The Times West Virginian

Features

July 7, 2006

Put on your Shaggin’ shoes

New club for Carolina dance forms in Clarksburg

CLARKSBURG — In the spacious Elks Ballroom at the Village Square Conference Center, a group of mostly middle-aged men and women form two lines on the dance floor.

An instructor tells the group of 23 students that what they are going to learn revolves around six basic steps. These steps are the foundation for hundreds of routines in Shag dancing.

The group tonight will experience a piece of Myrtle Beach, S.C., in the mountains with some rhythm and blues music and laid back dancing. The club Shaggin’ with CLASS (Clarksburg Local Area Shag Society) officially began accepting members about a month ago, and it’s open to anyone.

Club President Cyndy Ritch starts the dance off on Friday, June 30, with sprinkling salt on the floor to make it smoother for the dance moves. The couples begin to pair up and eventually all rotate partners so even those without partners get to dance with someone.

Ritch says having an available partner is rare and you generally wouldn’t find that at a bar.

“Women can ask men to dance, and the men don’t turn them down,” she said. “That’s just the Shag thing. The man just accepts the dance. ... (Also) Men usually go around and ask women to dance.”

Ritch and Pattee Perkins, vice president, met at a Shag club in Parkersburg, when they decided to start one closer to home.

Perkins learned about Shag dancing like most people do — at Myrtle Beach where the dance originated.

“You see the dance at Myrtle Beach, and you go, ‘Oh, it’s beautiful. I want to do it.’ And for a lot of people, it’s all they ever do, but they don’t go out of their way to find a place to do it. But that’s what we did. We just went out of our way to find a place to do it. And we made a place for other people,” Perkins said.

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