Meet The Club
2022 Office Members
Vice President: Tom Hicks
Chair: Brenda Hicks
A Brief History of the Beckley Area Shag Club
I was never a dancer. In high school at dances, I would stand around and try to look cool. I envied the guys that could dance because they WERE cool. But later in life, I could manage to shuffle around the dance floor to a slow song or two.
Fast forward to the late 1980s, my wife (at the time) and I owned a condo in Surf-side Beach, SC. We would go to a night club in Myrtle beach called Studebaker's. The music was mostly 50s rock and roll, which I grew up on. We would sit, listen, and watch other people doing the jitterbug. One night the DJ said there was a couple who requested some "beach music" so they could "shag dance." I had heard both terms before. Well, about 20 seconds into that first song, I was hooked. I made my mind up that I was going to learn all I could about beach music and shag. I didn't know how; I just was going to do it!
When I got back to WV, I started doing some research and found out there was a shag club in Roanoke, VA. I got in touch with that clubs president, Theresa Hobek. I am sure I talked her ear off on several phone conversations. That is how I found about the ACSC and SOS. Theresa invited my wife and me to dance lessons in Blacksburg VA. We drove 2 hours every week to take those lessons. I met a wonderful group of people. Those lessons, Charlie Womble, and Jackie McGee's very first video tape got me to a point where I could get around the dance floor without falling. The more I learned, the more obsessed I became. The first SOS I attended was the Fall Migration. The old PAD was still there. We watched more than we danced. The shag dance hook was already deep set.
Back home, my wife was taking line dance lessons with some girlfriends at Billy Joe's. When the DJ would take a break, I would ask him to play a beach music cassette that I carried around. We would shag for 5 or 10 minutes. Her girlfriends became interested and wanted to learn. So, during the line dance breaks, we would do a quick shag dance lesson. Every Friday night, we would go to Billy Joe's and the DJ would play some beach music. One night, Pam Coffman, the owner said that another couple was in the last Saturday might and they were shag dancing. I found out it was Freddie and Becky Legg from oak hill. That Saturday might we were very impressed. It was about that time I had the idea that Beckley, WV needed a Shag Dance Club. If Roanoke could have one; so could we! I brought it up to the girls at the net line dance class.They were excited about the adventure. I obtained all of the information on what we needed to do to start a club in Beckley. That is exactly how Beckley area shag club was started. There were 9 founding members which included myself, Nancy, Pam Coffman, Ann Hampton, Carol Buckland, Row Stump, Juanita Ritter, Kelly Coleman, and a girl named Freda. Our membership consisted of me and 8 women. We began to teach shag dance lessons at Billy Joes. Juanita Ritter worked for Jim Hern at that time. Jim would come to watch dance lessons. After several tries, we finally got him on the dance floor. I have always said if you know your left foot from your right and you can count to 8, you could learn to shag. Jim almost miss proved that saying. But, look at him now, a top pro shagger.
Roanoke Valley Shag Club was our sponsor club. We had to a party and they were to send representatives to make sure we were actually a shag club. We had the party at Three Gables. I think at the time, we had about 30 members and almost everyone came. I thought maybe 2 or 3 couples from Roanoke would come. There were 34 people from Roanoke at our first party. We...were...thrilled! Roanoke gave our club high marks and at the next ACSC meeting, the Beckley area shag club was voted into the association.
Our clubs membership fluctuates year to year. Some people find that it is just not for them, some people find other interests, some move away. But, for an area as small as ours, we have done well. Our hanger parties were legendary and are still talked about in the shag world. The hangar is gone, but never forgotten. What a run we had! One think I am most proud of is that we were instrumental in helping to start 4 other shag clubs in WV. Those include Charleston, Parkersburg, Clarksburg, and Bluefield. I am proud I was a small part in bringing so much joy to the lives of so many through shag dancing.
So keep dancing.
- Charlie Cline