The Jitterbug, like the Shag, was a social dance. It served no religious or ritualistic function. However, through its performers, the patterns of the dances reflected the overall environment of the times.
The Jitterbug justified overt pelvic contact. On ballroom floors across the nation, male dignity and female conservatism took a back seat to daring and exhibition. In the short years leading up to World War II, the natural, subconscious inclination of young people to breed more prolifically, in order to preserve the species,fueled a dance craze that brought male and female together in near pounding, public embrace.
The Jitterbug was a new kind of sexual catalyst, courtship that cut straight to the chase. Young women allowed themselves to be whirled twirled and thrown into the air, revealing their lower bodies when sun dresses billowed above their shoulders, then caught themselves, spread-legged around the torsos of young boys headed for battle.
Even, or perhaps especially in the South the desire to dance to symbolically prepare to breed burned in a generation about to take part in a great and bloody crusade. The Southern kids were hot, yet traditional values and regional righteousness were not easily abandoned.
The young men and women, who adopted the Northern dance, applied ingrained habits of decorum and understatement to the sexual catalyst. Male desire notwithstanding, the flying Jitterbug had it swings clipped below the Mason-Dixon Line. All around a small territory – bounded in the west by the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the north by the OuterBanks of Pamlico Sound, and in the south by theSavannah River, the fundamental speed of the Jitterbug contradicted the Southern predisposition to seek shade in the heat of the day, to work, talk, love and dance at a rhythm most closely associated with the pendulum swing of a rope hammock.
Whereas the Jitterbug was a hot shot of vodka, the Shag became a cool sip of charcoal filtered whiskey.