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Save the Last Dance for Me: A Love Story of the Shag and the Society of Stranders
     

Save the Last Dance for Me: A Love Story of the Shag and the Society of Stranders

by Phil Sawyer, Tom Poland
 

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The shag, the official state dance of North and South Carolina, originated in the 1930s. The dance quickly spread throughout the South, where it became a legend in many beach regions. Save the Last Dance for Me is the story of the shag and the development of the Society of Stranders, an organization devoted to the dance and its culture.
In Save the Last Dance

Overview


The shag, the official state dance of North and South Carolina, originated in the 1930s. The dance quickly spread throughout the South, where it became a legend in many beach regions. Save the Last Dance for Me is the story of the shag and the development of the Society of Stranders, an organization devoted to the dance and its culture.
In Save the Last Dance for Me, Phil Sawyer and Tom Poland retell the story of the legendary dance and its iconic presence at Ocean Drive, Myrtle Beach, and other South Carolina beaches. While contributing memories of shagging on Ocean Drive, Sawyer and Poland also discuss the actual dance steps that make up the shag. With the retelling of the shag story comes the unique story of the Society of Stranders. Formed in 1980 after a Red Sea Balsam bottle containing an SOS note washed ashore as a practical joke, what resulted was increased national publicity and five thousand "stranders" flocking to Ocean Drive Beach to show their support for the shag culture. The Society of Stranders, or SOS, and the Association of Carolina Shag Clubs together now consist of more than fifteen thousand members. The shag's past, present, and future are described here with archival and contemporary photographs.
The shag has become an important part of coastal culture for thousands, particularly in North Myrtle Beach, a community that has embraced the legacy of this dance. Save the Last Dance for Me tells the story of cultural change, including the separation and integration of races, and chronicles how rhythm and blues, Motown, and beach music evolved to create a social phenomenon that is still popular today.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Sawyer is the president emeritus of the Society of Stranders, an organization dedicated to the shag and the culture from which it sprang, along with freelancer writer and novelist Poland (Forbidden Island: An Island Called Sapelo). Originating on the beaches of North and South Carolina ("the strands") in the 1930s, the shag has remained popular ever since, although interest in it declined during the Swinging Sixties and the Disco Seventies. Lewis Grizzard described dancing it as "like doing the jitterbug on Valium," and a quick look at a few YouTube videos will illustrate its incredibly smooth and absolutely cool moves. The history of popular music and social change in the South are part of the story of this dance done to what is sometimes called "beach music"; the appendix contains playlists of popular shag songs past and present. The shag is so pervasive in the cultural history of the South that it was declared the official state dance of South Carolina in 1984 and the official state popular dance of North Carolina in 2005. VERDICT Anyone interested in dance or Southern culture will groove to the beat of this heartfelt narrative.—Carolyn M. Mulac, Chicago P.L.
From the Publisher

“The S.O.S. was a product of serendipity, good luck, and shoot-from-the-hip planning. Intended to be a one-time reunion for a few hundred former Ocean Drive Beach teenage diehards of the 40s and 50s, the beach party is still going on after some thirty-two years of revelry. It has been attended by many tens of thousands! Tom Poland and Phil Sawyer have captured in Save the Last Dance for Me some of the joie de vivre, fun and hijinks that went into making the South's largest adult party such a roaring success!”

--Gene Laughter, S.O.S. Godfather

“Dr. Phil Sawyer is one of a kind, and in the small genre of Carolina shag history books, Save the Last Dance for Me is also one of a kind. You are about to learn that, decades ago, a radical merger of cultures and customs created a social dance more graceful and beautiful than the sum of its partners. By the time you finish, you will know that, without Phil Sawyer‘s love for the dance and his loyalty to it, the Society of Stranders would have drifted into oblivion. The 15,000 SOS dancers, young and old, who continue to migrate to the beach three times every year owe Phil big time.”

--Richard S. Durlach, dance instructor, University of South Carolina Department of Theatre and Dance

“A must read for all who have, at one time or another, been touched by the shag and the music that made it possible. Save the Last Dance for Me presents an excellent history of our dance, the shag, emphasizing how it started, the people, the places, the music, the good times and the bad, and the growth and preservation. If you love the shag, you will love this book.”

--Charlie Womble and Jackie McGee, nine-time National Shag Champions

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781611170887
Publisher:
University of South Carolina Press
Publication date:
08/30/2012
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
1,398,032
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author


Phil Sawyer earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina. A native of Salley, South Carolina, Sawyer is a U.S. Army veteran and retired university professor. An integral part of the shag movement, Sawyer serves as president emeritus of the Society of Stranders and was honored with its Lifetime Achievement award in 2011.

Tom Poland is a native of Georgia and a University of Georgia graduate. He has published six books, three of which were collaborations with Robert C. Clark and published by the University of South Carolina Press, including Reflections of South Carolina.

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