Shagging In North Carolina


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

6 Comments on "Shagging In North Carolina"

  1. Je n’ai pas honte, je suis déçu. I thought it was going to be about the further adventures of Richard.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

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

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

  6. 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.)

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