The ‘Carolina Shag’ is a partner dance done primarily to Beach Music (100-130+ beats per minute). Today, the Shag is a recognized dance in national and international dance competitions held across the United States.
The basic step in Carolina Shag is a six-count, eight-step pattern danced in a slot. The rhythm is similar to six-count Swing in that it is triple step, triple step, rock step or counted as “one-and-two, three-and-four, five-six”. There are eight shag dance steps. The “one-and-two” and “three-and-four” steps should take about as much time to complete as the “five-six.”
Carolina Shag often bears only the faintest resemblance to other dances that share the “shag” designation.
The term “Carolina Shag” is thought to have originated along the strands between Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina, during the 1940s. According to Bo Bryan, a Carolina Shag historian and resident of Beaufort County, the term was coined at Carolina Beach, North Carolina. The Carolina Shag is a descendant of Carolina Jitterbug, and its predecessor, Little Apple (whose origins can supposedly be traced to Columbia, South Carolina in 1937).
The 1989 film Shag starring Bridget Fonda, Phoebe Cates, Annabeth Gish, and Page Hannah as four high school friends on their last road trip together before graduation, was filmed in Myrtle Beach and features the Carolina Shag.
In 1997 the country music band Alabama recorded the single called “Dancin’, Shaggin’ on the Boulevard” referencing this style of dance.
In a 2014 episode of Steve Harvey (TV series), Harvey introduced a couple who dance the Carolina shag, and then Harvey disclosed that he has been studying and practicing the Carolina shag for an hour a day for the past year.