St. Louis Shag

is a swing dance that evolved from the Charleston. As its name suggests, it is recognized as being started in St. Louis, Missouri.

It is a very fast closed position dance and danced in faster tempo music at tempos of about 210 to 280 beats per minute. St. Louis Shag can also be danced to really fast music far over 300 beats per minute that is usually done to stomp, jump and boogie-woogie music.

St. Louis Shag is a territory swing dance which originated in St. Louis, Missouri in the 1930s. In St. Louis this form of shag is distinct from Collegiate Shag and Carolina Shag in that it is not a dance unto itself, and like Lindy Charleston steps of the 1930s & 40s done within the Swing / Lindy Hop Dance.

Most likely descending from the Charleston, St. Louis Shag features a stationary 8-count basic that is most commonly composed of triple-step, kick, triple-step, kick. Another basic, popularized by Kenny Wetzel, an East St. Louis native who relocated to Southern California in the 1950s, is composed of triple-step, kick, step-stomp, run-run.

Eddie Plunkett & Dottie Spokesfield, life-time St. Louis dancers, had yet another version of the basic, composed of triple-step, kick, double kick. St. Louis Shag also features many rhythmic variations that include inside crosses (also known as over the tops), fall off the logs, and customizable stomps, kicks, taps, and holds. St. Louis Shag is often done to up-tempo swing, rock’n’roll and blues music. Typically, dancers transition freely between shag and jitterbug steps.

The Shag has a long-standing history in St. Louis, where it has remained throughout many generations: originally to swing music, then to rock’n’roll, jazz, jump blues and even to R&B, which probably changed the feel and look of Shag over time, yet preserved many of the dance’s trademarks.

Due to Kenny Wetzel’s impact, St. Louis Shag was also popular in Southern California between the 1950s and 1990s. The earliest pioneers of St. Louis Shag include many 1930s and 40s-era dancers.

Innovative dancers continued to come up in the 1950s, 60s and beyond, amongst the likes of the godfathers and godmothers of the St. Louis Shag.

Thanks to these dancers, the St. Louis Shag has been passed down and continues to be practiced around the world today and it started to grow again.

Thanks to Jenny & Christian – we have learned so much from you both!

Both have been Dancers in Residence in Vienna – one of the best Innovations of the IG HOP. IG HOP

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