A Note to Politico: Shagging is Dancing

In 2011, the Click blog at Politico.com wrote about Michele Bachmann campaigning in South Carolina. An excerpt:

Three hours after she made the error, Bachmann mentioned Elvis again, this time talking about his “passing” rather than his b-day. She played the song “Promised Land” and with a little shake, shake, shake of the hips said, “maybe we’ll turn it on at the end and do some shagging up here. If you want to shag a little bit, that’s what we’ll do.”

Translation for the Facebook generation: shagging is an old school dance move.

Fast forward to this week and you’ll see a current reporter for Politico who isn’t as diligent about correcting her cultural ignorance…

The following tweet (reported on by Politico) appeared on the account of Congressman Stephen Fincher from Tennessee and was later deleted:

“God I love this song. And beach music. AND shagging #pandora,” the tweet from Fincher’s verified account read on Tuesday, accompanied by a picture of a Pandora playlist playing the song “I Love Beach Music” by The Embers.

Kendall Breitman went with the easy sensationalistic angle in writing about this. I’m guessing she’s from the generation that only knows the word from Austin Powers movies and didn’t bother to search her own publication’s archives or she would have noticed the Bachmann story from 2011 that I mentioned above.

Her story, “Aide: I sent Stephen Fincher ‘shagging’ tweet”, includes the fact that Elizabeth Lauten, Fincher’s communications director accidentally made the tweet, which was intended for her Facebook account. Anyone who has managed multiple social media accounts can tell you the risk of this happening is something that you have to be careful about, and I’ve even accidentally made some tweets (luckily early morning or on the weekend) and deleted them immediately after realizing it. In that case I was hamstrung by a Blackberry and the app I used then.

Here’s what Breitman wrote about the tweet:

“It had nothing to do with Stephen Fincher,” Lauten said in an interview. “I don’t think he knows what Pandora is; he certainly doesn’t have it.”

Lauten described the situation as “an accident,” saying that she was listening to a Pandora radio station when she decided to share the song with her Facebook friends. When she pressed share, Pandora also shared the post to Fincher’s Twitter account.

Lauten contacted Pandora to revoke access to the account, and once access was revoked the Tweet was automatically deleted. The staffer also insists that “shagging” was not a sexual reference, but a form of dance.
“Shagging is dancing to me, and it was no big deal being a North Carolina girl,” Lauten said.

Breitman leaves it at that and doesn’t apparently do the cursory research on Google, or anywhere else, to find out more about the dance. The fact that a link to Pandora and beach music should have clued Breitman in as well that the British version of the term wasn’t in play.

It appears that Breitman was looking for an easy throwaway story at the beginning of the slow August recess period. That could be understood, but it would have been nice had she actually done a little basic research on the dance and provided that background. At best, it makes her look lazy and just going for the cheap sexual reference that doesn’t even apply in this case.

Some facts on the shag and shagging:

  • In 1989, Shag (a movie) was released starring Phoebe Cates and Bridget Fonda.
  • The Shag is the State Dance of South Carolina and has been declared the “most popular” dance in North Carolina.
  • Both North Carolina and South Carolina have license plates (North Carolina’s says “I’d rather be shaggin’.”)
  • The dance is a descendant of the jitterbug.
  • The band Alabama, which got its start playing at The Bowery in Myrtle Beach, released a hit song in 1997 titled, “Dancin’, Shaggin’ on the Boulevard.”

Here are the license plates:


The song mentioned in the tweet:

A clip from Shag, the movie:

Here’s the original movie trailer from 1989:

Here’s some beach music for your listening pleasure:

Here’s the Alabama video for the song I mentioned above:

Jeff Quinton

Jeff Quinton

Jeff Quinton is an award-winning blogger who has been aggregating and blogging since 1998. He has worked as a reporter, in government, and as a communications professional in Columbia, SC and Washington, DC.

Quinton is a native South Carolinian who has lived in Baltimore since 2006. He is a recent convert to the Catholic Church and is active in the Knights of Columbus. He has been involved in the pro-life movement nationally and locally since 2010.

Quinton is a veteran who served as an intelligence analyst in the Army National Guard. He is also an Eagle Scout.
Jeff Quinton