St. Louis shag

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St. Louis shag is a swing dance that evolved from Charleston.[1] As its name suggests, it is recognized as being started in St. Louis, Missouri. It is a very fast closed position dance that is usually done to stomp, jump, and boogie-woogie music.

St. Louis Shag is a territory swing dance which originated in St. Louis, Missouri in the 1930s.[2] in St. Louis this form of shag is distinct from Collegiate Shag and Carolina Shag in that it is not a dance unto itself, and like Lindy Charleston steps of the 1930s & 40s done as a [3] within the Swing / Lindy Hop Dance. Most likely descending from the Charleston, St. Louis Shag features a stationary 8-count basic that is most commonly composed of triple-step, kick, triple-step, kick. Another basic, popularized by Kenny Wetzel, an East St. Louis native who relocated to Southern California in the 1950s, is composed of triple-step, kick, step-stomp, run-run. Eddie Plunkett & Dottie Spokesfield, life-time St. Louis dancers, had yet another version of the basic composed of triple-step, kick, double kick. St. Louis Shag also features many rhythmic variations that include inside crosses (also known as over the tops), fall off the logs, and customizable stomps, kicks, taps, and holds. St. Louis Shag is often done to up-tempo swing, rock’n’roll, and blues music. Typically, dancers transition freely between shag and jitterbug steps.

The Shag has a long-standing history in St. Louis, where it has remained throughout many generations: originally to swing music, then to rock'n'roll, jazz, jump blues, and even to R&B, which probably changed the feel and look of Shag over time, yet preserved many of the dance's trademarks. Due to Kenny Wetzel’s impact, St. Louis Shag was also popular in Southern California between the 1950s and 1990s. The earliest pioneers of St. Louis Shag include 1930s and 40s-era dancers Tommy Russo, Dolores Shy, Virginia Shy, Mike Renda, Joe and Eva Renda, Eddie Plunkett, Dottie Spokesfield, and Jim & Lorraine Byrnes. Innovative dancers continued to come up in the 1950s, 60s and beyond amongst the likes of Kenny Wetzel, John Bedrosian, Valerie LaFemina, Bob Brooks, and Sylvia Sykes to name a few. Thanks to these dancers the St. Louis Shag has been passed down and continues to be practiced around the world today.

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Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "St. Louis Shag". StreetSwing.com. Retrieved 2008-09-28. 
  2. ^ Most likely originating in the Black community - Tommy Russo said he learned the dance from the "colored kids on the play ground." and that they did it best. He also implied it had been around for a while "they (Blacks) were doing it way before us." so it's quite possible it was even being done in the black community in the mid-late 20's. All the other original Swing Dancers interviewed also said it originated in the Black community and had been being done for a while.
  3. ^ "Break Step" - from interviews with Eddie Plunkett, Tommy Russo, Jim & Lorraine Byrnes conducted by Dan Conner

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