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Learn South Carolina’s state dance from Shag pros Jeff and Dede Ward: Basic Step

Teaching the Shag gives professional dancers Jeff and Dede Ward the opportunity to keep South Carolina’s state dance alive by passing it along to newcomers and new generations of South Carolinians.

“We teach every age group from teenagers to empty nesters,” Dede says. “It’s not a difficult dance to learn and even our beginners learn enough to be confident and have fun.”

With their four-week sessions at the Simpsonville Community Building on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak, we asked Jeff and Dede to take their lessons on air and online for our Your Carolina and Livin’ Upstate audiences.

For the next four weeks, beginning today, Jeff and Dede will teach The Shag for Beginners. You can catch the lessons each Thursday on Your Carolina with Jack and Megan, then we’ll post the segments here at Livin’ Upstate so you can continue to view the video as you learn and practice at home.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • April 9 – Basic Step
  • April 16 – Female Turn
  • April 23 – Male Turn
  • April 30 – Shag Start

Once social distancing is done and we can get back to socializing, you should be able to hold your own at Shagging on Augusta, Main Street Fridays and countless other festivals and events across the Upstate.

A dance for all ages, Jeff describes the Shag as one akin to West Coast Swing. Dede characterizes it as a slower Jitterbug, but both are quick to call it a “waist down” dance.

South Carolina designated the Shag as the official state dance in 1984. The dance combines nimble footwork with upbeat rhythm and blues, also known in these parts as beach music.

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