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From: Gene Blair
Date: 12 May 2001
Remote Name: 188.8.131.52
Shag Lounge Hall of Fame Foundation
Gene "Tootie" Blair ~ Reamonia Matthews
It is only natural that a Hall of Fame would be established to pay tribute to and honor the shag lounge owners that have had the courage and commitment to shagging to take a risk and open their hearts and lounges, and to chronicle and preserve the heritage of the shag culture, as well as to record and preserve the shag lounges of the past and present. These beach clubs provide a place for each of us to dance, for instructors to teach and promote the growth of shagging, and to form new friendships as well as renew old ones. It is sad to see a lounge close because it is a part of the history of shagging and the fun and good times that can only be recorded in the memories of the individuals who were there. Thus, the Shag Lounge Hall of Fame Foundation's commitment to preserve, record, and honor the lounges of the past and present so that all shaggers are reminded of the places we enjoy so very much; they are and should be more than just a faded memory.
A contest was established to allow ACSC Association members and other shaggers to elect the top shag lounges of their choice. Beach clubs, shag clubs, along with shaggers at large, cast their votes for the lounge they felt should be an inductee. The ballots' and vote totals, history, and photographs were sent to the Shag Lounge Hall of Fame Foundation. The 1999 contest is closed, the votes are in, and out of the many beach clubs that participated, the six winning inductees to the Shag Lounge Hall of Fame are (in alphabetical order)
Boppers Bar & Boogie, Charlotte, NC
Ducks & Duck Too , Ocean Drive, SC
Fat Harold's Beach Club, Ocean Drive, SC
Jolly Knave, Atlantic Beach, NC
Thirsty's Beach Club, Greensboro, NC
Weejuns Beach Club, Irmo, SC.
Since some places were considered the mecca for the origins and development of shag dance, honorary lounge or beach club inductees are the:
Myrtle Beach Pavilion - Ocean Drive, SC
Atlantic Beach Pavilion - Atlantic Beach, NC
The Pad, Ocean Drive, SC.
OD Pavilion - Ocean Drive, SC
Brief histories of the six winning Shag Lounge Hall of Fame inductees follow:
Bopper's Bar and Boogie
Bopper's Bar and Boogie is located at the corner of Albemarle Road and sharon Amity Road in Charlotte, North Carolina and was established in 1985. The principle owner is Leroy Denton, an original owner along with several other individuals.
Bopper's colorful interior boasts a black and red theme with a black and white checkerboard tile dance floor. One of its main interior highlights is a full-blown 1957 Chevrolet, which more than enhances its interior decor along with booths on one level, tables and chairs on the main level, a standing bar, and a rectangular bar with stools. Its nostalgic theme continues with the walls decorated thoughout with pictures of famous movie and rock-n-roll stars. The deejay booth, decked out as a large lighted jukebox, is a focal point for dancers and is located at one end of the room. For special events, a temporary deck can be erected outside.
Bopper's caters not only to shaggers, but swing and top forty dancers as well. Shagging nights are Sunday and Tuesday with Sunday being the most popular, and averages a crowd of 150 to 200 people. On Tuesday nights from 6 to 7:30 PM, Bopper's opens their facilities to the junior shaggers. Free shag lessons are provided by Pat and Jerry Stegall so that junior shaggers can learn and practice the shag. Before Bopper's provided this opportunity, facilities for juniors were difficult to find. Tuesday night is also an excellent night for all shaggers to practice. Deejays are provided by Bopper's on shag nights as well as other nights. Wednesday nights are promoted for swing dancing and free dance lessons are available with Thursday night dedicated to karaoke. Friday and Saturday nights cater to the top forty and draw a capacity crowd with the majority being younger individuals.
Jimmy and Laura Milligan are Bopper’s shag instructors. They have been teaching shag at Bopper’s for over nine years. They conduct the basic, intermediate, and advanced shag classes for a small fee. Their classes run for five sessions and are taught on Sunday nights between 6:00 and 8:00 PM. Everyone is cordially invited to participate.
Dance contests are held periodically throughout the year. These contests include SPCA as well as other contests that are open to anyone that wishes to dance. Occasionally Bopper’s sponsors a dance contest each week for 4 or 5 weeks with each week’s winners advancing to a dance-off. In March the club sponsors a junior shag contest that draws the top junior shaggers to participate. It also sponsors two Battle of the DJ's contests during the year. This traditionally is two of the more popular nights. In addition, once or twice a year Bopper’s will hire a live shag band to entertain its clientele.
Bopper’s Bar and Boogie is the home of the Boppers’ Shag Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. The shag club hosts two parties each year. In summer the club celebrates their annual birthday bash and a blow-out Christmas blast in December. These events are held at different locations, and other shag clubs and guests are cordially invited and encouraged to attend. The club also holds one or two golf tournaments each year with the majority of the proceeds donated to the Shrine Club for burned and crippled children.
Ducks Beach Club
Ocean Drive, SC
Norfleet Jones, owner and proprietor, purchased Ducks Beach Club in December 1988 .
Norfleet is an icon in the shag world: past president of the SPA for 9 years, inducted into the Shagger's Hall Of Fame in 1991, Legends in 1993, Virginia Beach National Living Legends Hall Of Fame in 1995, and Atlantic Beach Shaggers Hall Of Fame in 1999. Ducks is Norfleet, and his influence has certainly made this club one that reflects the joining of all shaggers, old-time and contemporary.
Along with Ducks' commitment to junior shaggers and their development, Norfleet's influence in the junior shag program reads like a list of Who's Who in the shag community. A large number of adult competitive shaggers at one time or another either worked at Ducks or has been influenced in the understanding of the dance by Norfleet. From the first dance contest in 1974 at Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, along with Shad Alberty and Doug Perry, Norfleet Jones has carried the flag for the shag world in its promotion and development.
Each year Ducks Beach Club holds SPA contests, Thanksgiving mixed doubles, and is renown for being the gathering spot for dancers from every area of the shag world when in Myrtle Beach. Shag Instructor and Hall of Famer, Judy Duke, offers shag lessons weekly.
Fat Harold's Beach Club
Ocean Drive, SC
What would Ocean Drive and shagging be without Fat Harold's Beach Club, Harold Bessent and Sherrill Meredith. It began with the Spanish Galleon, next came Fat Harold's Across The Street, then Fat Harold's At the Pad, and finally Fat Harold's New Beach Club. What a legacy!
Fat Harold's Beach Club feeds the locals on Wednesday nights during the winter months, is open six nights a week for dancing, offers free shag lessons on Tuesday nights with Rick Segers and Jennifer Wattenbarger, various entertainment, supports every event at the beach, and has donated untold amounts of money for charities, especially Camp Kemo. The club has sponsored shag contests since the revival of shag and hosts two SPA contests per year. It is the home, hangout and haven of the Ocean Drive Shag Club, provides a place for shag lessons on Tuesday nights, supports the Junior Shaggers Association, hosts the DJ Hall Of Fame weekend, supports the Shaggers Hall of Fame Association, and sponsors various other organizations too numerous to count. Hat's off and thanks go to this celebrated landmark called Fat Harold's Beach Club.
Plato said a sign of a learned man is one who can laugh at himself. Walking to the front door of Fat Harold's Beach Club, you immediately know you are going to have fun, from his gracious smile on the beach club sign and the old Wurlitzer juke box surrounding the front doors, you feel like every night at Fat Harold's is heralded by a shagging good time.
Thus, many a shagger and non-shagger alike has left Fat Harold's with a big smile on their face at closing time. From the days of the Spanish Galleon until present day, Fat Harold's Beach Club sets the stage as an honored and well-deserved member of the Shag Lounge Hall of Fame.
The Jolly Knave
Atlantic Beach, NC
The Jolly Knave, located on the oceanfront at Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, was built in 1971. The original owners were Vinton Fountain from Tarboro, North Carolina and Fred Fletcher from Raleigh, North Carolina. It was opened as an English pub-type lounge complete with knights, suits of armor, and named The Jolly Knave (derived from an English term meaning scoundrel), but was referred to by many as just The Knave. This was back when patrons could brown bag before liquor-by-the-drink was passed in Carteret County.
Its original layout consisted of a large dance floor on the first floor with a smaller lounge on the second floor, no windows, and wooden benches. The oceanfront deck positioned directly on the ocean provided the only air conditioning (i.e., the sea breeze). Man ... was that place hot! Starched shirts didn’t stay stiff too long.
Atlantic Beach has always been a hot bed of shagging. Many shag historians will argue, until they are blue in the face, that the shag dance originated in eastern North Carolina with old-time fancy shufflers at Atlantic Beach, White Lake and Carolina Beach. As a record of fact, the first dance contests ever held were at the Knave in 1974 with Danny Bean and Linda Cook taking the winners’ spotlight. The shag contests at the Knave were open to the public with crowds coming from Raleigh, Greenville, Wilson, Washington, Rocky Mount, NC, as well as many other locations throughout the South. Dance contests were held at the Knave for the next ten (10) years ending with its last in 1984. Other dance contest winners were Kate and Bobby Griffin-1975, Barbara Kannan and Bobby Ainsworth-1976, Brenda and Mike Pace-1977, Frances and Norman Tripp-1978, Debbie Bradshaw and Jeppy McDowell-1979, Debbie Driver and Percy Thornton-1980, finishing off with Jackie McGee and Charlie Womble winning the last three dance contests in 1982, ‘83, and ‘84.
The Knave was purchased and operated by Bill Harper in 1978. Bill was originally from Rocky Mount, North Carolina but spent all his summers in Atlantic Beach at his grandparent’s cottage.
The Knave was a summer club until the early 80’s when it became a year-round club due to the expansion of Atlantic Beach proper. In 1978 the jukebox, free, overplayed and nearly always broken, was removed and live deejays used in its place. In 1985 the Knave dropped its dance club downstairs to add retail and later a restaurant, and remodeled the upstairs to a shag atmosphere by adding a small dance floor. Beach music could always be heard, either with recorded music or an occasional deejay, but it was no longer a dance club.
In November 1996, The Jolly Knave changed its first floor back into a dance club, moved the restaurant to the second floor, and kicked its new renovation off with a reunion, The Jolly Knave 25th Anniversary Party, celebrating 25 years of shagging at the beach. The weekend was packed full of events: 12 shag and beach deejays from Thursday through Monday, two pig pickins’, and free shag workshops led by Judy Duke, pro dancer and Hall of Famer. Over 600 people attended this successful event. Its low ceiling dance floor downstairs and upstairs with a deck overlooking the ocean rivaled the nostalgic old Pad; thus the Jolly Knave stayed until it was sold in 1997 to an out-of-state individual who turned it into a full-time restaurant.
The Jolly Knave has been a corporate sponsor of the Association of Shag Clubs and the Association of Beach and Shag Club DJ’s utilizing many of the deejays throughout the year for various weekends and events. Many events were held at the Knave by the Chamber of Commerce-City of Atlantic Beach, political parties, shag club events, and Carteret County sportsfishing meetings. Eleven (11) dance contests were hosted at the Knave with the majority being SPA sponsored.
Charity events, junior events and dance lessons weren’t as prevalent in the 70’s and 80’s as they are now but some of the charities that were sponsored by the Knave are the Chamber of Commerce, Christmas Cheer Family, Salvation Army, Thrift shops, Sandbar Cleanup, Police and Fire Department, and shag events at other clubs.
Being the home of the first dance contest, the majority of the finer dancers such as Doug Perry, Norfleet Jones, Shad Alberty, Bill Chesire, Barbara Kannan, Alan Shelor, Duane Wells, and Ronnie Coker, just to mention a few, have laid down a few steps at the Jolly Knave while growing up. In February 1999, a local shag club in Atlantic Beach hosted the first induction of the Atlantic Beach Shaggers Hall of Fame for the last 50 years. Of the fifty names inducted at this prestigious event, forty-five or more of them probably danced at the Knave. Point of fact, The Knave is a Hall of Fame Club where the Hall of Famers danced at one time or another.
On Sunday, November 2, 1997, the Jolly Knave closed its doors to give way to progress. It may be no more, but the memories the Knave leaves shall last a lifetime.
Thirsty's Beach Club
Thurston and Linda Reeder owned and ran Thirsty's Beach Club from September 1992 until it closed on February 31, 1999. It was one of the few beach clubs that stayed open seven days a week for shagging and was the home for the Greater Triad Shag Club. Shag lessons were taught on Tuesday nights by Vicky Chambers, and Wednesday nights Susie Beaver taught her magic.
Thirsty's Beach Club paid homage to many of the pioneers in the shagging world from Greensboro and the surrounding areas. The Bunk Leach mixed doubles were held twice a year along with two SPA contests. The club held many charitable events, sponsored various associations, and hosted numerous events to raise money for those in need. Thirsty's was a landmark for Shaggers from Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The annual Bushes Reunion was held each year honoring "The Bushes" Beach Club which was the main stay for North Carolina shaggers during the 80's.
Thurston is a walking legend of knowledge regarding shag history and the people who helped develop the dance itself. He was raised with such greats as Harry Driver, Bunk Leach, Shad Alberty, Cadillac Jack, Buzz Sawyer, and many other famous shaggers in and around Greensboro, North Carolina.
It has been said that no two male shaggers from the Greensboro area dance the same style, and as evidence will have it, they truly developed a unique form of the shag. Hat's off to Linda and Thurston. Thirsty's Beach Club will be sorely missed by many of the old timers as well as the contemporary shaggers.
Weejun's Beach Club
Weejun's Beach Club opened in May 1991. It is a private beach club owned and operated by David Adams and Roddy McCarson and is located in Harbison Center on Harbison Boulevard in Irmo, South Carolina. The club opens at 4:00 PM each day.
Very soon after its opening, Weejun's became the hot "Shag" spot in the area. Although Weejun's is the only club in the Columbia, South Carolina area that maintains shagging seven nights a week, it is the favorite watering hole for the neighborhood as well. Every Tuesday night since its opening, the club offers free shag lessons to their members taught by instructors, Butch and Teresa Alsing.
Over the years Weejun's has helped raise thousands of dollars for the Shag Hall of Fame Foundation, Camp Kemo, the Junior Shaggers Association, and many other charitable organizations. It is a sanctioned club for the SPA/CSA dancers, hosting two contests a year since 1992, and is a corporate sponsor of the Association of Beach and Shag Club DJ's utilizing many of the associations' deejays thoughout the year.
Weejun's co-hosted with the Palmetto Shag Club at their first Southern Comfort Weekend event featuring The Fantastic Shakers by holding pre-registration on Thursday night and Saturday in the back of Weejun's. The club also hosted a July 4th event with the Columbia Shag Club.
Weejun's is the home of the Palmetto Shag Club, the Columbia Shag Club, and the Central South Carolina Shag Wall of Fame. The club allows both shag clubs to hold meetings and special events whenever needed as well as participate in all planned events.
Although Weejun's is a private club, members from out-of-town shag clubs are cordially welcomed without a cover charge unless the club is holding a special event.
Any shagger who has ever experienced a freshly starched oxford cloth shirt, khaki slacks, weejuns and no socks, sand on the dance floor, the Tams on the jukebox and ice cold beer appreciates a great place to dance. Thus, we pay homage to those beach and shag lounges, past and present, that allows us to continue "shaggin' through history".
The Shag Lounge Hall of Fame Foundation gives thanks to the following members of the Shag Lounge Hall of Fame Committee for their time, participation, hard work and support:
Murl Augustine, C.S.R.A., N. Augusta, SC;
John Crowley, Southern New England Shag Club, Brookline, MA;
Laverne Horton, First Coast Shag Club, Jacksonville, FL;
Mike Porter, ShagAtlanta, Norcross, GA;
Jim Reed, Beckley Area Shag Club, Beckley, WVA;
Sandra Roakes, Salisbury Shag Club, Salisbury, NC;
Ronnie Spry, The Islander Shag Club, Folly Beach, SC;
Elaine Wilson, Carolina Shag Club, Greenville, SC.
The Foundation's future plans include an ongoing annual contest to nominate and induct shag lounges of your choice into the Shag Lounge Hall of Fame and the development of a web site honoring the Shag Lounge Hall of Fame inductees.