R&B SHAG CLUB OF SPARTANBURG CELEBRATES ITS 30TH ANNIVERSARY:
A BRIEF HISTORY
By Phyllis Drake
Shortly after the first SOS Fall Migration to Ocean Drive in September 1980, a group of Spartanburg people who were very interested in beach music gathered at Arthur's Lounge in Hillcrest Mall. Those present were Bob Lutz, Jimey High, Kevin Blanks, Harry Turner, Nick Kekas, Jimmy and Judy Robertson, and David Parks. From their discussion in the spring of 1981 grew the R&B Hall of Fame idea. The original idea was to create a place to preserve, promote, and honor the R&B beach music sound, the shag, and the artists who contributed to our heritage. An attorney drew up the charter, the group donated a few dollars to open a bank account, and the first official meeting and dance was held at Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium. Bob Lutz was elected the first president, and shagging was revived in Spartanburg. Thus was born the R&B Beach Music Hall of Fame, Inc., the original and still official name of our R&B Shag Club of Spartanburg.
Attempts to obtain a location and financial support for a Hall of Fame failed to work out. In the early 80s, to raise funds and to showcase shag music artists, the Club hosted concerts at Duncan Park, Clayton's Lake, and the National Guard Armory. We brought in the Swinging Medallions, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, Bill Pinkney and the Drifters, the Diamonds, the Coasters, the Tams, Clyde McPhatter, the Flamingos, Grand Strand, the Poor Souls, Bradford & Bell, Debbie Dobbins, Billy Scott and the Georgia Prophets, Hank Ballard, the Tymes, and the Clovers.
Since 1992, we have successfully hosted regional, one- to three-day Shag Workshops. In July 2006, we celebrated our 25th anniversary with a Sparkle City Celebration by hosting a two-day event at the elegant Marriott at Renaissance Park and invited all 100 ACSC shag clubs to attend. Shaggers from 24 shag clubs from 12 states attended this very successful event and the party just gets better each year. We have again reserved the Marriott for July 22-24, 2011, to host this Celebration party for about 400 shaggers to commemorate our 30th anniversary, and we look forward to friends from far and near coming to party with our friendly folks.
Through the years, members shagged at Scandals, White's Mill, Floyd's Cabin, the Police Club, and any other place we could rent. In 1985 the club found a home at The Spartanburg Arts Center where we held a once-a-month party for many years. The Arts Center Building was sold, and we moved to the VFW Club for four years. We have now found a new home at the Spartanburg Shrine Club that has an excellent parquet dance floor. During 2006, we added a “First Saturday Shag Night” at the Marriott at Renaissance Park, Thursday Shag Nights at the Cellar, and Sunday Shag Nights at Wild Wing Café.
We are fortunate to have many area DJs who share their collections for our parties. Most are members of our club and of the Association of Beach and Shag Club DJs, and their names are recognizable on the ACSC circuit. David Graham, Dick Hamrick, Terry Hopper, Skip Lancaster, Jack Moore, David O'Quinn, Pat Patterson, Mike Swords, Billy Waldrep, and John Wilson frequently play for our parties.
In the past, twenty-seven of our excellent dancers, several of whom are at the Pro level of SPA shag competitions, have taught shag classes. Kathy and Steve Day currently teach in three locations around Spartanburg and facilitate workshops for many, many shag, bop, and swing weekend parties up and down the East Coast. They are responsible for converting many boppers and swingers to our shag lifestyle.
Our club has given back to the community by supporting the Red Cross in its Beach Music Day at Duncan Park, by donating money and by hosting fund raisers for Mobile Meals and St. Luke's Free Medical Clinic, by providing entertainment at many retirement centers, by working with school programs to teach shag on their South Carolina History Days, by assisting the Healing Arts Committee with its fund raiser, by donating to and participating in fund raisers for the Arts Council of Spartanburg, the Children's Security Blanket, and by showcasing our legendary state dance at the Piedmont Interstate Fair.
Although the club operates under the name R&B Shag Club of Spartanburg and the Hall of Fame plans have been laid aside, the club has not strayed from its original purpose to preserve, promote, and honor the R&B beach music sound, the shag, and the artists who developed the music.
The bottom line is - we have fun! To quote our past president Tom Armstrong, “Life's short; let's shag!”