Charleston Shag Company
1038 Jenkins Road
Charleston, SC 29407

Studio: 843-406-7593
Mobile: 843-270-2565

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MEET BARBARA & JERRY

Young Jerry and BarbaraJerry & Barbara Wade are natives of Charleston, SC. They met as students at Bishop England High School in the late '50's and learned to Shag listening to incredible bands that played at the old Folly Beach pier.

They married in 1964 and are the parents of three children and five grandchildren - all living in Charleston. Jerry earned his degree in education and Barbara and their daughters are co-owners of the Charleston Dance Center, a dance studio in Charleston.

JB Pivots - CharlestonJean Steele, the co-founder of J.B. Pivots Beach Club, encouraged Jerry & Barbara to consider teaching a basic class at the club in 1992. Although hesitant to begin, they quickly realized that they enjoyed teaching shag and had a real knack for breaking down the steps! They have been Shag Instructors at J.B. Pivots and other venues ever since.

SHAG MEMORIES

ShaggingTheir initial encounters with the shag go as far back as the early fifties. Barbara’s first memories of the shag were on Mitchell Playground in the city. The older kids played records and danced in the clubhouse. She watched and picked up on the basic step. Jerry grew up on the other side of the tracks in the “North Area” (as it was known then) and first remembers watching his friend’s big sister and her boyfriend dance the shag in her living room. Both Barbara and Jerry were intrigued by the music, the motion, and the fun. They just had to learn it; and will always have fond memories of dancing at school dances through much of the 50’s. As teenagers, like a lot of others in Charleston, they “grew up” with the shag.

All throughout high school, the regular dance hangouts were the pavilions at the “Island” (Isle Of Palms), the “Pier” (Folly Beach), and the Sand’s Club on Highway 17. The music they really liked to dance to then was mostly pure R & B. Songs from artists like Jimmy Reed, Hank Ballard & The Midnighters, and Lloyd Price were among their favorites. At the Pier, the band most enjoyed was Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs. Locally there were some great bands like the Rivieras with Jimmy Hendricks and Billy Kelly as well as “Piano Calvin” and the Royal Entertainers.

Folly PierIt seemed like the summers back in the late fifties and early sixties were endless. Many a day was spent at the Island (Isle of Palms) or Folly either sipping suds, listening to the jukebox, catchin’ some rays, or for the guys; playing half-rubber. At night everyone would be hanging with the same crowd and could be found shagging at the Pier or at one of the island pavilions. Sometimes people might even convoy back and forth between Folly and Island just to see what was happening. Hey, gas was only 30 cents a gallon, remember?

One of their fondest memories of the shag was the rescue of Barbara one evening from an awful situation. Can you imagine the early sixties, a beautiful summer night, the Sea Side pavilion on the Island, a super crowd, lots of cold beer, great shag music, and your date can’t dance? So, being a Southern gentleman, (who also had been trying to get a date with her); could Jerry let this Southern belle lose out on the entire evening just because her date was from New Jersey? No way! Who would know that rescue dance would prove to be with the love of his life!

A date came from the dance and they have been together ever since. Married since 1964 they have three children and five grandchildren. They took an ‘excused leave of absence’ from the shag for many years while raising their children. Their children were all very active growing up and Jerry and Barbara did their share of coaching baseball and basketball and organizing cheerleading squads at the James Island YMCA. Looking back, they wouldn’t trade one second of it for anything.

During the seventies the shag sort of took a back seat to disco. Many of the old shag haunts had closed. The Pier, as many knew it, burnt down and the radio stations were playing disco and funky stuff. So the shag scene really changed and the dance went into a bit of limbo for a while. But for those who grew up with this dance, at every opportunity, whether it was a wedding, class reunion, etc. they never missed a chance to shag. This routine went on well into the eighties.

Jerry and Barbara WadeAs the kids grew up “and got out on their own”, Jerry and Barbara got out too and in 1989 headed for J.B. Pivots Beach Club for a couple of nights of Shag each week. At that time Pivot’s was the only club in Charleston playing Shag music. They soon discovered that during the time of their “excused Leave of absence” a lot had been going on with the dance. During the early eighties a Shag resurgence had emerged. Along with this resurgence, shag contests were being held at beach clubs in both South and North Carolina and new individual moves and steps were developed. New styles resulted and together or mirror steps seemed to be the “in” thing. There were now instructors giving formal shag lessons. So they decided to take some lessons and learn this new shag stuff. When they did they were immediately intrigued with the new innovations. This increased their participation at Pivot’s to three or more nights of Shagging every week. While out dancing they met some great people from the Charleston and Islanders shag clubs and soon became members of both clubs.

During the time of learning the “new” shag, they got to know John and Joan English who had been competing on the contest circuit. They’ll always be grateful to John and Joan for the time they took to share the shag with them.

It wasn’t long after learning some of this new shag stuff that they were asked to teach a basic class at J.B. Pivot’s by their good friend “Mean” Jean Steele, one of the founders of J.B. Pivot’s. They were elated for the opportunity to “Share the Shag.” Since that time they’ve taught basic, intermediate and advanced shag classes at various locations.

Check out Shag Classes for more information.