On January 9th, the NVSC sponsored Charlie Womble and Jackie McGee workshops in beginner, intermediate and advance shag. The cost to members was $10 per workshop, $15 for nonmembers. There was a dance that evening at Ft. Myer Community Center, with Judy Collins of Myrtle Beach as Deejay.
Brainchild of Heather Jennings, The First Annual SHAG-A-THON was held on February 6th from 12:00 noon until 5:00 p.m. at Macy’s Court, Springfield Mall. Club members recruited sponsors to pledge a certain amount for every dance they danced. Needless to say, members danced and danced and danced. Dennis and Nancy Gehley, Charlie Price, Larry Jones and Craig Jennings provided the music, donating their time. There were prizes for participants and refreshments and snacks galore. It was a huge success. Proceeds went to Hospice of Northern Virginia. Heather Jennings planned and coordinated the event. Over 60 members and guests turned out. Between $8,000 and $9,000 was raised for Hospice!
The NVSC Board began to look for an alternative dance location due to road and interchange construction predicted to take place around Blackie’s of Springfield. It was also rumored that Blackie’s would be demolished. They gave the membership the choice to move or stay. The membership opted to move to Nick’s Restaurant and Nightclub in Alexandria (thanks, Charlie Price, for suggesting Nick’s); and officially, on Wednesday, February 17, 1999, Nick’s became new home to the NVSC. The cover charge at Nick’s increased from $2 to $3.
On February 14th, the NVSC celebrated its 5th anniversary with a combined dance party with the DC Hand Dance Association. Denny Martin and Eddy Farmer shared deejay time with Craig Jennings. About 30-35 members attended. Betty Abshire brought in a huge anniversary cake.
March 20th. Shag Workshop with Larry and Shirley Jones presenting beginner, intermediate and advanced shag lessons. Dance that night at the Springfield VFW. Dennis and Nancy Gehley were deejays. Both events were well-attended and solid successes.
NVSC won FIRST PLACE again in the “Marching Troop” Parade at April Spring SOS with the theme: NVSC Salutes the OD Clubs. Joan McKinney’s idea for the parade was a winner. Val Swiger’s ability to pull it all together and actually bring it to fruition just confirmed her incredible management abilities. The Pirates, Bob Lutz and Jim Harley were so colorful that they attracted a television crew. And Andrea Crews’ duck costumes for Roy Camp and Bonnie Mahoney to represent “Ducks” were ingenious, clever and funny, i.e., orange tights, yellow webbed feet and duck bills, not to mention white duck bodies with feathers, wings and duck butts. Ahhh, those SOS Moments!
Saturday, April 10th, ‘No Frills Dance’ at the Springfield VFW kicked off a monthly Saturday night dance. Fee was $8 for members and $10 for non-members. Craig Jennings and Larry Jones were the deejays.
April 19th, 1999, thanks to the efforts of Treasurer Dennis Gehley, the IRS accepted NVSC as a non-profit social club exempted from paying Federal income taxes.
A few NVSC members danced onstage at the Fairfax County Fair, June 12th, for the fun of it, but also to ‘showcase shag’ to the general public and let more people know about the dance, the music, the club.
Saturday, June 26, NVSC hosted another ‘No Frills’ dance with Jerry Canada as deejay at the Springfield VFW.
Fourth Annual Capital Shag Classic 1999 The 4th Annual Capital Shag Classic was held the weekend of July 23, 24 & 25. New location was the Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites, First and Washington Streets, Alexandria. Weekend tickets were $55. Room rate was $69. Heather Jennings was coordinator. Larry Edwards was out-of-town guest deejay and Craig Jennings, Larry Jones, and Charlie Price, were local deejays. Brad Kinard and Jennifer Beaver presented the dance instruction workshops. Ads in the Capital Shag Classic Program sold at $30 full page, $20 half page and $10 quarter page. The new location played a role in the level of excitement and overall success of the Classic that year.
When the Capital Shag Classic was over, President Vesta Jones wrote: “The success of our shag club is a result of the combination of all of our skills and energies… builders, floor sweepers, deejays, database folk, decorators, party coordinators, workers, lifters, movers, storage space volunteers, partiers, bartenders, writers, parade participants and costumers, travelers, dance instructors and competitors, workshop planners, 50/50 raffle sellers, flier makers and printers, greeters, smilers, dancers, ticket sellers, friend-makers, photographers, filmers, web siters, editors, planners, and doers… the whole club gives generously of their time and talents where and when they can.”
But understand that the Northern Virginia Shag Club is not just another dance and party club. Club members continued to support their charity, Hospice of Northern Virginia, and to donate half of the proceeds of the 50-50 raffles each week to Hospice. The other half went to the winner.
July 30, Barry Durand’s SWING FLING hosted a Shag Division. Charlie and Jackie, Sam and Sarah West, and Michael Norris were judges and workshop teachers.
Judy Duke, National Competitor and shag instructor, presented shag workshops on September 11th at Nick’s, teaching beginner, intermediate and advanced lessons. Cost was $10 to members and $15 to non-members. Dance that evening at the Springfield VFW. Denny and Eddie, and Craig Jennings were the deejays.
September 17-26, 1999 SOS Fall Migration: The club members had a “meeting place” – first, The Barrel and Later The Boulevard Grill. Around 8:30pm, club members would begin their SOS nights together, with members then drifting off to their personal-favorite, later-night dance spots, most often, Ducks and Fat Harold’s.
Eventually, The Boulevard Grill became a popular spot for the NVSC’s afternoon and early-evening dancing. The Grill had hired two of our deejays, Craig Jennings and Larry Jones, for occasional SOS duty. (Sometimes billed as “The Shooter Dudes,” Larry and Craig also deejayed for SOS at Ducks and Ducks, Too.) The Grill also was one of the places, Ducks was the other, where NVSC held its SOS “free pour” parties.
On the last Sunday of SOS, NVSC members typically gathered at The Grill’s late-morning Gospel Shag party, where they danced with The Ministers. These “clerics” were a riotous collection of DJs and other Ocean Drive notables who wore long white robes, sang gospel, banged on tambourines and collected money for charity. It was a fine way to say “goodbye” to SOS and each other.
There was another event that held the club together at SOS throughout the 90s – the Friday afternoon drop-in that Valerie Swiger hosted at her beach condo. Val’s regular co-hosts and helpers were Bob Lutz and Larry & Mary Campbell.
On October 8-9, three NVSC couples traveled to Dunn, NC to compete in the annual Club Faces Open Shag Classic, an amateur shag contest to promote competition and camaraderie. Vesta Jones & David Rodgers and Don & Audrey Borja danced in the competition and Heather & Craig Jennings cheered them on. (See write up by A. Borja under Additional Articles below)
The NVSC Christmas Party was on December 11th at Springfield VFW. FREE for members, $5 for non-members.
By December 1999, and particularly during the last 2 years of club growth under President Vesta Jones, the Northern Virginia Shag Club continued to be accepted as one of the best in the ACSC and one that held importance in shaping the future of Carolina Shag. Club membership had grown to almost 400. The Club’s Bylaws had been rewritten to more accurately reflect the current policies and structure of the club. The club won first place in the Ms Fun Monday contest and won first place in two SOS parades, which put trophies in the club and money in the bank account. With Vesta Jones acting as the spark plug for the club’s Company Store volunteerism, the club won money and “top sales” awards on several occasions for successful efforts working in the SOS Company Store.
“Go on Record for Charity” record sales and a successful Shag-a-thon netted about $12,000 for Hospice. We moved the Classic to a new location. We moved the dance club to a new location (Nicks). The number of competitive shaggers expanded to four couples and the number of club deejays increased to five that are ABSCDJ members. The club expanded its dance instruction program to one that is respected and envied throughout the shag community. The club received official, legal, non-profit status from the IRS. And an NVSC plaque went up at Fat Harolds’s and club pavers went down on Main Street of North Myrtle Beach. Way to go, club members!
Anytime people band together -- even for a social purpose like a dance club -- there's often a simple impulse to do an occasional good deed for the community, especially at Christmas. The newly formed NVSC had that impulse, and joining the Association of Carolina Shag Clubs reinforced it. The ACSC requires its member clubs to adopt a charity, or otherwise respond to community needs. So, the Northern Virginia Shag Club began its charity work for modest reasons and with modest goals.
Charter Member Donna Harrington recalls that, soon after our admission to the ACSC, the Board discussed adopting a local charity. Donna says the discussion boiled down to "everybody's doing something for kids. Let's do something for old people." Donna took on the research task, calling numerous local organizations asking what they did and how they did it. She placed several options before the Board, and it voted for So Others May Eat, or “SOME.”
SOME is a Washington, D.C. organization that tends to the most basic needs of the homeless, the poverty-stricken, and families in distress. In their first year of supporting SOME, NVSC members donated personal-care items --- such as, soap and shaving supplies -- and Donna packaged the donations into individual-sized gift boxes. Another year, NVSC members donated winter coats and jackets. H.K. Lee arranged to have them dry-cleaned. He was quite a sight leaving Blackie's on Wednesday nights, almost hidden under the coats piled on his shoulders. They donated toys to needy children through an organization called Ho Ho Ho.
Meanwhile, the NVSC representatives to ACSC conventions and our traveling party-goers began to report back about the larger shag world.… and they sometimes reported on the amazing things that other shag clubs did to both help their communities and to expose their communities to shag: charity golf tournaments, yard sales, bake sales - and shagathons. Several ideas converged, and several things happened about the same time: At Dance Committee meetings of fellow instructors, Heather Jennings began to lobby for an NVSC shagathon for charity - to be held, Heather suggested, at whatever local mall would accommodate us.
At Board meetings, Pauline Easby-Smith and Vesta Jones regularly reminded the Board to support the club's charity work. The Board eventually asked each other (and the club) to make nominations for an official club charity, and an election was held. NVSC members voted for Hospice of Northern Virginia. Vesta Jones launched “Go On Record for Hospice.” Members donated old 45s and albums; people paid to autograph them in white ink; and the money was given to Hospice. These autographed records and albums are a permanent part of our decorating supplies. They've been displayed at the Christmas Party and in the lobby and hospitality suites at the Capital Shag Classic. At the '99 Classic, they also formed the huge arch-of-albums that dancers walked through on their way to the ballroom. For a period to time, the club also donated all 50/50 raffle proceeds to Hospice.
Meanwhile, the Dance Committee had endorsed Heather's idea for a Shagathon, and the Board approved it. As first Shagathon chairman in 1999, Heather contracted for Springfield Mall and designed the format: shaggers would get people to pay them to dance, and the money raised by the dancers would go to Hospice. DJs Dennis & Nancy Gehley, Craig Jennings, Larry Jones and Charlie Price donated their time. Roughly 60 club members danced, as did several competition shaggers. Janis Grimes and Bill Hopkins, Larry and Shirley Jones, Earl Robinson and Beverly Jones, Craig and Heather Jennings were standouts. AND, the NVSC got its first good look at then pre-teenager Grant Garmon -- already on his way to shag greatness -- who danced at the '99 Shagathon with his mother, Karen Garmon (now Karen Harper). Hundreds of shoppers stopped to watch and applaud. So, in addition to letting us help Hospice, the Shagathon helped us showcase shag to a wider audience.
Heather had set a goal of $5,000 for our first Shagathon. We far exceeded that, raising almost $9,000. The star fundraisers were Debbie Nichols, who raised $1,193, and Jeff Kincheloe, who raised $923.
After the first Shagathon, it was clear that the NVSC's venture into community service would be like so many other of the club's activities in the '90s: it began modestly, but it didn't stay that way very long. Like the dance instruction program, or participating in ACSC and SOS, or The Classic weekend, the charity program also exploded into something huge. Suddenly, we were a major fundraising force for Hospice, and that was one more way that we defined ourselves as a unique and successful club.
1999 VA State Open – Earl Robinson and Beverly Jones won First Place in the Open Classic Shag Division. Joan McKinney and Larry Boyer won First Place in the Amateur Classic Shag Division.
The objective of NVSC has remained the same since Dee met Rick and Liz – to promote Carolina Shag and Beach/Shag music – the dance that gives you a belly roll, a sugar foot, a pivot and a boogie walk to gut-wrenching, heart-pounding, energizing rhythm and blues music - the dance that almost died, caught on again, grew larger, and now, due to books, film and the efforts of many, will live on.
What you have in NVSC is a club and a dance with unlimited potential. Understandably, not all members will become hooked on the dance, but there will always be those who will be bitten by the same shag bug that has bitten so many. New members are warned that there is a medical condition that specifically affects NVSC members that spreads proportionately as membership increases and with every beat of the music. You may be subject to this condition. For your safety, read April 1995 newsletter article below.
CALL THE PLUMBER (Joe Turner)
Medical Alert: Peculiar Syndrome Spreads to D.C.
Modern medical scientists are closely monitoring peculiar occurrences in the Washington, DC area and around Springfield, Virginia, extending to La Plata, Maryland, with a couple occurrences identified in New Jersey and New York.
These are the first known cases of a seizure-like attack that affects humans in these locations, although large concentrations of people in the southeastern coastal states have suffered the attacks for many years. The disease is pervasive among members of the Northern Virginia Shag Club in particular.
Medical science has identified Beach/Shag music as a common factor linking the syndrome to humans, but they are unable to determine how it traverses time and space to invade the human bodies of both of males and females or to explain the involuntary compulsive, compelling, collective action that follows the invasion. Farm animals and pets do not appear to be affected.
At the precise moment that the rhythmic cadence of the component identified as Beach / Shag music begins, the syncopation enters the human body in the area of the ear and activates the nervous system, which triggers a pulsation in the chest. This causes heart acceleration that sends electromagnetic charges down the meridians to the feet.
The feet flip, flop, and flail. The knees follow feet. The fanny follows knees. The mind shuts down. The human body is impelled to twitch until the musical quavering stops. Sometimes there’s extreme energetic animation of the right arm and hand. The syndrome slowly invades the bones, which causes the pathetic human to react increasingly more impassioned as stages advance.
The scientific world has yet to discover whether the negative effect of the attack at this point is greater upon the human body or upon the music. Scientists have labeled the phenomenon the “Shaggon-Shagger” disease.
People of the D.C. area face no serious threat at the present time. Authorities will continue close monitoring of the Shaggon-Shagger disease. As long as Northern Virginia Shag Club members are mindful of the risks involved and the body has not been tattooed, they may continue to SHAG ON, SHAGGERS! 1&2; 3&4; 5,6……
(From NVSC’s Shag Rag; reprinted in the 1995 spring edition of the SOS Carefree Times.)
A FINAL MESSAGE TO THE NEXT GENERATION OF SHAGGERS OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM TO WHOM THE NORTHERN VIRGINIA SHAG CLUB, WITH LOVE, IS ENTRUSTED BY THE NINETIES OLDIES AND THE ORIGINAL FEW WHO STARTED IT, WHO PASS IT ON TO YOU:
Adhere to the integrity and original intent of the club and what it represents: (1) an elegant, beautiful dance with unlimited growth potential; (2) energizing music that grips the heart and gut; (3) a dance with a certain culture, attitude, style, and subtle sexiness; (4) a fraternity of people with a common goal.
Honor the privilege that is given to you to carry the torch forward; and preserve Carolina Shag and Beach Music so that they will not be defaced, deformed or devalued. Hold dear the legend of Carolina Shag, Beach music and the Northern Virginia Shag Club.
Remember what it is that’s so captivating about Carolina Shag and Beach Music. During those brief minutes when you are moving, flowing freely in unison with your partner to the beat of the music, there are no problems, no past, no future, no bills to pay or work to do. The feet don’t hurt. There’s no separation between you. Just your partner and you connected as one – timeless, ageless. Keep on Shaggin’.
And a great big THANK YOU to Rick, Liz and Dee. Without them coming together on that fateful evening… without their combined enthusiasm and joy for "our dance of choice,” there might not be a Northern Virginia Shag Club…and even if there were it wouldn't be as it is today. With every beat of the music and with every shag step, we appreciate you and love you for giving us this beautiful dance and its awesome music.