by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi
Sand, sea and warm summer breezes. Beach music captures a feeling and that feeling flows at KC’s Crabs and Cues on Thursday nights when the Northern Neck Shaggers (and Line Dancers) bring their captivating shuffle step to the dance floor.
It’s fun to watch and even more fun to try.
“It’s good exercise for you physically and mentally,” said the club’s co-founder Ray Paul. She and Earl Barton founded the dance group three-and-a-half years ago. On average between 24 and 30 members attend the Thursday night dance parties at KC’s Crabs and Cues, 10428 Jessie Dupont Memorial Highway, Kilmarnock.
“Shag is a six-count beat, so you could also swing or free style,” said Paul.
DJ Greg Howell of Mathews spins the beach music tunes, which combines several genres from Motown to disco. Made popular in beach resorts in the Southeast, beach music has a distinctive beat. It’s the kind of music you cruise to with the top down in your convertible or blast over your speakers in the back of your pickup truck.
Shag dancing, also known as the Carolina Shag, is thought to have originated in the Carolinas in the 1940s. There’s some debate about whether it started in South or North Carolina.
But there’s no debate, at least among Northern Neck Shaggers, shag dancing is a great way to spend a Thursday evening.
David Saling of Burgess has been with the group since it started, while Sharon Collins of Kilmarnock joined just two years ago at the urging of her sister.
“It’s a great way to spend your evening,” said Saling. “I like dancing but also hanging out with the crowd.”
According to Paul, along with dancing the Shaggers is a social club and support group of sorts.
“We celebrate when there’s something to celebrate, and we share concerns,” she said. “The biggest part is respect for each other and camaraderie.”
Paul said the Shaggers are always looking for new members and she urges anyone who wants to learn the dance, or learn line dancing, to join the group on Thursdays.
There are beginning shag lessons from 6 to 6:30 p.m. with beyond beginner shag lessons starting at 7 p.m. Line dancing instruction and review starts at 8 p.m. Open dancing follows each lesson. Dancing ends at 9 p.m.
Shag dancing is fun for all age groups and all skill levels, said Paul.
“Take a break, make new friends, have fun and come join us each Thursday night,” she said.