by Peter - 31 January 2015
Hey folks - so 2015 is almost out, I thought It'd be a good moment to write up some personal highlights of the Year In Shag!
This post is based on my leaky memories, so I’ve probably made some significant omissions.
We’d love to hear your highlights, so please leave a comment!
The year began as usual in January with a trip to Paris Balboa Shag Festival to teach with the multi-talented Fancy Dougherty.
The festival was great fun - very compact, with a superb venue, swingin' bands, and an enthusiastic bunch of shagsters. Plus it was very easy to get there thanks to Eurostar! I was honoured to be on the bill alongside Fancy, Moe, Vincenzo and more.
February was bursting with highlights:
The main event was Rock That Swing festival, where bunch of Shag Pilers performed as part of Steve & Chanzie's 'Euroshag' team. The venue was the enormous Deutches Theater, and the event was hugely popular, coming as it does at the end of the Munich ball season.
It was more than a little nerve wracking to be performing in front of European shag maestros including festival organisers Markus & Barbl, and legendary old-time shag dancer Ray Hirsch, who danced at the event sadly died in August aged 94. After the performance, a bunch of us including Patrick & Gotcha threw our hats in the ring and took part in the Shag Battle - and Aila and I were surprised and delighted to win!
The trip to Munich was swiftly followed by a first-ever UK visit from St Louis Shag flag-bearers Christian Frommelt & Jenny Shirar. The duo have been doing great things to rekindle interest in this fun dance which resembles 'our' Shag more in name than in style. A decent sized group came along to Kingsley Hall and were given a masterclass in SLS. On the second day, Christian & Jenny led us through their version of Lindy Hop; 'St Louis Jitterbug'. This distinctive styling involves lots of three wall swing outs. We're looking forward to C&J's next UK visit!
What happened in March?
I have no idea.
Moving on, April saw not one, but two masterclasses with London-based shag legend Moe Sakan! We're chuffed to have a shagster of Moe's standing in London and will definitely be getting her back for more in the New Year.
The highlight of May was our residency at On The Gardens, at which we introduced Shag to an unsuspecting public. The event was so popular we were invited back for more in September.
May also gave a few of us the opportunity to strut our stuff in the Fast and Furious division of the London Swing Festival. On top of the fun of competing, we got to meet and dance with US shagsters Katy Alexander and Irina Amzashvili.
In June Shag Pile turned one year old! We celebrated with a party at the Gallery Cafe, joined by Greco-Roman Gypsy Jazz faves 'Gyps'N'Progress'. I made a cake.*
*I bought a cake and cut out some marzipan letters.
One high point of the month was this rooftop shag up above the streets of Soho! Chim Chimmeree!
July is holiday season, and it was lovely to see Shag being supported at Hep Cats' Holiday....
...and to see Shag Pilers Florence and Sasha making the news at Swing Crash in Como, Italy!
In August we welcomed another international guest teacher, this time all the way from Athens - the lovely, enthusiastic and talented Mariangela!
Following the fun of our birthday party in June, we started regular shag social Cut a Rug. The event runs every other month, with the first of 2016 on the 12th of February - mark your diaries!
September was sadly notable for the sad loss of Ray Hirsch.
Ray is a big figure in Shag due to the well known clips of him dancing with partner Patty Lacy. Ray always referred to himself as a 'Swing Dancer' - the delineations between different styles didn't matter so much as the energy you put into feeling the music and doing your thing on the floor. I love this attitude, as it's kind of what got me into swing dancing in the first place. There's a longer story to tell there in another post.
On a happier note, we got to see more wonderful shag showcases at Camp Hollywood in LA, including performances from LA Shag and this sweet routine from the Hang Ten Hoppers:
Patrick & Gotcha had their first international gig in October teaching at Barcelona Shag Festival - I heard many reports of what a great time everyone had. The photo certainly shows a happy smiling group of shagsters!
October also saw the debut performance by the Shageroonies, performing a special new routine at the European Swing Dance Championships.
An unofficial Shag Contest took place later that evening, with the result that Shag will be on the menu at 2016's Championships!
November saw another highlight of the UK Year in Shag with 'Swing Fastival'. Steve & Chanzie and Jeremy & Laura came over and taught a weekend of top class shag.
December saw the launch of Shag Dancers of London Facebook group. Cut A Rug featured guest teacher and Catalan Cat Sara Planas. Finally, we rounded out the year with the Shag Pile Christmas Knees Up, where we filmed a festive mini-routine for our friends in Sweden. Check out all those Shag Fingers!
And that's all for 2015!
It's been great to see the Shag Pile gang grow and grow, and even better to see the dance taking off all over town. The year ahead's going to be a goodie, so stay tuned for a preview!
Leave comments below - we'd love to hear about your year.
Especially March. What happened in March?
Have a great 2016 - and happy shagging!