I worked a 13 1/2 hour day last week. At the end of the day I was with some very tired co-horts, the radio was still jamming in the establishment. We all looked lifeless, spent. Then, the first chords of AC/DC ~You shook me all night long~ belted out. As tired as everyone was, head's started bobbing, booty's swayed and table tops turned into drums. I have a few years on these kiddo's so I was the one chair thumping. I can Pop Drop and Lock with the best of them, albeit my version is the literal dsecription of what would happen if I tried to perform it. Music, the miracle cure, salve on weary souls, grown up lullaby's. Dance, the expression of my insides. Years ago I realized that you can no more dance and be unhappy at the same moment than you can blow Hubba Bubba bubbles while frowning.
Dancing was one of the first indicators that I was getting better after surgery. I shagged by myself to Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl with the frig door. My feet weren't always Happy Feet, there was a time when the music died. I swayed and waxed philosophical on friends couches during the 70's to 8 -tracks of the Eagles, Pink Floyd. Danced my butt off in the 80's and early nineties. The club nights and house party's became fewer and farther between in the third millenium. Slowly, the inside music died and Stella lost her groove. I tried to dance a few times around the house during my decade dry spell. It was the most pathetic non-rythmic display my mirror had ever witnessed.
Then one day, I was in a retail store browsing through the racks. A song came on the piped music. ~Under the Boardwalk, by the Drifters. My shoulders started first and the short waves traversed down to the dead dancing nerves in my feet. Soon my happy feet were shuffling unseen beneath the clothes racks. I was shagging. When I got home, I threw my packages down and you tubed some beach music. I was cutting the rug to some old shag tunes and it felt sooooo good. Over the next couple of month's Stella got her goove back.
Now, it might not be pretty. But, if the music's in me, it's going to come out. A recent visit to my daughters had a room crying laughing as grandma held her own with grandaughter on ~Hey Ya~ by Outcast on the Wii Dance. I smile thinking of my Ya Ya's one Carolina summer eve on the back porch. My sister got up and started dancing by herself to the music on the IPOD, minutes later the other Ya Ya joined her, her husband looking inquisitively on from inside and shaking his head.
Dancing should come as natural as swatting mosquitoes here in Charleston. The south has spurned out a few classics. Developed by Kathryn Wilson, the Charleston became a popular dance craze in the wider international community during the 1920s. Despite its origins, the Charleston is most frequently associated with flappers and speakeasies. Speakeasies were back alley bars that ran during the American Prohibition.Here, these young women would dance alone or together as a way of mocking the "drys," or citizens who supported the Prohibition amendment, as the Charleston was then considered quite immoral and provocative.
Jump up 20 years and flocks of kids are converging on the beach boardwalks of the Carolina's to do the Shag dance. The Shag was designated as the official State Dance by Act Number 329 of 1984.
It's much more fun if you dance like no one is watching and praying that they weren't. I feel I may have startled a landscaper or two while throwing down near my patio window a few times. But, it's ok. Drive it like you stole it baby!
The photograph is of House Representative T.S. McMillan of Charleston watching on as flappers dance the Charleston with the Capitol building in background. Credit: Library of Congress LC-US762-93721