The subject of Beach Music then and now can bring out some polarizing opinions at times. Like many of the greatest things in life, it evolved through a series of cultural effects rather than being a planned entity. In other words, I don’t think anyone sat down (back in the 1940s) and said, “I think I’ll create a new musical genre and call it beach music.” With its roots being traced back to the late 40s (possibly earlier), it wasn’t until decades later, after hearing the familiar tunes at venues along the beaches in the Carolinas, that it developed into a recognized genre all its own. Anything without an official documentation of its initial occurrence will eventually generate varying opinions of its origin.
As a matter of fact, many still do not consider it a genre at all, but rather a collection genres that represent a lifestyle. There was certainly a connection of the tunes to a new style of dance that evolved in the same era. That dance today is call the Shag. The emergence of the Shag dance was too, according some historians, a spin-off of sorts. Some, like Harold Bessinger of the famous FAt Harold’s Beach Club has memories of the early days of Shag and the accompanying music. Harold says he and his friends in the late 40s and early 50s were dancing a jitter bug-style of dance that over time evolved into Shag Dance.
The tunes associated with the dance and the lifestyle enjoyed by those who participated certainly caught on and has continued to evolve surviving at least 6 decades and growing. That the genre (or lifestyle) is growing, to this day, is yet another point of disagreement among its followers. The connection to Shag dance is and has been rather coincidental. Over the years the two have evolved independently while being connected by the beat.
Some consider the dance and the music more connected than they really are. It is a popular misconception to lump those fans together. The ShagCityUSA.com social network plays 24 / 7 beach music and has been conducting an on-going survey through its membership. Those results are yielding a surprising ratio of 1 in 4 who listen to the music that are actually Shag dancers. Once again, yet another point of contention within this “lifestyle” .
To me, none of this really matters. What really matters is the music is great and Zeus Radio’s Shag City USA radio station is growing. As of this writing we have reached 48 of the 50 United States and are working on Wyoming and South Dakota. The Beach Music Then and Now discussions are fun to explore, but the focus should be on Beach Music Now and in the future. Be sure to tune in to Shag City radio at http://shagcityusa.com.