To enjoy the Carolina Shag, you don’t have to be going to a 1950s beach party. It is actually now a recognized competitive dance category and people of all ages are learning it and performing it across the country.
But there are only a few people that perfotm it as well as a group of 12-17-year-olds from North and South Carolina (where the dance originated).
Junior Shag Dance Team is a group of Carolina Shag Dancers who travel to perform and compete all over the world.
They’ve been 5-time US Open Formation Team Champions, 7-time USA Grand National Team Champions ever since the team was founded in 2008 by Brennar Goreeand. And Australian Open Formation Team Champions just recently.
They belong to the swing dance family, which also includes Dallas Push, East Coast Swing, Hand Dancing, Hollywood Swing, Houston Whip, Imperial Swing, Jive, Jitterbug, Lindy Hop, Rock-n-Roll, and West Coast Swing.
The Carolina Shag dancers boogied down to Rickie Lee Jones’ “Danny’s All-Star Joint,” Aretha Franklin’s epic song “Think,” and The James Cotton Band’s “How Long Can A Fool Go Wrong” during their championship 2019 OPEN performance.
And after winning so many prizes already, they appeared confidently from backstage, ready to rock the house.
The girls were dressed in hot pink jumpsuits (but still somehow managed to be more modest than 90% of other dance uniforms we’ve seen) and the boys in black dress shirts and pants, it looks like the beginning of a debutante ball – at least until they start dancing.
And even though those decades-old beach parties were a dancing free-for-all, these competitions have strict rules about what dancers can do and it’s all in the name of safety and community.
Dancers are expected to add flair – but without too many theatrics, even though the basic steps for the Carolina Shag are fairly simple.
The majority of the dance is performed with one hand grasping a partner’s but with both dancers at arm’s length. At its most basic, the Carolina Shag is a six-count, eight-step dance pattern, but as you’ll see there are pivots, turns, side-by-sides, kicks, and other fancy footwork that go into a great performance.
One thing that is especially difficult is group dancing and that’s because it requires more complex choreography and the dancers must be perfectly synchronized.
But the Carolina Shag dancers have no trouble with that, at least judging from the photos!
Their performance featured both partner dancing and group line-ups, requiring a good sense of the dancers around you (a team is only as good as it’s least on-the-ball dancer, after all!).
It is really a pleasure watching these 7 sets of performers– especially since partner dance isn’t your average teenage pastime (and Carolina Shag isn’t your average teenage dance genre!).
However, these young people (as well as the dancers who came before them) are committed to preserving the culture of the Carolina dance, rooted to the tradition.
Obviously, you don’t need to be on the East coast to participate in the Carolina Shag – there are studios teaching lessons around the country. And after watching this video you may just be tempted to give it a try after all!