Local shag club presents annual Winter Classic

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Whether or not they were born in South Carolina, where the shag is the official state dance, for those who enjoy the dance, it can become a way of life.

It's no surprise, then, that organizers expect up to 350 attendees from throughout the region at the upcoming Winter Classic, presented by the Hilton Head Island Carolina Shag Club (HHICSC). The big event of the season will be held Jan. 18-21 at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa.

What better place for a weekend of beach music and shag dancing than at the beach? The dance began on the beaches of Myrtle Beach in the 1930s and has grown in popularity ever since.

The weekend will include three nights of beach music and shag dancing, along with meals and other activities. "The HHICSC was founded in 1994 and our first Winter Classic was hosted in January 1995," said Michael Salera, first vice president of the group. It is typical, he said, for local shag clubs to host regular dance opportunities for their membership, and to hold one large shag event each year as a regional draw for other clubs, both in-state and beyond.

The theme this year is "Starry, Starry Shaggin'."

The activities will include - you guessed it! - plenty of shag dancing, as well as lessons, individual coaching, mentoring and workshops. "We have a professional husband and wife team teaching an advanced shag workshop on Saturday," said Bill Anderson, a member of the club. The teaching couple aren't just dancers; Sam West is a 14-time Grand National Champion and Shag Hall of Fame dancer.

One highlight for the weekend, said Kate Sawyer, Winter Classic chairperson, is "music provided by Shag Hall of Fame DJ's John Smith and Billy Waldrep."

Shag experience is not required, and singles are welcome.

The event is open to dancers of all levels, from beginners to expert, and to those who enjoy other dances such as swing, Lindy Hop and ballroom.

Organizers hope the special event will attract locals who have thought about joining, as well as those who might not know about the club.

Cost is $95 per person. Register at www.hiltonheadshagclub.com/2018-island-winter-classic.

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