Carolina Beach Music
The Music, The Dance, The life
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Carolina beach music
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Older, not well known
Hi there Web surfers .... I'm BJ and I hope to share some of the good life at the Carolina Coast .... I've been to most major Tropical vacation beaches/Shores, but believe me ..... there's nothing ..... repeat nothing ...... like the Carolina beaches for day and night life that's still in the tradition of the 1960's ........
Home of the "Shag" ( Dance ) and SOS
( "Society Of Stranders", or to some "Shagging On the Strand" )
The Home of Carolina Beach music, good times and cool dancing in the 1960's style ( A time when we all respected one another and it was cool just to be nice ). In South Carolina it's Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Ocean Drive and Cherry Grove. In North Carolina it's Calabash, Carolina Beach (Pleasure Island), Wrightsville Beach and Atlantic Beach. If you want to go all the way and really get into the tradition, visit Ocean Drive, SOS headquarters and home of "Fat Harold's" the best Shag/Beach music bar ever. This is where everyone goes to drink, Shag and meet great people
"The Shag".... and Carolina Beach Music
The exact origin of the Shag aren't known, but it's generally considered a form of Southern swing dance (Or the BOP), influenced by jazz, blues and gospel music. The dances popularity soared on the coast of the Carolinas in the 1940s and 50s, especially along the Grand Strand. The shag had its origins in black nightclubs and was done to R&B music. Young white dancers crossed racial boundaries by going to the clubs to watch dancing. They took the dance to the old Myrtle Beach Pavilion and the old Pad at Ocean Drive, now part of North Myrtle Beach. Since 1984, it has been South Carolina's official state dance. North Carolina adopted shagging as a state dance in 2005.
The Carolina shag is a swing dance that shares many moves with jitterbug, east coast swing, and west coast swing, and not to forget the good old Bop -- not to be confused with Surf Music. The 60s riffs of the Rip Chords, the Ventures, and Jan & Dean were perfect for twisting in the sand, but far removed from shag dancing. Slower than the West Coast Swing, this dance didn't bounce or hop, it's glided, and was best enjoyed barefoot in the sand.
Some historians say the term Shag was coined at Carolina Beach, NC, but that's debatable since Duck-Tailed guys and pretty girls danced to Beach music in 4/4 time from Virginia Beach to Savannah, Georgia.
A small coterie of fans, however, claim Carolina Beach as its birthplace. At least some documentary evidence can be found to support this. Broadcaster " 'Fessa" John Hook, in his 2005 book "Shagging in the Carolinas," reproduces clippings from the Morning Star and other Wilmington newspapers, dated as early as 1932, describing "shag dance" contests. A large "shag" contest ended the 1935 season at Wrightsville Beach's Lumina Pavilion. "Many requests have been made for a night featuring 'shag' music," another 1935 clipping noted.
Lewis Philip Hall in his book "Land of the Golden River," claimed to have introduced the shag at the second "Feast of the Pirates" festival in August 1928 in Wilmington. Hall had something of a reputation of not letting details stand in the way of a good story, but singer Kay Keever recalled doing the dance with Hall in 1930: "He invented the Shag, you know." "Everyone down at the beach learned the Shag," recalled artist Claude Howell. "We'd go to someone's porch at the beach, and someone would show the rest of us. Then on to the Lumina and invent some more (steps)." Hall claimed that his shag morphed from a combination of the Charleston and the varsity rag. (A dance called the Collegiate Shag circulated for a while in the 1930s.) Whether his shag was the same as the shag we know now is unclear. By the summer of 1937, however, Shep Fields and his orchestra had recorded "The Shag - Fox Trot" for Bluebird Records and by August 1937, "The Shag" had reached the No. 18 position on Billboard magazine's radio chart. Benny Goodman released sheet music for his version of the shag ("The New Dance Craze?) in 1939.
One of the acknowledged masters of shag dancing was Malcolm Ray "Chicken" Hicks (1925-2004), a Durham native who relocated to Carolina Beach in 1943. Hicks, along with his brother Bobby and a number of other young locals, was sneaking over to Seabreeze, the nearby black beach resort, to check out the latest music and steps in the "jump joints" there. By 1946, he was convincing Carolina Beach bar owners to slip black musicians' records on their jukeboxes, and at Carolina Beach clubs like the Sugar Bowl, he was demonstrating new steps for what he called the "jump." Witnesses say people were shag dancing at the Ocean Plaza ballroom at Carolina Beach by the summer of 1948. Soon afterward, however, after a series of bar fights and a couple of well-publicized homicides, police cracked down on "jitterbug bums" and saw that most of Carolina Beach's "jump joints," including the Sugar Bowl, closed. By 1950, the shag had shifted almost entirely to the Myrtle Beach, S.C., area.
The shag is a smooth, graceful dance with an emphasis on footwork, rather than on turns. Unlike the jitterbug, or BOP, shag does not have bounce. Instead, it's smooth and grounded. The old saying is that shag is danced from the waist down. Shag emphasizes footwork patterns and patterns that are matched between the two partners. These matched steps are called mirror steps. The partners are typically connected with one hand only, rarely with two hands as is common in jitterbug. Historically, shag tended to spotlight the male dancer, but this is starting to change. Carolina shag uses the same footwork as east coast swing: triple step, rock step. Some dancers use a kick-ball-change step in place of the rock step.
The dance has a variety of styles, depending on who is dancing, or on who describes it to you! For some, the dance is playful, with a lot of partner interaction, and both partners taking opportunities to "shine". For others, it is "mirror moves" galore. For yet others, the leader "peacocks" a variety of complex (Tippy-toe) improvisations, while the follower performs subtle (or no) footwork variations. It depends on the skill level and mentality of each partner, as well as on regionality and decade. Shag is a couples event, simply enjoying your partner and the beat.....not trying to out do the others......
In The last 30 years or so, the Shag has migrated to a "out do you", tippy toe jerky style, rather than the flat footed smooth glide it was. I guess it's because of the slick hardwood floors rather than the sand. BUT.....I's still a treat to see.....
Flat footed smooth, gliding and grounded shaggers are the best to watch!
The city of year-round shag is North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In particular, the Mecca of shag is a small section of North Myrtle Beach called Ocean Drive Beach. In the Ocean Drive section of North Myrtle Beach, several nightclubs cater to shaggers, providing the beach music and the slick hardwood dance floors they desire. In particular, Fat Harold's and Ducks are true-blue shag bars and both feature large hardwood dance floors and a great dance environment. In addition, other clubs such as the O.D. Cafe and the O.D. Pavilion offer shag activities.
The two biggest annual events on the shag/beach calendar happen, naturally, in North Myrtle Beach, SC, and those are the April Spring Safari and the Fall (September) Migration. For a list of other national shag events see S.O.S. web page link to the left.
Beach music is usually a slow groove that's easy to partner-dance to, and tends to be poppier and happier than the usual gut bucket soul of the South. It has origins in New Orleans Soul from the early Sixties, early doo-wop, and can also incorporate some garage-rock sounds. "Double Shot Of My Baby's Love" by the Swinging Medallions is a favorite, as is Billy Ward and his Dominoes' "Sixty Minute Man." See Betty B's Music link to the left.
The Carolina shag may be danced to classic beach music tunes such as Carolina Girls, Under the Boardwalk, and I Love Beach Music, or to Motown and blues. Most shag music is interchangeable with west coast swing music written in 4/4 time. However, beach music is usually defined as brassy, easygoing pop-soul with a very sweet leading edge: the group Chairmen of the Board, famous for their genre-defining 1970 single "Give Me Just A Little More Time," are considered the kings of this style, with the Tams -- famous for 1963's "What Kind Of Fool (Do You Think I Am)" -- coming in a close second. Together, the two singles could be seen as benchmarks to the beginnings of the "Carolina Beach Music" sound.
NOTE: I have included a lot of Beach Music examples in the Jukeboxes
to the left.......and on page 2.