Carolina Shag Dancing at Brunswick Forest’s November Homecoming Event

November 6, 2019
Gabe Moore

The smooth sounds of what has come to be known as “beach music,” have long been associated with waterfront towns here on the Southeastern Carolina coast. Equally just as famous, is the unique style of dance that goes along with beach style music. Created in the 1940’s, Carolina shag dancing has roots that are rumored to span back to old African traditions. Regardless of the actual origin, there’s no denying that Carolina shag has had a powerful cultural impact in areas like Wilmington, North Carolina. Brunswick Forest now has its own club where you can learn this fun and energetic style of dance!

Considered the state dance of South Carolina, the shag is equally popular here in the lowlands of North Carolina. Shagging is widely accepted to be a descendant of other dances such as the Jitterbug and Charleston. Some historians even vouch that the dance’s unique one-and-two, three-and-four, five-and-six steps go back to African traditions that were carried to the South. Due to some of the swing dancing elements, Carolina shag is also known as “the swing dance of the South.” Originally started in the coastal towns of South Carolina, shagging quickly moved up the coast to North Carolina as it grew in popularity. Towns like Wrightsville Beach even built dedicated areas, such as The Lumina Pavilion, solely for people to engage in daces like the Carolina shag. Shag dancing began to lessen in popularity during the 50s, being swapped in favor of Rock and Roll. Over the years, Carolina shag has become a re-discovered passion of local Carolinians. The concept is to move back and forth with your partner, mirroring each other’s movements in complete unison. Usually, the male dance partner will lead with his left foot, while a lady will follow suit with her right. These steps are the basics of shagging, though the dance also allows for more complicated steps as the dance partners become better.

The basics of Carolina shag are simple and can be learned by anyone! Most of all, shag dancing is a whole lot of fun to experience. Brunswick Forest now has a brand-new Shag Dancing Club headed by residents Steve and Lorrie Gregory! Steve and Lorrie retired in 2007 and decided that they had enough of the cold in Illinois where they lived. They state, “We had already frequented the Wilmington area on a regular basis, and over time decided that this was the place for us to live.” Steve and Lorrie felt that Brunswick Forest was a perfect match for them, because of all the accommodations offered for them to live their active lifestyle. “We have been dancers since college. We found out about shag dancing and line dancing through all the summer concerts offered in the Wilmington area throughout the year. These events provided us with plenty of opportunities to dance,” Steve and Lorrie continue. “As we progressed, we felt that we really wanted to share these fun experiences with others. We started teaching classes at the fitness and wellness center for free just to encourage people to enjoy life as we do.” When asked what makes shag dancing important, Steve and Lorrie replied, “It keeps you young!  Dancing is said to be one of the best exercises for the body and brain. Shag music is fantastic, and we’re lucky to have opportunities all around the Wilmington area to dance to it.”

If you’re interested in staying active through dance, ask about the new Shag and Line Dancing Club held at Brunswick Forest! There will also be a shag dancing demo held during our November Homecoming Weekend!