The shag is a form of swing dancing that evolved from the jitterbug and jump blues of the big band jazz era and originated along the strands between Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina, during the 1940s. It is most often associated with beach music, a genre of rhythm and blues-based songs that lend themselves to this dance form. According to Bo Bryan, a noted shag historian and resident of Beaufort County, the term was coined at Carolina Beach, North Carolina. Today, the shag is a recognized dance in national and international dance competitions held across the United States.
In the dance the upper body and hips hardly move as the legs do convoluted kicks and fancy footwork. The man is the center of attention and the woman's steps are either mirror steps of the man's or a sort of marking time while he does spins and other gyrations.
The shag is the state dance of North Carolina and South Carolina, and is still popular amongst residents of both states.
The 1989 film Shag starring Bridget Fonda, Phoebe Cates, Annabeth Gish, and Page Hannah as four high school friends on their last road trip together before graduation, was filmed in Myrtle Beach and features the Carolina shag.Click here for a list of Carolina Shag classes offered.