State Dance: Clogging and Shagging

Written By Jessica Lee Thompson

While several states have an official dance, North Carolina is among the few with two official state dances. In 2005, the General Assembly passed a bill making clogging the official folk dance of North Carolina and shagging as the official popular dance of North Carolina. Both dances were chosen for the entertainment value that they bring to “participants and spectators in the State.”

Clogging, derived from the Gaelic word meaning “time,” developed during the colonial period in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The dance draws upon European, African-American and Native American folk dance traditions. Clogging was also selected because its “distinct, dignified and beautiful footwork” can be performed in groups, by couples, or alone. In the 1920s the dance’s popularity increased and became a permanent fixture in Appalachian heritage when Bascar Lumar Lunsford, host of the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville, added a team clogging competition to the Festival. Today, North Carolina is home to numerous clogging companies and clogging festivals including the Carolina Clogging Company and the Hickory Hoedown Clogging Festival.

According to the General Assembly, shagging “evolved from the jitterbug and jump blues of the big band era” and is considered a form of swing dancing. Some believe that the Shag originated in Carolina Beach during the 1940s, where the term “beach music” was also coined. North Carolina is home to multiple national shag champions, members of the Shaggers Hall of Fame as well as the Queen of Shag, Clarice Reavis of Fayetteville, and the Father of Shag, Harry Driver of Dunn. North Carolina has more beach music clubs than any other state in the Nation.