Collegiate shag

The Collegiate Shag is a form of swing dancing, which has some visual similarity with balboa (another swing dance), but with different footwork. Danced with a lead and follow, it is now danced to primarily upper tempo jazz music (usually 200+ beats per minute) while historically it was danced to a variety of tempos but primarily mid-tempos. It is danced in a closed position dance hold (similar to those used in ballroom dances). Three forms of "Collegiate Shag" danced in the early thirties were termed single, double, and triple Shag. The variety names describe the amount of slow (step, hop) steps performed in the execution of a basic. These slow rhythmic steps were always accompanied by a single quick, quick rhythm.

"Collegiate" shag evolved from Shag a dance with no clear historical record, but assumed to be the based on early Foxtrot. The term “Shag” however is known to have been used as a slang term to describe early Vaudeville performers. The name association is presumed to relate to the lively performance nature of the dance. The differences in rhythm most likely were due to lack of standardization of Foxtrot basics at the time and the prevalence of regional styling. It was named "Collegiate" Shag most likely as a marketing ploy as many "Collegiate" dances were being created at the time for marketed towards the young ("college age") dancers. These “Collegiate” dances were leaping/hopping versions of their early ballroom counterparts. The name was derived from the way college youth would liven up the dances of old. These forms are known to pre-date the lindy hop and balboa. Other breeds of Shag were later created such as Carolina shag and St. Louis shag. These other forms only share its name "Shag" not technique or imagery. This is again, most likely, due to its slang association with performance dances.

The dance is still performed today (Primarily "Double" Shag) by swing dance enthusiasts worldwide.


Described below is "Double" Shag which uses a slow, slow, quick, quick rhythm. The basic takes six counts/beats of music.

Shag Position (from leader's point of view) Often the lead's left hand is held straight up overhead and the lead's left elbow touches the follow's right elbow. This was not always practiced, some dancers preferred the conventional ballroom left arm to the side frame. Follow usually mirrors the leads' footwork in closed position. Couples danced square thus meaning shoulders/toes lined up so you were facing directly in front of your partner.

Note:Leap is defined as; Transferring/changing weight to the other foot while jumping (weight is elevated off feet not necessarily a high vertical this was usually minimal). Hop is defined as; jumping (weight is elevated off feet not necessarily a high vertical this was usually minimal) and landing on the same foot, i.e. weight is not transferred.

  • Basic: (Beat 1: leap onto left foot, beat 2: hop on left, beat 3: leap onto right foot, beat 4: hop on right, beat 5: leap onto left foot, and beat 6 leap onto right foot)
  • Circle kicks: (like basic, but up foot moves in a circle)
  • Camel kicks: (side by side) kick left, step left, kick right, step right, step left (replace), step right (replace). Follows should not mirror the lead in closed, but rather match in a different way.
  • Breaks: A hop and hold action (leap onto left leaving out the hop, leap onto right leave out the hop, leap left, and leap right)
  • Girl spin: The girl can do overhead, free, or apache turns on the slows or the fasts...
  • Guy spin

See also

Search another word or see livenon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature