Entries by Jess Dennis

The Birth of Beach Music

Come the summer of 2017, the Shag, the legendary dance of the South, will celebrate its 74th anniversary of conception. In June of 1943, it came to pass that Race Music, gut-level Rhythm and Blues, the sound later labeled Rock-n-Roll found its way onto jukeboxes along the Carolina coast. The Southern teenagers called it Beach […]

Bermuda Shorts—1968

The best part of me lives for the rhythms of summer, in the neon glow of youth where the songs on the jukebox never change. That old gold music reminds me to dance, for the memory of dancing all night, with a pretty stranger, both her and you growing prettier the longer the night lasted.  […]

History of the Dance

Twenty-three years ago, I wrote a book called SHAG, THE LEGENDARY DANCE OF THE SOUTH.  At Christmas time, in 1995, SHAG was the hottest selling book in the Carolinas, second only to Howard Stern’s Private Parts. How that book came about, who lived and died—nobody got rich, because not enough geniuses agreed on the basic step.  But a girl did […]

The Next Breath

Once, in the sixth or seventh grade, my father took me to a high school football game. We stood in the end zone watching the last gasp of another gridiron tragedy for the Myrtle Beach Seahawks, chronic underdogs in those days. I remember Angus Witchen running for the end zone corner. He came straight at […]

Center of the Heavens

All I wanted in high school was a date with Francine Little, the Pekingese puppy. An inexplicably magnetic agglomeration of parts she was. Seemingly mismatched parts if viewed separately, and yet her upturned nose, her chunky cheeks, her too skinny legs, all came together genetically to form a girl who did not look even a […]

Granddaddy Grandeur

My grandfather came to Myrtle Beach in 1902. First hand, I don’t know much about him. James Edward Bryan, nick-named “Big Jim” died a good ten years before I was born. I can’t help bragging that I’m related to him. He was an equity partner and general manager of interests particular to the Burroughs and […]

The Measure of Wealth

In my hometown, real estate is the only wealth proper to a man. The same is said of oil in the Middle East. Cattle and horses were more valuable than whatever passed for money in cultures that have come and gone. Land in Myrtle Beach was not always the measure of wealth. At one time, […]

Garden of Fire: Myrtle Beach 4th of July

The gunpowder flowers bloom just after dark, MYRTLE BEACH FOURTH OF JULY. A display of fireworks UTTERLY UNIQUE, miles and miles of gunpowder flowers ABLAZE: flaming roses, orchids of white lightning, hydrangeas of blue flame A SIXTY MILE RUN OF WHITE SAND BEACH a star spangled marathon of ornamental explosions, GUNPOWDER FLOWERS BLOOMING FOR HOURS […]

Maybe Next Time

I never liked roller coasters that much. Anymore, I’m too old to ride them without fear of a heart attack, even though I know the odds are pretty good, the ride will come to a safe end. The structure supporting the rails will hold, the coaster cars won’t fly off the track, and the steel […]