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 die. And one got run over, and I left my wife, in effect, dove out of a crashing air plane piloted by a wild woman, leaving my three children onboard, under the full protection of the law. Cause the only chance I knew they had, was for me to land safe, and catch them when they grew up enough to jump. So that’s what I did.
I will not further compare the mythic shag dance to the source of Howard Stern’s questionable pride. Take it for granted, the dance will out live all vestiges of Howard, public or private.
It has already outlived most of those who invented it—long ago teenagers on the Carolina coast, who became the leading edge of a sexual imperative that radicalized Rock ‘n‘ Roll music in the white world ten years ahead of Elvis Presley. And it doesn’t matter one whit what the dance was. What it has become in a mechanism for the longevity of the people who do it. As well as agent for exercise that by design, and on occasion, leads to sex. Sometimes even just for the fun of it. Even if that never turns out true.
First you need the history of the dance, because without it, you can’t know the glamour of the characters, and the music makers. And without glamour there is no epic. For it must shine, and shag dance does.