country and from around the world. But it is still very much a city with a distinct Southern flavor and charm.
And the Northern Virginia Shag Club is drawing new members at an impressive rate, because we’re more than just a dance club. We offer great music and dancing, but also great people, camaraderie, friendships, road trips, vacations, and a lot more fun than you’d expect. Shag – a Southern dance of style and grace. What an unexpected lesson in class. Reprinted from the Carefree Times, 1995
The 1995 Christmas Party at the McLean VFW was another work-of-art masterminded by Pauline Easby-Smith and Donna Harrington. The VFW was festively and artfully decorated. Food and music were great, and everyone had a good time.
1995 Christmas Party at the VFW
Pauline Easby-Smith and I were the scouts for an appropriate location. Of course, “appropriate” also meant cheap! The VFW in McLean was the best candidate. It fit the bill as far as being inexpensive.
We didn’t have much of an allowance for decorations either, so Pauline and I borrowed most of the seasonal pretties from our own caches. I can remember making countless trips prior to and after the party just hauling stuff.
With the help of many hands we were able to transform that barren little place into a beautifully decorated party room, filled with myriad strings of little white lights. Of course, dimming all the other lights helped IMMENSELY.
THE TOP 50 SHAG SONGS OF 1995 (From the Charlie Byrd Beach Blast)
One Drop of Love Ray Charles
Love Comes Knockin’ Percy Sledge
She’s In a Midnight Mood Ollie Nightingale
Louise Louise Blues Champion Jack Dupree & Mojo Blues Band
Shama Lama Ding Dong Band of Oz
Beautiful Lover C. L. Blast
She Said The Same Things To Me Johnny Adams
Ability to Swing Patti Austin
Slow Boat to China Ronnie Dove
Real Love Johnny Taylor
Love Don’t Feel Like Love C. L. Blast
I’m In Love With The Girl Next Door Rue Davis
I Think About You Patti LaBelle
What’s Going On Frankie Gaye
Big Top Hat Stephen Burton
Morse Code of Love Capris
Look Into The Eyes Of A Fool Johnny Bristol
You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine Bill Fredericks
Tossing & Turning Pheobe Snow & The Johnny Johnson Band
Since I’ve Been Loving You Alexander O’Neal
If It’s News To You Johnny Nocturne Band
Over At Fannie Mae’s Charles Wilson
Believe It Or Not Billy Griffin
I’ll Be Around Rippingtons / Jeffrey Osborne
In The Room Next To The Room Charles Wilson
Let’s Stay Together Peter White
Love Potion #9 Hansel Martinez
September In The Rain Brenda Lee
Try A Little Harder Aaron Neville
Call The Plumber Joe Turner
Play It Like It Used To Be Alvin Lee
Baby Likes To Rock It Tractors
Honey In Your Heart Boots Randolph
Stop Loving You Stop Loving Me Daryl Hall
I Believe In You Bonnie Boyer
So Fine Terry Evans
Alligator Walk Mojo Blues Band
I Betcha O. C. Smith
Layin’ In The Alley Big Joe & The Dynaflows
Rough Side Of The Mountain Rev. F.C. Barnes & Rev. Jancie Brown
That Man Of Mine Betty Wright
Hound Dog Roll Jude Taylor & His Burning Flames
Whole Lotta Shaking Kings
See You Later Dee Dee Sharp
Happy Ever After Bee Gees
Soothe Me Rod Stewart
When Somebody Loves You Back Teddy Pendergrass
Bed Bug Boogie Barbara Blue Blues Band
So Good To My Baby Kid Ramos
All About You Gary Bass w / The Clovers
As President, one of the ways in which Charlie Price showed his devotion to the club and his love of shag was by being attentive to, and where possible, meeting club members’ needs; assuring that everyone got the most possible from being a club member and had every opportunity to experience the pleasure of dance. He did this by regular ongoing open communication with the board, individual club members, the deejay and Blackie’s management. His behind the scenes work, for which he received little outward notice or credit, greatly contributed to club success and club growth. Under his presidency the club rapidly grew to almost 200 members.