Shagging In North Carolina

What? The headline makes perfect sense to me. What did you think it was referring to? Honi soit qui mal y pense.

The shagging in question is not the English sort but the dancing kind, to that delightful musical genre known as “Beach Music,” which was the subject of a lengthy article in a 2013 issue of O. Henry, which bills itself “the art and soul of Greensboro.” The story centers on a legendary nightspot in ’60s called the Castaways. Writes author Stephen E. Smith:

A male who danced at the Castaways wore a sports jacket and tie… over a starched white Oxford-cloth button-down shirt cursively monogrammed at the collar and cuff. Trousers were usually high-waisted, with a shiny alligator belt transvexing the dancer like a sack of meal. It was obvious that footwear was of the utmost importance… and highly-buffed alligator wingtipped tasseled loafers were the shoe of choice. I possessed none of the appropriate accouterments, but hoped to skate by with my khaki trousers, a blue dress shirt sans monogram, my new Harris Tweed sport coat, and Weejuns.

The article is viewable online by heading over here and scrolling to page 59.


White updating the link to this post, I came across another article on the Beach Music and Carolina Shag scene in the ’60s, which includes the following line:

I couldn’t help but notice that one of the guys was much more handsome than the other. Dressed in his madras shorts and sockless Weejuns, he looked like a model, all toned and tan and fine.

Tone up, gentlemen, and show of those bronzed legs and sockless Weejuns, a look said to originate in none other than North Carolina. — CC

12 Comments on "Shagging In North Carolina"

  1. There was nightly shag dancing when I visited Greenville SC this March, tons of fun, not hard to pick up, dunno if I’d ever have the heart to risk my tassels though.

  2. Geez thanks for this CC. This is so unashamedly up my alley. I miss 1966 in every sense of the word.
    Great pics, great piece!

  3. “I’ve Been Hurt” by the Tams as shown in this photo was the Southern party anthem in the day.

  4. And leather soled Weejuns were perfect for gliding across the dance floor, shaggin the night away.

  5. Such fond memories of the Day Lilly restaurant (aka, the Chinese Disco), shagging central in Washington, DC in the ’80s:

    During the week, the Day Lilly was an undistinguished Chinese restaurant downtown. But on the weekends, they’d push the tables back, someone would bring in a sound system, and girls from Trinity or Rollins and boys from Annapolis, Hampton-Sydney, and W&L would flood the dance floor. Thankfully, we Hoyas didn’t have to drive back to our campus, so the White Russians (the restaurant drink of choice, if you can believe it) flowed a bit more freely down our throats.

    (Come to think of it, it was the 80s. I’m sure the kids who had to drive home didn’t give two thoughts as to monitoring their alcohol consumption.)

  6. The Tams last had a chart hit in the US back in 1968, but they scored a #21 hit on the charts in the UK in 1987 with this little ditty:

    They charted with that one despite the fact that it was banned by the BBC . . .

  7. Terrier90 | July 8, 2021 at 6:18 pm |

    The Shag is the official state dance (a real thing) of South Carolina, the state where the dance an the film “Shag” starring Phoebe Cates was filmed in the mid 80s.

    If you think the use of the word shag in the U.K. is humorous, you should find out how it’s used in India.

  8. whiskeydent | July 8, 2021 at 8:09 pm |

    I came along after the shag had morphed from a dance to a carpet. I’m told the former was more fun. I sure hope so.

  9. Alfred Morgan | July 8, 2021 at 10:13 pm |

    Yes, as per the first quote, our OCBDs were white, not blue,and collars were heavily starched.

  10. Fond memories of local bands and Johnny Sportcoat and the Casuals playing venues like the Peppermint Beach Club, Rouges, Duck-In, the Jew Mom and others and shagging and doing other very caucasian dances with pretty girls in sun dresses and having bonfires and everything that goes with them on the North End and Chic’s Beach on hot, salt water scented summer nights with no real responsibilities and Duck Heads, OCBDs, boat shoes and cigarettes and twenty year old Mercedes Diesels and Volvos and….

    Sorry, I got carried away.

    Happy Weekend,


  11. Terry Garratt | July 17, 2021 at 3:14 pm |

    Shagging in North Carolina. As an Englishman I can say there’s no answer to the title of this article. Made my day!

  12. RaleighPrep | August 29, 2022 at 9:11 pm |

    Love this piece. So glad the former publisher posted this, and the link to the wistful, sort of sad-sort of uplifting original article in O. Henry. The Carolina Shag—an official “State Dance” of both North and South Carolina—was, and still is, an important part of Carolina culture, and dripping with Trad, even today.

    The Castaways was long gone by the time of my college days in Greensboro, but we did the Shag at other clubs in the area. Fuzzy Ducks had a Shag Night, also Pritzzi’s (within stumbling distance of my college). The ol’ frat house was a Shagging scene whenever we hosted a sorority mixer, usually with a mix tape (yes, we’re that old) filled with Band of Oz, The Tams, Chairmen of the Board, The Embers, and other Beach Music bands. I was barely competent with the steps of the Shag, but held my own, having learned from watching my parents do the dance often, as they had back in the late 50s in clubs on the Atlantic Beach Circle: The Jolly Knave, Chevy’s and a few others, as well as Shag clubs in Myrtle Beach, S.C.: Ocean Drive Pavillon, Pawley’s Island Pavillon, and others.

    I haven’t done the Shag in quite awhile, last time being several years ago, with an old girlfriend and her parents when we went to Fat Harold’s in Myrtle Beach. It was a fun night, Shagging to the sounds of The Coastline Band.

    There’s still a very active Shag scene in the Carolinas, and even up to VA Beach. It’s more prevalent in eastern N.C., all the way up and down the coast, but there’s a few Beach Music/Shag Clubs in the interior. Raleigh still has T.J.’s Nightlife and the appropriately-named Loafer’s Beach Club, all with classes for newcomers to learn the dance steps. (But again, if you have any coordination at all you can learn just by watching the older locals do it right.)

    The old Shagging “uniform” of sport coats and ties has (sadly) disappeared—Polo shirts and khaki shorts now hold sway—but the Bass Weejun loafers (with pennies) is still a mainstay, cause’ if you’re a Shagging dude, it’s mandatory. (Plus, the smooth heels—and cold PBRs—keep your feet gliding.)

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