A Shag of their own

Published 9:50 am Saturday, April 30, 2011

Members of the Franklin Shag Club dance to the “Electric Slide.” -- Dale Liesch | Tidewater News

FRANKLIN—It may have started in the Carolinas, but Franklin has made the shag all its own.

On the first Wednesday of every month, members of the Franklin Shag Club kick up their heels to celebrate the Southern dance that took off with Baby Boomers.

“People up North describe it as the jitterbug on valium,” said local disc jockey Johnny Hall.

The music is a regional genre referred to as Carolina beach music, Hall said. The genre has its roots in rhythm and blues and keeps a steady tempo from 102 beats per minute to 122 beats per minute.

“If you get much faster than that, people are doing the bop or swing dancing,” Hall said.

Coleman Holland, a member of the the Shaggers Hall of Fame, and his wife, Sherran, dance together during a Franklin Shag Club meeting. -- Dale Liesch | Tidewater News

The craze started around Wilmington, N.C., but its home now is North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

“I specialize in this type of music,” Hall said. “It’s not the only music I play, but I enjoy playing it.”

While he might be an expert with the musical genre most closely associated with the shag, Coleman and Sherran Holland are experts at the dance. The couple spent eight weeks teaching it to eager club members in Franklin.

“We started the Richmond Shag Club in 1995, took some lessons and have been doing it ever since,” Coleman Holland said.

Coleman Holland is a member of the Shaggers Hall of Fame in Virginia Beach.

Franklin’s club has 125 members, most of whom are Baby Boomers, according to club President Amelia Spivey.

Spivey said the dance has been around since the 1940s, and clubs in Myrtle Beach are still hotbeds for it now.

The club meets on the top floor of Fred’s restaurant on the first Wednesday of each month from 7 to 10:30 p.m. and Fridays from 8 p.m. to midnight.

Club dues are $25 a year; non-members can dance for $5.