The roots of the shag are grounded in a cross-pollination of black soul music and club dancers in Myrtle Beach, SC with fun-loving carefree 40s white teenagers. The radio stations of the 40s did not broadcast black music so the kids had to flock to the beaches to play the music on jukeboxes.
Having been grounded in the 40s, the shag became THE dance of the 50s.
There is, however, evidence those roots were possibly established well before the 40s. Even as far back as colonial times lies evidence of slaves dancing aboard slave ships for exercise. Not to be outdone, the white sailors began to show off their own moves. This resulted in yet another cross-blending that eventually led to the Lindy Hop, a type of swing dance. Onward into the early twentieth century evidences the jitterbug associated with various types of swing dances, including the Lindy.
A bit of evolution...
"The Lindy Hop was performed by young kids in the twenties, jitterbug in the thirties, swing in the forties, and rock and roll/bebop/Carolina shag in the fifties. In the sixties, young kids broke away and danced animal caricature dances; in the seventies they danced the hustle.” Each of these dances is characterized by a unique set of moves that are suited to the music of the period. “The music of the seventies lent itself to the development of the hustle just as the music of the twenties lent itself to the development of the Lindy Hop."So what makes the Shag the Shag? It's all in the moves...slowing down the original tempo of the jitterbug and incorporating sexier, looser movement.
Compare to the Jitterbug!
Are you ready? Dance your heart away!
And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...