Carolina Shag

Carolina Shag is the state dance of South Carolina. The state bill was introduced in 1984 by representative "Bubber" Snow, and signed by governor Dick Riley.

Shag is a swing-type of dance. Meaning it has 6 count (12 3&4 5&6, traditionally counted 1&2 3&4 56) and 8 count (12 3&4 56 7&8, or 1&2 34 5&6 78) patterns. It is like ECS in that it uses a rock step, it is like WCS because it is done in a slot. It is smoother than either of these: there is little or no hip motion.

The patterns are fairly simple, but you can do absolutely wild syncopations.
We're not talking break endings, we're talking taking 2 or 3 whole
basics and cutting the rhythm to pieces.

A distinguishing characteristic of Shag is that these syncopations
can be done with teh man/woman mirroring. Since they are so long
and complicated, and unleadable, the are called out by verbal cues.

Socially, shag is an interactive dance between the leader and follower. The couple would do challenge steps, mirrored patterns, or just dance. A challenge step would be when a leader or follower would do a sycopated basic and then the other person would try to out dance that step.

Web sites


The Legendary Dance of the South
Bo Bryan
Foundation Books
ISBN 9-780964-8084-0-9

St Louis Shag, Carolina Shag

These dances have abolutely nothing to do with each other. St Louis Shag is an old swing dance with an 8-count basic. It is related to Lindy and Charleston. Carolina Shag is a later development; it resembles a slotted East Coast Swing. Carolina Shag dancers (who call their dance simply 'Shag') mostly don't consider themselves swing dancers. St Louis Shag has some popularity among West Coast Swing dancers, who call this dance simply 'Shag'.

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Last modified on: Saturday, October 9, 1999.