Collegiate shag

What dance is it?

The jolly and dynamic Shag, one of the classic social partner dances of the early 20th century, has been unrightfully forgotten for a long time. Today its popularity is rising again throughout the world. The swift beat and powerful energy of this dance won’t leave you indifferent!

Swing dance researches still debate on what Shag actually is, since in different places this name was often used for different dances with a few common features: fast beat, dynamic footwork and closed position. In his book ‘Let’s Dance’ published in 1937, Arthur Murray also mentioned that Shag was danced everywhere throughout the U.S. under different names like Flea Hop. What we call Collegiate Shag today can mostly be referred to Double Shag which gained the attachment ‘Collegiate’ because of being popular among students.

The dance allegedly emerged in New Orleans, most likely based on Foxtrot. It was danced to ragtime and fast jazz. At the peak of its success, Shag was performed not only in New York, the Mecca of all swing dancers, but also on Virginia Beach. Because of that, Shag was also dubbed the ‘beach’ or ‘sand’ dance.

After enjoying staggering popularity, Shag sunk into oblivion for many years until it was brought back by a group of South Californian enthusiasts during the Swing Revival. Nowadays Shag is making a loud return around the world. Master classes and competitions are held regularly in different countries and couples dancing Shag can be increasingly seen at parties and open airs.