The North Carolina “state dance” is the traditional beach music dance — the shag. What a huge testament to the rich history of beach music! As the notes of the iconic beach music became mainstream, the time-honored shag arrived in oceanfront music halls along the Atlantic.
Wikipedia states: The Carolina shag is a partner dance done primarily to beach music (100-130+ beats per minute in 4/4 time signature). Today, the shag is a recognized dance in national and international dance competitions held across the United States.
The term “Carolina shag” is thought to have originated along the Atlantic Ocean in the Carolinas during the 1940s.
According to Bo Bryan, a Carolina shag historian and resident of Beaufort County, the term “Carolina shag” was coined at Carolina Beach, North Carolina.
The Carolina shag is most closely associated with what is known widely as Beach Music or “Carolina beach music”. It is also known as also known as the “swing dance of the South.”
Based on a six-beat, shag dancers move to “one-and-two, three-and-four, five-six,” which is known as the 4/4 “blues shuffle.”
Regions and dancers have their own “flavor,” but the unique beach bop is fun to watch and do. It’s sort of like riding a bike… once you learn how to feel that rhythm and shuffle those feet, you’ll never forget.
The origins of beach music date back to the late 1940s with much of the phenomenon impacting teenagers and college students vacationing just south of our area.
From this period through the mid-1950s, during which a culture shift was taking place in the country, the hunger to hear this compelling music grew.
WLAC, a Nashville, Tennessee radio station, played a significant role in spreading the beach music sound, as it led emerging radio stations across the Carolinas and region. The new gospel-infused R&B called soul music rode this momentum as well.
Beach Music in Pop Culture
The next wave of beach music in the 1950s and ’60s included influential R&B artists — such as the Dominoes, the Drifters, the Temptations, the Four Tops, the Tams, and Chairmen of the Board — producing “beach records.” For example, pop hits like “Build Me Up, Buttercup” by The Foundations were included in the “beach music” category because they had the right time and tempo.
The traditional “beach bands,” with a heavy Motown and other R&B influence, rode in on the next wave in the 1960s and ’70s and spread inland to urban areas. Beach party movies were also popular on the big screen in the early part of this period.
Beach Music and “The Shag” gained national attention in the 1989 movie “Shag” (also known as Shag: The Movie) is a 1989 American comedy film starring Bridget Fonda, Phoebe Cates, Annabeth Gish, Page Hannah, Jeff Yagher and Scott Coffey.
The soundtrack album was on Sire/Warner Bros. Records.
Here is The original trailer in high definition: