shaggin

What? 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 of the dancing kind, to that delightful mishmash musical genre known as “Beach Music,” the subject of a lengthy article in the latest issue of O. Henry, a magazine that 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:

When I asked a commuter student about the Castaways, he explained that it catered to college kids, all of them white, and featured local bands, also white, and the occasional Motown, Atlantic, Stax or other R&B acts, most of them black, performing popular music for dancing the shag, or as it was called in those days and in that place, the basic. “If you’re going to the Castaways,” my informant cautioned, “you better know how to dance the basic.”

But knowing how to shag wasn’t all; you also had to look the part. Explains 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 to the O’Henry home page. Enter 59 in the page window located above the current issue, and print or zoom to read.

Also check out our previous Ivy Style story on “Shag The Movie.” — c C m