SOS Fall Migration Brings Shag Dancers to the Beach

Annual event features live beach music, dancing in the streets

By Terry Massey,

Walk up to a total stranger and ask them if they would like to shag, and you'll likely get slapped.

But pop the same question in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., and you might end up with a dance partner, especially if you attend the annual SOS Fall Migration event.

SOS officially stands for "Society of Stranders," although some affectionately refer to it as "Save Our Shag." Dedicated to the preservation of the Carolina shag – the South Carolina state dance that's deeply rooted in the sands of the Grand Strand – the SOS Fall Migration attracts thousands of shaggers of all ages to dance on Ocean Drive.

"Shaggin' on the boulevard" in Myrtle Beach — Photo courtesy of City of North Myrtle Beach

Founded on the shores of the Carolina coast at outdoor pavilions and indoor dance halls, the shag became a nationwide fad in the mid-1900s.

Best described as a swing dance to classic beach music, the shag is still alive and well on the beaches and bars of the Grand Strand, the 60-mile strip of white-sand shoreline that surrounds Myrtle Beach.

Billed as the "Biggest 10-day Adult Party on the East Coast," the SOS Fall Migration takes place in 2015 from Sept. 18 to Sept. 27, with a full schedule of events for folks who want to take a stroll down memory lane in their dancing shoes.

Parties are held each night at the SOS-sanctioned clubs on Ocean Drive, such as Fat Harold's Beach Club, Duck's, the Ocean Drive Arcade & Grill, the Pirate's Cove and the clubs at the Ocean Drive Beach & Golf Resort.

But the main events are Fun Sunday and Fun Monday, Sept. 20 to 21. The SOS crowd closes down Ocean Drive for an outdoor show at the Horseshoe, where Main Street dead-ends at the ocean. Patrons listen to live music by some of the biggest bands on the beach music scene and dance the day and night away.

Guests are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket for seating to the free event and to purchase raffle tickets to help support the cause.

Each participating lounge will hold scheduled "tea parties" to provide social gatherings for shaggers to mix and mingle. Guests are encouraged to take to the dance floors that are covered with a combination of sand and sawdust for sliding on the soles of your feet, and experienced shaggers are always willing to teach newcomers some moves.

Attendees for the club events are required to purchase a membership in the American Society of Strand Clubs at ShagDancing.com.