Tag Archives: North Carolina

Austin Powers in North Carolina

Okay, I know I’ve written about this before, but I never get tired of it.  Cracks me up every time.

I’m just glad that I learned right when I got here two years ago that “shagging” refers to a beach music dance that originated in South Carolina, because I’d always just understood the lewd way it was used in the Austin Powers movies, and the conversation I had today with a total stranger in line at Goodwill would have been a lot less funny and a lot more creepy.

I’m standing in line and a well-dressed gentleman of about 60 approaches.  He is carrying four or five Hawaiian-style shirts.

“Planning a trip to the beach?”  I joked.  I like to pass the time chatting with people in line, especially when the lady ahead of me had cleaned out the entire stock of cheap vases which forced the cashier to wrap each one in its own blanket of newspaper.

“Nope,” the man answered, looking down at his shirts.  Then he looked up at me.  “They’re for shagging.”  

I stifled a giggle.  “MMmmmm…” I said.

“Do you shag?”  he asked me.  I scanned his face, and it was completely straight, innocently awaiting my response.

“Uh, well, no, I haven’t had the chance yet.”  I swallow down a chuckle.  I am a veritable shagging virgin!  “But it’s definitely on my list of things to try.”

“Oh, you should.  Shagging is a lot of fun… and great exercise, too!”  

“MMmmmmm…” is all I can say as I purse my lips hard so as not to burst out laughing.

Have these people never heard of Austin Powers?  What if I’d just gotten off the boat from the West Coast?  A transcultural misunderstanding of horrific proportions might have come to pass.

Ahhh, good ol’ North Carolina.  We shag unashamedly here!  Out in the middle of the road, if we feel like it!  It’s a jolly tradition that is passed down from generation to generation here!  

At least he didn’t offer to give me a shagging lesson.  I’d’ve had to wollop him but good.

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Shagging in North Carolina

I’ve gotten used to a lot of things here in North Carolina, but I still can’t help giggling when I hear people say they know how to “shag.”  To the British and all who are familiar with them, the term “shag” means to have sex… a meaning that people here somehow manage to ignore.

Of course, the American Southeastern use of “shag” to refer to a type of swing dancing, which was made the official dance of South Carolina in 1984, predates the Austin Powers movies, so they can’t be expected to modify their traditions simply because of the appearance of a goofy movie or two.

Danced to beach music and said to have originated in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in the 1930’s, the shag is a dance that young people in the Southeast still enjoy doing.  I have even heard an entire radio show dedicated to the music meant to accompany shagging (see? even there I cracked a smile) so that one can hear the DJ say things like, “You’re listening to Shagging at the Beach” or “And now, let’s hear some more music to shag to.”

It makes me feel like a five year old cackling over a fart.  Or an eight year old going into hysterics because someone said, “Do it.”

Despite my highly unsophisticated reaction, I do have respect for Carolinians and their art form.  But no teenage boy had better come to my house and announce that he and my daughter are going to go out to dinner and then shag.  Other than that, I will try in the future to keep my giggling to a dull roar.

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