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Saint Louis Shag
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Shag Dancers
St Louis Shag History Title

               The Saint Louis Shag ... originally came from the Charleston (according to Kenny Wetzel) rather than the Collegiate Shag back in the 1920's. Arthur Murray's book, "Down Memory Lane" spoke of a dance called the "St. Louis Hop. " Murray reported it was very "fast and strenuous" (could be the start of the St. Louis Shag).

      The St. Louis Shag is quite different than the Charleston, Murray, Carolina or Collegiate versions, while some steps are shared, these

dances look and are totally different than the St. Louis version. The Saint Louis Shag is a spot dance (done in place) and is done to very fast stomp, jump and boogie woogie music (much faster than Balboa/ Collegiate Shag versions.) ... In the clip beow Mary ann Nunez and Kenny Wetzel do the St. Louis Shag in the second part of this routine. --------->

      It has a lot of kicks and closed position patterns, some steps can be done apart as well as done together (basic is in closed position). Some Pattern names are: Kenny Kicks, Kenny Flicks, Buffalo Shuffle, Peek-A-Boo, The Freeze, The Bop, Hop Scotch, etc. Certain Shag movements can be identified with Charleston steps.

      A native of St. Louis, Kenny Wetzel introduced the St. Louis Shag to Southern California West Coast Swing dancers over 50 years ago. Kenny was also the best looking in his execution of the Shag dancers, a legend in this dance as well. The St. Louis Shag is an extremely fast, closed position dance. The general speed for it is around 220-300 bpm (only done by the better dancers) And a definite show stopper of a dance. Handclappin' by the Backsters is the ultimate St. Louis Shag song.


Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

St. Louis, MO. 1920's n/a Swing

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

St. Louis Related Music Titles

n/a The Shag 1903 - St. Louis Rag (Turpin)
            1904 - St. Louis Tickle (Bennett)
            St Louis Blues [MP3] (Bessie Smith)
            1930 - St. Louis Blues [MP3] (Ellington)
            1926 - St. Louis Hop (Waggner)
            1927 - St. Louis Shuffle (Waller)
            1930 - St. Louis Lou (Kanter)
            1937 - The Shag (Ager)
            Handclappin' (Backsters) [Shag Song]
            St. Louis Boogaloo [MP3] (Darin Gray)
            St. Louis Shuffle is driving me Bananas!
            St. Louis Slide [MP3] (Darin Gray)
            St. Louis Stomp
            St. Louis Stop [MP3] (Darin Gray)
            The Stomp (Backsters) [Shag Song]

Night Clubs



Lion' D'or - CA n/a Los Angeles, CA
Palladium - CA       New York
Press Box - CA       San Francisco, CA
        St. Louis, Missouri

Films / Movies


Ballets / Stage

1983 & 84 US Open Contests 1973 World Swing Dance Championships n/a
      1983, 84, 85 US Open Championships  


            Down Beat Magazine

Other Related Dances of the time...

Arthur Murray Shag Carolina Shag Flying Lindy (see WCS) St. Louis Shag
Balboa Champion Strut Jitterbug Steppin'
Ballin' The Jack Charleston Jive Sugar Foot
Baltimore Buzz Collegiate Shag Lindy (Hop) Suzy Q'
Big Apple Creep, the New Orleans Shag Tango
Black Bottom D.C. Hand Dancing New Yorker, the (ECS) Tap Dance
Boogie Woogie Eagle Rock Peabody, the Texas Tommy
Bop East Coast Swing Peelin The Peach Truckin'
Breakaway Foxtrot Rock and Roll Waltz
Bugg Funky Butt Shim Sham West Coast Swing
Camel Walk Flea Hop Snake Hips Double Shag

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Bob & Annette Garret Lance Shermoen n/a
Buzz Malatsky Maryann Nunez  
Cookie Giamo Mike Faille  
Debbie Ramsey Sherry Lawson  
Jim Fisk Shirley Fietsem  
Jim & Lorraine Byrnes Sonny Watson  
John Bedrosian Yolanda Ocho  
Kenny Wetzel    

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...

Title Author Date Published Publisher



Poets / Writers

Backsters, The n/a n/a
Ben Anter        
George Waggner        
Theron C. Bennett        

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

Southside     -
The Basic Step:
Couple stands in closed V-shaped closed position, Don't Hop, do as smoothly as possible. Leader Start Left foot, Follower Right foot
When kicking, the shoulders should not rock or dip back and forth, (you will not have the time when it gets fast).
The speed is in the legs, Not the body!.
On counts 1&2, a single rhythm (one step) can be done in place of the triple, however it cuts the energy in half.
small steps Forward Lt-Rt-Lt Triple step 1&2
Kick Forward -Rt Skip-Kick &3
Kick Backward -Rt Skip-Kick &4
Backward Step -Rt Step 5
Inplace-Lift foot -Lt Stomp 6
Forward / Back -Lt/Rt F-Rock / Step 7 / 8
April 12, 2013