The Daily Gamecock

Columbia to host shag celebration

Break out your dancing shoes, because the 2015 Year of the Shag celebration will be held at the Columbia Marriott Hotel this weekend.

Out-of-state students might have heard the word “shag” tossed around, especially by South Carolina natives, but have no idea (or the wrong idea) what it means. For those who don’t know, the "shag" is the South Carolina state dance.More formally known as the “Carolina shag,” it's an upbeat, folksy, partner dance that originally developed between Myrtle Beach and Wilmington, North Carolina, in the 1940s. It is traditionally danced to rhythm and blues, or “Beach Music.” The shag was officially designated as the South Carolina state dance in 1984.

The Capital City Shag Club is hosting the celebration. The club has 288 members, ranging from beginners to those who have been dancing the shag for years. They often go to events with members of other shag clubs from all over South Carolina.

“Shaggers are one big happy family,” Marie Kiesel, communications coordinator and co-chair of the 2015 Year of the Shag celebration, said in an email.

Kiesel said Columbia mayor Steve Benjamin approached her in early June about a proposal for the celebration. Benjamin has invited all of the shag clubs in the United States to attend the celebration, and the Capital City Shag Club has advertised to the community through social media, radio and television, according to Kiesel.

Entertainment at the event will include live music from the Sensational Epics, a Columbia-based rhythm and blues band. The Sensational Epics first formed in 1963 and started playing for high school and college functions. The band split as members graduated college and pursued other careers. In 1999, the band regrouped with all but one of its original members. They were inducted into the Carolina Beach Music Association Hall of Fame in 2014. Other music will be provided by the Capital City Shag Club. The Columbia Marriott will be hosting free shag and line dance lessons during the celebration.

The celebration will take place on Saturday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the intersection of Main and Hampton streets and on Saturday evening from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Columbia Marriott Hotel. On Sunday, the event will continue from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Statehouse.

Benjamin plans to make the Year of the Shag an annual event, according to Kiesel. Admission to the celebration is free.