St. Patrick’s Day made for a perfect evening for The Ark to celebrate 17 years with a Shaggin’ For Shelter fundraiser. In addition to the dance competition, attendees were able to purchase a corned beef and cabbage dinner as they enjoyed traditional music on the bagpipes.
Overall winners Robin and Dottie Wilson received a free two-night stay at Hampton Inn as well as two tickets to Biltmore which alone are worth at least $100. Brian and Brenda Gillam were runners up with Darrel Gaither and Ashley Laver being recognized for their novice participation.
The Shag is unique to the Carolinas in creation, though its popularity has expanded beyond the Carolina borders. Started by those who had enjoyed the Jitterbug and the Lindy Hop in their heyday, the Shag was developed to be a slower version, according to Brian Gillam, who teaches Shag lessons every Tuesday night at the Yadkin Valley Senior Center in Jonesville.
Although the Shag looks deceptively like a West Coast Swing, the direction is different. Whereas the Swing is a right-left motion, the Shag is forward and back like the Cha Cha. “The ladies dance on the diving board and the fellows move around them,” described Gillam, which requires less room on the dance floor.
There are more opportunities for dancers to Shag locally than expected. In addition to the Tuesday evening classes at the senior center in Jonesville, which are open to all ages, there are also Shag clubs. The Brushy Mountain Shag Club sponsors various classes, dances and events and can be reached at facebook.com/BrushyMountainShagClub. Other clubs and Shag dance events can be found through shagdance.com.
Shaggers were not the only dancers on the floor Friday. Ballroom dancers Roger and Cindy Caudle traveled from Hayes to enjoy the evening dancing. “We started rough as rough can be,” joked Roger, who began to take lessons with his wife when they retired from teaching. “It’s a good activity you can continue to learn.”
It’s also a good activity to help earn money for a good cause. Judge Mitzi Davis enjoyed Friday so much she is already looking forward to next year. “I think that everyone that danced had a good time,” claimed Davis. “It was amazing.”
Jason Swaim of Winston-Salem agreed, “I had a lot of fun. I hope they do it again.”
With continued support from sponsors like The Liberty, Shaggin’ For Shelter may become a regular destination for Elkin residents on St. Patrick’s Day. To encourage The Ark to hold Shaggin’ For Shelter again next year, find out more about its services, or to make a donation to this homeless shelter go to email [email protected], visit website thearkelkin.org or call 336-527-1637.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.