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Shag dancing is good for your health

By Megan Riley | August 19, 2019 | Healthy Lifestyle

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Step back in time to the Carolina coast in the 1950s. Soft drinks are served in glass bottles. Ladies wore their hair sky-high. And Carolina Shag dominated the dance floor.

Shag Dancing
Reds – Early 2000’s

Jennifer Payne, R.N., Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) Episodic Care Manager and professional Carolina Shag competitive dancer grew up hearing her grandparents reminisce about the early days of Shag, and developed a passion for the smooth dance moves and soulful beach music as a teenager in Clinton, N.C.

Proclaimed the official state popular dance in 2005 (serving alongside clogging, the official state folk dance), the Shag has a deep-rooted history in North Carolina and is also beneficial for many health reasons.

Dancing is Good For Your Health

“Dancing can improve balance and is also really good exercise,” said Payne. “You practice to get better, leading to consistent exercise similar to jogging.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, adults should do at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week[1].

“Aside from getting in shape to me, the main benefits of Shag dancing are the emotional and social aspects,” said Payne, who met her husband through competitions.

A recent study from Harvard Medical School explains that dancing “increases levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin.” [2]

Jennifer’s daughter Gracie dancing. 2019

Payne and her husband, Kevin, have emphasized the importance of keeping this old-school partner dance alive to their daughters, particularly 14-year-old Gracie.

“She has made so many good friends through learning Shag, and now when we travel for volleyball tournaments, she has friends up and down the East coast,” said Payne.

Find a Club Near You

Payne encourages anyone curious about the dance, the music or the community to lookup an area Carolina Shag club for lessons and fellowship.

“Kevin and I have moved probably 12 times, and every time we meet our new community with Shag,” said Payne. “It’s not just a dance – it’s a family.”

To learn more about Carolina Shag dancing, find a club near you.


[1] U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, [2] Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute