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A Birthday Shag

andra watkins, andra watkins author

I admit it. As humiliating as it is to confess, especially to a big ole audience like this one, I’ll just put it out there. Today, I’m forty-three years old. Middle-aged. A little saggier and baggier today than I was yesterday. So, I ought to be able to own just about anything without fear, right?

This one is tougher, though. I’m supposed to know how to do it by now. I’ve had gaggles of boyfriends in my life. Heck, I said ‘I Do’ to two men, NOT at the same time.

Umtpeen opportunities to perfect my technique. Countless attempts to go all the way. At times, practically begging these boys to make me a real woman instead of a groping, clueless girl.

I don’t know how to shag.

It’s the state dance of South Carolina, a whirling, twirling, foot-shuffling vision on the pulsing dance floor. It requires two people, and one of them really needs to know how to lead. Which takes me to my next problem.

I don’t follow well.

So, for most of my life, I haveΒ implored various unlucky men to take me and make me a shagger, only to step on their toes, heat-butt them, try to twirl them instead of the other way around, and generally scare them to freaking death. MTM won’t even shag with me.

Is a forty-three year old woman too old to learn to shag? Because, I’d really love to swirl around the dancing space to Stagger Lee, my very favorite shagging song of all time.

Do you have a favorite shag song, Dear Reader? The dance or THE DANCE, doesn’t matter to me which one you mean.


130 Comments Post a comment
  1. Good morning Andra and Happy Birthday. I can’t shag either but go on up to Myrtle Beach and take some lessons if you’re so inclined.

    March 24, 2012
    • I have considered lessons a million times, Howard, and immediately pitied my poor instructor’s feet……

      March 24, 2012
  2. OK, so I grant you that it was probably a typo, but, the vision of a shagging “heat-butt” is oh so, what’s the word? Oh yeah ….EEEEWWWWWWWW!!!!

    Now here’s a great shag song followed by an instructional vid for the poor Queen A.

    March 24, 2012
    • Too much Kool-Aid at the party last night. I am surprised I didn’t fill this post with typos. I did the twist and almost threw my back out, so we stuck to slow dances after that.

      March 24, 2012
    • That dance is sooo cool! Now let me get this straight. Are you from SC or the UK? Must be SC since you’re Loretta’s fifth. I hope you get her endorsement. I think she’d be honored. But, Andra, you’re funny, talented, and I bet you don’t need a pubisher or LL’s endorsement. You’ve got great marketing skills, hon. I’ve been browsing hrough your blog for the past 20 minutes–and it’s rare for me to browse more than 5. About that doll. You should take the pins out and dress it up as a lawyer with a brief case. That would be truly frightening.

      June 5, 2013
    • what a wonderful time I’ve had reading the comments and watching the videos.. Bravo…

      August 9, 2013
  3. You had to go and do it, didn’t you?
    I’ve had tears streaming down my cheeks reading this post, and I’ve only just realigned my breathing. And the heat butt didn’t help. It’s revenge, isn’t it, for my censorship post?
    Happy Birthday, Andra, by the way! πŸ˜€
    43 isn’t middle-aged you know. It wasn’t in my case anyway! Nowhere near! πŸ˜‰

    March 24, 2012
    • I am so glad this post had the desired effect for my English readers, Tom. When we hosted a Rotary team from England a couple of years ago, we told them we were going to take them for shagging lessons. I wish I had photos of the looks on their faces…….

      March 24, 2012
  4. until i moved here, shag was a completely different thing to me

    March 24, 2012
    • Do they call it shagging in Canada, too? You know? It?

      March 24, 2012
      • Yup, we do, Andra. As a result, I was reading, anticipating the juicy bits, and even wondering what you were talking about …

        April 28, 2013
    • For me too, Eugene. Imagine my surprise on discovering a building on Center St. with the sign out front: The Island Shag Club…

      March 24, 2012
  5. Happy Birthday. I don’t remember why, but turning forty was the birthday that was the most difficult for me. After forty–no problem. Love Stagger Lee too. Take care.

    March 24, 2012
    • Thanks for the birthday wishes. I always welcome my birthday. It beats the alternative……

      March 24, 2012
      • The alternative? Birthnight?

        Happy VERY belated birthday! Like more than a year!

        So happy belated birthday for the NEXT one too! And birthnight.


        — xPraetorius

        April 30, 2013
  6. pmogle #

    Happy Birthday lady! Wishing you all the best for a super day and beyond. XO

    March 24, 2012
  7. Alison Dailey #

    Happy Happy Birthday!

    March 24, 2012
    • Thanks for going out with us the other night. I have missed you.

      March 24, 2012
  8. Happy Birthday! I’ve decided that we are going to make 43 an awesome year (as I hit that number earlier this month). I knew we had a lot in common. This post made me smile. I spent one summer while I was in college in North Myrtle Beach. While there, an older woman took me under her wing and took me out to learn how to shag. I wasn’t very good, but she She is one of those women who I lost track of as soon as the summer was over, but she really had an impact on my life. I think I might have to write about her.

    Have a wonderful day. Go out and shag. Who cares if you are good? Have fun!

    ❀ Lisa

    March 24, 2012
    • Isn’t it great to get inspiration? I hope to read about her soon, Lisa.

      Wow that you spent time in North Myrtle Beach. I was just there a couple of weekends ago. It has changed so much since I started going there at 5.

      March 24, 2012
  9. Happy Birthday!

    March 24, 2012
  10. Andra, HAPPY BIRTHDAY from all of us here: from Al, and Felix and Maddie and Phil and I. We are so pleased to have come across your writing this year: meeting you was fab. Thank you for your exuberant take on life, for the toilet lizard, for taking the trouble to come and visit a small-time scribbler every day. May the next year be your most exciting and fulfilling yet: and may your family be healthy and happy throughout.

    (A naughty aside: you know England well, and you will know the alternative meaning of shag here. Your title, combined with that most engaging of pictures, entertained us mightily. No: one is never too old to learn to shag, and it can be immensely, overwhelmingly rewarding.)

    March 24, 2012
    • Thank you Kate. You are not small time, and you are very gifted. My readers sure do love you, and they are a distinguished bunch.

      See my reply to Tom above about the shagging. πŸ™‚ We are bad, bad people over here. πŸ™‚

      March 24, 2012
  11. Happy Birthday. Party On!

    March 24, 2012
  12. Denise #

    I like how these guys shag! Happy Birthday, hope you enjoy your day and the April 1st fun!!!

    March 24, 2012
  13. Emily Duke #

    Watch the seinfeld episode with the Elaine dance and u will know that i understand completely…..Elaine is meeeeeeee haha.

    March 24, 2012
    • I know the one you mean, Emily. Lord help everybody if you and I ever grace the dance floor together.

      March 24, 2012
  14. That picture of you is almost as funny as your gargoyle impression. And I loved the coy lead-in. I confess. Scott doesn’t dance at all. He’s like Kermit.

    And he doesn’t like music when we capital D Dance.

    March 24, 2012
    • MTM has to be plied with a little adult beverage, but it can be done. We once danced so much at a wedding that someone told us to get a room, and I tore my dress.

      March 24, 2012
      • By the way! I forgot the ‘happy birthday’ part!! I meant to. But the brain is smallll.

        March 25, 2012
      • Stop. It is not small. And thanks for the birthday wish.

        March 25, 2012
  15. Jill Clary Stevenson #

    Without a doubt, this is my all time favorite shag tune! Have a wonderful birthday, Andra. You’re still a spring chicken!

    March 24, 2012
  16. mtm #

    We make our own music when we Shag!

    March 24, 2012
  17. I can’t shag either . . . Gene and I used to dance every chance we could get (we met at a dance), but we were aficionados of a different era (and he never lived in “the South” :)). Watching a couple of the videos here though, I’m sorry we never had the opportunity to try; it looks remarkably similar to some of our old “routines.” I’m with the group that says to go take lessons someplace. You’re never too old to learn a new dance step, and dancin’ will help ward off those “baggy, saggy thingys.” Happy Birthday! πŸ™‚

    PS. Did you know that this is also National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day?

    March 24, 2012
    • I did NOT know that, Karen, but I did have raisins this morning. πŸ™‚

      I wish I could’ve seen you and Gene together.

      March 24, 2012
      • And I was lamenting as I wrote here this morning; all those fun hours we spent on various dance floors, and I don’t know of a single photo that exists as evidence of it. Don’t ever stop taking all those wonderful photos that you do……they’ll help someday when memories get fuzzy ’round the edges.

        March 24, 2012
  18. James Moffitt #

    Happy Birthday dear Andra. I hope you have a beautiful day. I do not know how to shag either. I spent a lot of time dancing to disco music but those days are long gone.

    March 24, 2012
  19. Debbie #

    I always love this shag song! Happy Birthday Andra!

    March 24, 2012
  20. Happy birthday!

    I say find a ruthless leader of a dance instructor and Shag all you like. I’ve got a serious case of The Two Left Feet, so I’ll be envious of you when you learn.

    March 24, 2012
    • I am terrified of trying again. My every attempt has been a disaster. Thanks for the birthday wishes.

      March 24, 2012
  21. Happy Birthday πŸ˜€

    43- I remember that. It’s not middle aged. I have 47 coming up, and I’m pretty sure that’s not middle aged either

    Deluded in Ireland

    March 24, 2012
    • Fiona, we can both be happily deluded together. πŸ™‚

      March 24, 2012
  22. Wow, so educational, Andra.

    I have not heard of the dance shag. I might have heard of the verb “to shag.” But that’s a whole different thing.

    Splendid post. Hope your birthday is fabulous, and that you and MTM have a wonderful April 1st event!

    March 24, 2012
    • It is a South Carolina thing, associated with beach music. The Embers. The Drifters. Etc. Might be funny to introduce to your friends in California.

      March 24, 2012
  23. Happy Birthday dear lady! Knowing you has enriched my life, and made me a better person!

    I learned to shag in the “front room” of my aunt’s house in Summerville SC. My cousin’s tied a sock to the door handle and made me practice the steps while holding onto the sock. I love to shag! And my favorite shag songs are the oldies.

    Come to think of it all my fave shaggin songs are all about doin’ IT! Especially 60 minute man!

    The Showmen’s 39-21-40 Shape
    Billy Ward and the Dominos Sixty Minute Man
    Double Shot of My Baby’s Love by the Swinging Medallions

    March 24, 2012
    • I love Ms. Grace, too. You mentioned that one earlier.

      And, you enrich my life, too. I am so glad you are my friend. xo

      March 24, 2012
      • Good grief, Different version that Debbie posted above.

        March 24, 2012
      • I could never sit out Miss Grace. I would dance by myself or with another girl just to have the chance to move to it’s wonderful swinging rhythm.

        March 25, 2012
  24. I love to shag…Henry and I took lessons several years ago. In my dancing mind, I’m much smoother and shag-savvy than I actually am. My favorite song is 60 Minute Man.

    March 24, 2012
    • I wish you’d share your dancing mind with me, Kristi. Then, I might not care how stupid I look trying to shag. πŸ™‚

      March 24, 2012
  25. Happy Birthday, Andra! I pseudo shag to Boz Scaggs. Or Steely Dan:

    March 24, 2012
    • Well, Nancy. As a USC law grad, at least you know what shagging is, and I didn’t shock you to death today. Both great shagging artists, too. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the birthday wishes.

      March 24, 2012
    • I am now in love with nrhatch… Best Band in the Land. Boz is pretty damn good too…

      March 24, 2012
  26. Shagging has completely different connotations in our part of town – still good though, but very different πŸ˜‰ Happy birthday Andra – may it be a very auspicious year!

    March 24, 2012
    • Linda, I have always found the multiple definitions of the word ‘shag’ very amusing. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the messages on Twitter today and for the wishes here. I’m so glad I ‘met’ you during my last year, and look forward to getting to know you better in the coming one.

      March 24, 2012
  27. Hooray, the comments are working ;D I read your blog to my folks tonight after supper – we laughed, a lot! Brilliant piece

    March 24, 2012
    • I am so glad it is having the desired impact around the globe. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      March 24, 2012
  28. Great post! I wish you a very happy birthday! And by the way, you look like you’re in your thirties. πŸ™‚

    March 24, 2012
  29. I am a good Southern boy, so yes I do. Of course. And the favorite song? Has to be “Save the Last Dance for Me” by the Drifters. The greatest beach music producers of all time.

    Nancy’s parents were actually championship shaggers in their day. They used to enter competitions up at the Pavilion in Myrtle Beach.

    March 24, 2012
    • I wish the Pavilion were still there. The last time I was in Myrtle Beach, we drove past the blank swath of land where it used to be, and I almost cried.

      March 25, 2012
  30. Dear Andra… I would love to Shag with you! But since you are my daughter’s age and you don’t know me yet, we’d better stick with the Dancing.

    Now, anyone who likes STAGGER LEE is okay in my book. That is not only one of my favorites, but quite old and has a lot of history. I was shagging to Lloyd Price in Junior High, although we didn’t know to call it that. It would be some time before the other ‘shagging’ occurred. My all time shagging song, for dancing and from that period also, is AT THE HOP by Danny and the Juniors… turn it on and dance around your room…. see what you think.

    I’m sure you can do it!

    I have to admit, your photo at the top sucked me in.. Ancient Monument indeed… I’m keen to explore your blog, as your titles are inviting…

    March 24, 2012
  31. Happy birthday Andra! Another bucket list item, I think.

    March 24, 2012
  32. Happy, happy birthday, Andra. You have many wonderful years ahead of you, so enjoy each one! It is a delight to celebrate with you, even from such a distance. I must admit that I have never even heard of the Shag…which disappoints me. I don’t really like to admit I don’t know OFsomething! I took Arthur Murray ballroom dancing lessons for about a year not all that long ago…just because I wanted to learn. Find a way to learn the Shag and enjoy! You have many dancing years ahead of you. Birthday blessings, Debra

    March 24, 2012
    • I wonder if they teach shagging around the country. Lots of places in South Carolina to get lessons. I wonder if the Arthur Murray folks would know the shag. Here’s a link to a dancing scene from the movie Shag. I put a link in the post, but I’m not sure how many people followed it to see what shagging looks like.

      March 25, 2012
      • I don’t know Andra, but that dance could lead to all sorts of ruin for a good southern girl! But it sure does look like fun πŸ˜‰ I am sure you could find lessons somewhere…but MTM might be concerned about the character and intentions of the teacher! Think carefully before committing! D

        March 25, 2012
      • When looking at the video clip from the movie “Shag” I saw this demonstration of the basic step.

        Reminds me of that doorknob that I practiced with all those years ago.

        March 25, 2012
      • Helps if I paste the video link

        March 25, 2012
  33. OK, here is a wonderful overview of the whole thing; Myrtle Beach and the Shag.

    March 25, 2012
    • Thanks for posting all of these great resources, Cheryl.

      March 25, 2012
  34. a. m. f. #

    boo! Happy Belated birthday, Andra! Don’t know what to say about the shagging business, sounds like a personal problem…ha! (this is coming from someone who is unable to ever SLOW dance with a partner)

    March 26, 2012
  35. Happy Birthday! My favorite shag song in college was “Buttercup” That song always brings a smile to my face.

    March 26, 2012
  36. I do not have a favourite shag song.
    I just love the fact you use the word ‘shag’!


    April 9, 2013
    • It is a funny difference in English. πŸ™‚

      April 9, 2013
    • I was a bit shocked to see Andra use that word myself, bobbyf. But knowing her, and her tremendous fashion sense… I could see a ‘shag’ on a ‘shag’. Oh Wait… she was talking about dancing… would be hard to do on a carpet I would think.

      April 9, 2013
  37. baaltanit #

    I’d not heard of this dance. Interesting post. I once said in London that my friend was “bent” (local slang for crazy in my neighborhood). The room fell silent. It meant something different in London.

    April 9, 2013
    • Isn’t it funny how English can be so different?

      April 9, 2013
    • So what does it mean in London???

      April 9, 2013
      • baaltanit #

        Gay. In the working class pub I was in, that idea didn’t go over well.

        April 11, 2013
      • Haha.

        April 11, 2013
  38. Thank you for dropping by and liking my post! I think your blog is cute! Chin up! πŸ™‚

    April 11, 2013
  39. Hey. Hope you had a good day. This post actually made me laugh because here in London, shag means to have sex. Lol. x

    April 11, 2013
    • I once offered to take an English friend for shag lessons. You can imagine the look on his face…..

      April 11, 2013
      • cokefour #

        If you’d offered me that I might have choked on my coffee too. I love the internet, you learn a new thing everyday.

        May 1, 2013
  40. Thanks for the like and the follow πŸ™‚
    You have good content, looking forward to some further reading πŸ™‚

    April 13, 2013
  41. This really made me laugh. Thanks for liking my post.

    April 13, 2013
  42. Brave, honest, funny writing! Really enjoyed it πŸ™‚ follow me too if you like it!

    April 17, 2013
  43. I’ll turn 40 in December. I thought I knew how to shag.

    I must rethink everything now.

    April 18, 2013
  44. Very funny, especially that part about trying to keep the lower skirt portion of your dress down while keeping your bicycle on course and enduring the stares of passersby.

    Really hilarious!


    April 19, 2013
  45. Good morning Andra and Happy Birthday

    April 21, 2013
  46. Hilarious! We fake shag in NC. πŸ™‚

    April 23, 2013
  47. A rather misleading title, for us who are not versed in American cultural lingo. A shag, as I understand it(people with British origins) is a good romp in the sack: sex. You still had me going at the beginning, wishing for a real man to make a woman out of you. Quite amusing. I’ve learnt something new today. Thanks for stopping by as well. Cheers.

    April 24, 2013
  48. Hilarious! Never ever heard of the dance so this was QUITE a read, til I realised! Brilliant!

    April 28, 2013
  49. I can soooo relate to this. I’ve never been a good dancer (and let’s clarify that we are talking about something on the dance floor with clothes on). It doesn’t matter whether it’s Disco, the Texas four-step (which should explain how bad a dancer I really am), or the Robot, which makes me look like a mime with special needs. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Neither is turning 43. And not just becaause I’ll be 47 in August… That said, Happy Birthday. I hope you had a good shagging. (And we are no longer talking about the dance floor). Cheers!

    April 28, 2013
    • Haha, Ned. Shagging is perfection, isn’t it? πŸ™‚

      April 28, 2013
      • Even when it isn’t, I could think of worse things πŸ™‚

        April 28, 2013
  50. I’ll be turning 50 This Year!!!

    May 1, 2013
  51. H

    May 1, 2013
  52. Happy Birthday Andra I meant to say that last post but I had an iPhone moment

    May 1, 2013
  53. Happy Birthday. Love your blog. I live in SC but I’m a NY/NJ girl. When I first visited here four years ago. After an almost 12-hour drive, my friends wanted to take me to the local watering hole on the lake (a place I love now). As I sat at the bar resting my brain and sipping a vodka, this older guy at the bar strikes up a conversation (people are friendly here and I love it) – after five minutes he looked at me and say “Hey, you wanna shag?” Up until then my only experience with the word had to do with 70’s carpet and a term used in Austin Powers movies. Luckily I mentioned this to my girlfriend before I went with my initial impulse to slap his face. He just wanted to dance. LOL – oh and I’ve yet to learn the Shag … but it looks fun.

    May 18, 2013
  54. That motif was very well maintained. Haha. I must confess. The ..ahh climax…was not what I expected. But no less satisfying.

    May 23, 2013
  55. I learned to shag dance as a boy in Carolina.

    It is the only dance I know how to do. I did try doing the macarena a few times, but kept poking myself in the eye.

    May 25, 2013
  56. Leo #

    Happy Birthday, and thank you for reading my post. I must be getting old as I only know two meanings of shag, one is a tobacco and the other is sexual. πŸ™‚ I suppose it depends on which country you are in at the time.What`s called a bum bag in one country is a fanny pack in another, there is no such thing as an international language.:-) πŸ™‚

    May 29, 2013
  57. This must be the version Lloyd Price recorded for radio airplay:

    July 6, 2013
  58. I am so glad you had the kaleidoscope of choices flowing on your blog, so I got to see you being quite silly, making a big joke about shagging and now, know why I love you! My oldest daughter is an Aries, March baby (3/29/80) Fun to check this out!

    July 26, 2013
  59. Hello, Cheerio #

    I’m not going to lie, when I first began reading this entry, I thought you were talking about shagging, shagging, not shagging as in dancing. Ha. Needless to say, I enjoy the way you write and I find you to be very interesting; I’ve decided to follow your blog and I look forward to reading more about you and your life adventures, both big and small. Cheers!

    October 30, 2013
    • Most people of English descent believe I am talking about something I am not. πŸ™‚

      November 4, 2013
  60. I used to run shag bar up in NMB,heck I was in the movie. But I can t Shag either. I can appreciate a good one though…

    November 10, 2013

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