VIENNA - Despite the snow and cold on Saturday, the Mid-Ohio Valley Shaggers Club's 11th annual "Pinin' for the Summer" dance was not canceled.
Rick Fisher, president of the club, said organizers were expecting about 30 members to come out to the party at the Parkersburg Country Club, along with members of a local ballroom dancing club.
Fisher said there are 44 members of the club that meet every Thursday night at American Legion Post 15 in Parkersburg's traffic circle on Ohio Avenue.
Photo by Jeffrey Saulton
Keith and Christine Burkett work on a new Carolina shag dance step.
"It's a big association," he said of the shag dance club. "There are also big clubs in Charleston, Beckley, Bluefield - they are all over the place."
Tim Miller, of Parkersburg and founder of the local club, said it started 10 year ago.
"We did this because it is a popular dance in the Carolinas and we spend a lot of time down there," he said. "We started going to the different clubs and started picking up on the dance."
Miller said after returning home they missed the dancing.
"There was no dancing here, so we decided to form a dance club," he said.
Miller said the popularity of the shag has not diminished over the years.
Shag dancing is derived from other dances like the swing, the jitterbug and the Lindy hop, although it is slower and more toned down than those more energetic dances.
The dance also has its own style of music associated with it, usually called beach music, shag music and other styles that are popular in the Carolinas. Many popular songs also make good shag-dancing music, as long as they have a certain type of beat.
"It's still very popular," Miller said. "It is the official state dance of North Carolina and South Carolina."
Jan Hutchins, of Parkersburg, said the recent Society of Stranders (SOS) at North Myrtle Beach, S.C., said thousands of people from across the country and from outside the United States were there. She said the SOS has two to three dances a year.
Miller said the shag is an attraction at most clubs along Ocean Drive in North Myrtle Beach.
Keith and Christine Burkett, of Parkersburg, said they got interested in shagging for the fun of it.
"It's fun for one thing," he said. "It's a great hobby and it's a great all around dance and the music is great too."
"We get to go to the beach," she said. "It's the only way I can get him to the beach."
Leading up to Saturday night's dance at the country club, the event also included an afternoon dance clinic with lessons on some of the shag dance steps taught by Kevin and Dee Twohig, of Nitro, W.Va.
"We teach in a lot of places," he said. "I got started with a guy I worked with for starters. There was also Sherry Moore from Charleston and her boyfriend at the time who live in North Carolina, they started teaching a class and we started taking lessons in 1997."
Shortly after that he said they stated teaching but in recent years they have scaled back their teaching.
"We go to a lot of the dances," she said. "We go to the beach for the SOS events. It's like a 10-day spring break for adults."
At the events she said it is possible to meet people from all over the East Coast, some from as far west as San Diego and from out of the country.
"Shagging has turned into a world-wide phenomenon," he said.