More than 570 shag dancers recently celebrated the Hilton Head Island Carolina Shag Club’s (HHICSC) 25th anniversary during its annual Island Winter Classic. The grand shag party was held Jan. 9-12 at the Marriott Hilton Head Resort & Spa on the island.

Lovers of beach music danced successive nights to The Band of Oz, The Embers featuring Craig Woolard, and professional Shag DJ Buck Crumpton.

A highlight of Saturday night’s entertainment was the Junior Shagger dance demonstration from the Shag Time Youth Foundation. These young Shag dancers demonstrated their love of Shag dancing as well as tremendous talent and skill as they performed routines with their partners and as a group.

To show their appreciation, event guests made contributions of more than $3,000 to the Foundation to support these young shaggers in pursuit of their dance dreams.

The Shag Time Youth Foundation is charitable organization led by National Shag Dance Champion Sam West and his wife, Lisa. Becky Elliott, chair of the HHICSC Junior Shag development committee, explained the goals behind junior shagger programs like the West’s Foundation.

The group’s mission is to inspire youth to be joyful and confident.

One local success of the junior shagger program is Noah Gregory. A 9th grader at Hilton Head Preparatory School, Noah was first introduced to the Junior Shag community at the HHICSC 2016 Island Winter Classic by his grandparents, Vito and Jean Magarelli.

His love of music and dancing led Noah to begin dance lessons and he now travels to regional functions such as Junior SOS, the Spring Junior Cyclone in Charlotte, N.C., and Winter Jam in North Myrtle Beach to enhance his skill and compete against other Junior dancers.

Noah was recently chosen as an alternate on the Junior Shag Dance Team, a North Carolina group of Carolina Shag Dancers who travel to compete and perform.

Becky Elliott, her husband Rick, and other HHICSC volunteers began a local junior shagger program this past summer for young people on Hilton Head Island and in the surrounding communities. The group meets bi-monthly to practice basic steps and learn increasingly advanced routines.

In the process of learning to dance youth also learn personal respect, manners and social graces, sportsmanship and work ethics, positive communication and interpersonal skills, time management, organization and flexibility, and to make friends and stay friends. The program is open to all youth, ages 9-20.

For more information about this junior shagger program, contact Elliott at elliottbs 08@gmail.com.

For more information about the local shag club, visit hiltonheadshagclub.com.