Hard-Core Cadre

SOS is in full swing in Myrtle Beach. The faithful and hardcore come together to dance. The crowds pack a six-block area of North Myrtle Beach. The Shag joints are jumping. There are no fights in the streets nor even a serious frown in the crowd. The overriding emotion seems to be love.

Always in my mind, the word Shag descends from a blindingly cute girl who taught me the proper basic step, the fly-back and the boogie walk. Until Suzanne Cozart arrived on the Grand Strand, I was only a spectator, a wall flower at the beach bums’ cotillion. As a late bloomer, I chased the sunburned peaches and listened to the stories the older dancers told of the glory days. The legend of the Shag was already larger than life by the first night I entered a graffiti-encrusted beer joint called The Pad.

The great dancers, male and female, were epic figures in my mind. Their way of doing and being became my model for attaining confidence and whatever physical grace I possess. I learned to tell verbal stories from dancers who filled me with gallons of ever-clear, hundred-and-ninety proof memories. In no small way, I owe my inspiration as a writer to the Shag and to the characters the dance produced.

This week, the hard-core cadre is still out there, pushing the limits of the do-able in 4/4 time. Nobody who learned the Shag ever forgot how.