Shagging in the dog days

By Chrysta Carroll -

ELIZABETHTOWN – Sometimes something is so much fun that you just have to do it again … and again … and again. The folks at Bladen Community College are betting that one of their classes meets that criteria, as they’ve teamed up with Roland’s Dance Studio in Hope Mills to offer shag lessons at the Cape Fear Farmer’s Market again starting this week.

“My job at BCC is to find things that interest the community, and when we offer certain classes, I ask the students what kinds of things they are interested in, and this was something that kept coming up,” said Stephanie Gonzalez, coordinator for community services at BCC.

The upcoming shag sessions will mark the third and fourth times the classes have been offered, and they’ve been met with good success, according to Gonzalez.

“It’s our state dance, so that’s one reason people like shag,” said Sunday McHenry of Roland’s Dance Studio, “and both North Carolina and South Carolina claim it as their state dance, but if you’re not from North or South Carolina, you may not know what shag is.”

Carolina shag, so named because of its supposed origins along southern North Carolina or northern South Carolina, began in the 1940s as a derivative of swing dancing and is commonly accompanied by beach music.

“If you go to the beach, you’re going to see them shag,” McHenry postulated. “It’s all over the place.”

Residents who attend the lessons won’t have to drive to the beach, however, to put their skills to the test.

“Every summer, they (the Chamber of Commerce) has the Sounds of Summer series,” said Gonzalez, “and people shag out there, so once they finish the class, they can dance at the concerts.”

She added, “People are always looking for something fun to do in the community, and this gives them the chance to have fun.”

McHenry is hoping that Bladen County residents will respond to the dance the same way some of her other students have.

“I have a teen class here in Fayetteville, and they never want to miss a class,” she said. “They love it and don’t want to age out of it.”

McHenry reported that there is no upper age limit for the class, but Gonzalez said that attendees must be at least 16 years of age.

Both beginner and intermediate classes will be offered at the Farmers Market in Elizabethtown, and both will last for six weeks. The beginners’ class will take place on Thursday nights from May 26 through June 30 from 6 to 7 p.m. The intermediate class will take place on Wednesday nights from May 25 through June 29, also from 6 to 7 p.m.

Gonzalez may be contacted at 910-879-5539 or at for more information or to register.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

By Chrysta Carroll

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