Thursday, September 22, 2005


Learning How to Shag

The Shag, Austin Power movie references aside, is a dance with a long history in the Carolinas. It's a six-step that is danced to 4/4 music, and yes that means it doesn't come out even, but somehow it seems to work out all right. Another peculiarity of the Shag is that the man's left hand and the woman's right are the only things that touch, usually. At two-month, once-a-week shag class you will learn three basic female turns and three turns for the man. You will graduate to the belly roll and the sugar foot and the eight-step pivot. Yes they throw in one eight-step move in a dance full of six-step moves, all played to 4/4 music. It still works out.

My wife and I are novice dancers, our first flailing attempts dating to our wedding preparations and an ordered video. We learned a box-step and a waltz and were able to perform a simalacrum of a wedding dance. Even now, with courses in cha cha, rumba, waltz and shag behind us, our feet get tangled and there are occasional sudden squabbles like summer squalls over who's leading and what comes next.

But the shag is the first dance that really took. It's so laid back and forgiving, you can add as many moves or forget as many as you want. The leads are simple and clear, if I can come up with one to offer before we finish whatever the last move was, and there's spinning, twirling, closed and open positions, and all with the slightest little alterations. Suddenly two people with their own separate paces in life find a meeting ground in a third pace that belongs to neither one separately but only both together. Like those twin stars whose orbits, whatever they were originally, have now come to depend on each other.

The Richard Gere dance movie was hoaky, and he's a loon anyway, if a harmless one. The Vanessa Williams dance movie was charming if implausible. There's an Australian one where the male lead seems to wince each time he's required to hold a woman in his arms. And you'll never dance the way they do in any of those movies.

But let me say that making a little room for dance will do its part in working some of the cogs out of the marital wheel (after creating a few new ones, initially). Working so closely together on something that's intended to be beautiful, with the risk of getting tangled up at any moment, and the promise of making something that is admirable and that improves over time, well -

Isn't that what the two of you have been doing anyway?


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?