Down the Memory Lane of North Myrtle Beach - A Brief History of Shag
Posted by SSM | Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Down the Memory Lane of North Myrtle Beach - A Brief History of Shag

Shag Dance
Image courtesy

Few things spark nostalgia and represent the golden days of North Myrtle Beach like Shag music and dancing on the beach. Many generations born and raised across the Coastal Carolinas have great memories that include the sandy oceanfront, populated piers, laughter, music, and lots of dancing.

For almost a century now, the iconic Shag dance has flavored the culture of North Myrtle Beach with its catchy rhythm and cheerful, imaginative steps. When you go out on the town in our fun-loving city, you're hard-pressed to find anyone who loves dancing who is not familiar with the official State dance. Furthermore, they'll probably be happy to break out in dance for you and give you a lesson. That's just how fun and friendly the Shag culture remains here in North Myrtle Beach.

The long history of the Shag is a bit of a mystery. No one knows for sure its unique and specific roots, and the ideas vary; some theorize it comes from Africa, and others have presumed it to be of European lineage. No matter its origins, it certainly became an iconic staple across the beach towns in North and South Carolina beginning in the 1940s.

At a time when segregation was in full force, and cultural norms were a far cry from what they are today, the Shag was a joy across the Carolinas that was relished by all along the beach.

"The sheer power of the emotional appeal of music brought the races together," says Dino Thompson, life-time Myrtle Beach resident and an original South Carolina Shagger. "Black and white, rich and poor, jumped the rope and came down from the balconies to share the music and memory."

Shag Dance Old image
Image courtesy

At the time, the six-count, eight-step dance was known as the Carolina Shag. Over the next couple of decades, the Shag gained significant popularity and began to draw multitudes of visitors to the coast who traveled to participate in large gatherings, Shag dance-offs and community events. One of the most popular spots for friends to gather and dance was at the Roberts Pavilion here in North Myrtle Beach.

The music that became synonymous with the Shag is the result of a truly unique collaboration of talents. As Motown gained popularity, several individual artists and blues performers loaned their music to the development of the particular sounds that made Shag music so memorable and unmistakable.

In 1984, South Carolina designated the Shag as the official state dance. This cultural milestone not only honored the distinctiveness of our state but today still celebrates the art that continues to give South Carolina and North Myrtle Beach - timeless life and character.

By the early 2000s, nearly a million people across the country considered themselves Shaggers, many of whom make up the Society of Stranders and the Association of Carolina Shag Club.

The Shag has been recognized numerous times across pop culture and was memorialized in the title of the Alabama hit, "Dancin', Shaggin' on the Boulevard." In the 90s, the song peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard chart and secured a number one spot in the hearts of many.

Today, the Shag remains a fundamental aspect of the dance culture across North Myrtle Beach.

Whether you're visiting on vacation or just passing through, take a chance, and learn something new. Grab your dance partner and get ready to make cherished memories as you hit the town and the dance floor.

Fat Harold North Myrtle Beach

Visit one of our great Shag venues for a guaranteed enjoyable experience:

Join us in our element on the dance floor and watch as the heart of North Myrtle Beach beats to the rhythm of the Shag!


Let Thomas Beach Vacations help you plan your beach getaway. Choose from North Myrtle Beach rentals with a pool/pool access, pet-friendly homes, oceanfront homes, oceanfront condos, and more for your North Myrtle Beach vacation.

Start Your Search Today!

Browse the Archive

Back to Top