Sometime ago around the pandemic, when virtual dance classes were part of every home daily routine and internet was connecting us more than ever, I asked ~200 active Shag dancers “What are the best things about dancing Shag? What are the best things dancing Shag when you also dance Lindy Hop and other swing dances?” to find out what is connecting and inspiring our worldwide community.

I wanted to group similar answers and find connecting dots, so it seemed that most answers fell into several groups like feeling, energy, community, music, tempo, connection, some answers were combination of all that, and some answers had a brilliant poetic beauty in it, so I realised I’ll just post every single answer as it is, unedited. Enjoy!

Feel free to leave your answer in the comments as well.

“What are the best things about dancing Shag? What are the best things dancing Shag when you also dance Lindy Hop and other swing dances?” // 2020-01-20 // Arnas Razgunas

Feeling like floating

Hahaha omg, I answered so fast, it was the first thing I thought. But, yes. Versus Lindy Hop & Lindy Charleston were I do need to step a bit more and to feel the floor I guess. In Collegiate Shag I feel like floating, like comparing similar moves likes Swing Out/Shag Out; Tandem Charleston vs. Tandem in Shag; Hand to Hand; or Promenade, etc. In Collegiate Shag feels so much free! Sometimes I get the same feeling while dancing St. Louis Shag even if it has triple steps.

-Patricio Espinoza

Shag community!

-Javiera Borgoño Passache

Music is more fun!

Yeah! I love Boogie music – playing that got me into dancing in the first place. But for Shag, any two-beat rhythm will do, really. Which opens a LOT of doors 😁

I also like that the songs we dance to are not always that PC. Stuff like ‘Me, I Like Reefer’ and ‘Jack, I’m Mellow’, but also a bit more profane, like this one:

It seems the Lindy world is filtering more and more, while these songs to me are hilarious 😜

-Ron Smits

Joyful music – simply makes you happy, better connection – easier for not so experienced dancers, feeling like floating (thanks Patricio Espinoza you’re totally right) – makes you addicted to this feeling. Oh and you guys 💕

-Réka Mócsai

I think its not easy so easy. Many people I know reject shag at first because it hurts their feet when they are not used to that. Its kind of not easy for the body.

Also following and leading is not so easy in shag as leader should make difference with slows and quicks.

-Ulla Ritamäki

Energy! 🔥

More like feeling energetic from dancing, filled with positive vibes. Like for me, it just makes me want to go out, do stuff. And of course lindy also gets me feeling all positive but shag just kind of gives me this huge kick of energy.

-Marta Karolina Mętrak

Fun, joyful, motivating and fast music; yeah, feeling like fleating 😊 and spectacular to watch 😊

in my opinion the crazy going feet!!

I think the mostly big, controlled and synchronized movements play an important role. Im thinking about kicks, different footwork, variety of positions and shapes, travelling,… and the fast changing between all those provide a lot if action and makes it entertaining to watch.

Further, of course, the joy, fun and energy of the dancers caused by the moving to fast energetic music and endorphines. 😉

-Stef Schm

Smile and joy! 😃

For me both are on the equal level. Every day I’m waiting for shag dancing like as Christmas present and when I finally have a possibility to dance I feel like a small child with a toy 😀 full joy and smile is on my face 😀 I feel the same when my stomach is waiting for food and when is finally full 😀

Shag = Life

-Marcin Matysiak

Apart from the many things that have already been said: closer dancing (also a point for balboa) and doing crazy stuff while trying not to mess it, which is part of every dance but happens when more in shag – and it’s funnier!

I personally enjoy the interaction when moving together as one instead of leading and following open movements. Not saying that it’s better (or worse), but it’s a different feeling and definitely a contrast to lindy (as it’s usually danced).

-Ignacio García Soblechero

Above all, the energy as a quality and the amount of energy in relation to the tempo. And the music, which is sometimes the same as for Lindy etc., sometimes not.

But then also synchronisation of movement between partners. Many people, especially followers miss the freedom of improvisation and the independency they have for example in Lindy and it’s super fun and important to explore on that in shag but being in sync with the partners movement like a mirror is a good feeling too.

-Ula La

a unique energy of dynamically hopping around but for me it has to be light, NOT like a workout. (With variations, of course).

A rubber ball quality.

-Ula La

i feel the energy like Ampere/lightening flowing through my whole body (in best case through both bodies) wenn the first beat drops 🙂

and mindset is kind of very clear and with high attention on the situation. sometimes (mostly) this feeling stays also after a dance.

-Sepp Messner

That shag is so adaptable in terms of energy level but also the fast tempo! And shag fam for sure! And shag fam seem so much more fun and welcoming from my personal opinion which is why I have mainly stuck to this dance! I feel most welcome and at home here it captured my heart and the people make the experience 🙂

I feel that it has been different in different scenes yes. I just know wherever I go I feel content with shag but when I have gone to some lindy scene I didn’t feel as welcome so that’s why I mainly do shag…. maybe I’ll dabble in other things this year to see if it has changed

-Niomi Mcsorley

Going crazy!

Going crazy and energetic from the music and the feel of the dance. It make you explode with energy while you enjoy so many shag specific moves and that make it unique dance.

-Hristiqn Georgiev

I think just having that right feeling when the music hits that 1-¡2! thing. Instead of travelling into a triplestep or swinging accross the dancefloor u just listen to the music and begin to have that vertical feeling: up&down and up&down.

I like it cause u have more resources for different songs. It just feel right man! 🧐☝️

-Victor Raggmopp

Banana! 🍌

Of course! When I start with the slow I’m immediately getting a huge smile on my face 😁

But it’s of course much more than that. I didn’t read the other comments…

There are a lot of reasons. It feels like a family where everyone is welcome and no-one seems untouchable. It’s the energy. The endorphines your body spreads out when you’re getting sporty. Etc etc etc

-Sergej Götz

I love the energy and the happiness when you dance!!

I feel like a child and I feel there are more chances to play with your partner. 🙂

Yes thats true! Shag is kind of a childish dance with all the hopping, and that hopping makes you happy!! 😀 I never realized that before!

-Cony Aguilera

SHAG: S for Silly, H for Happy, A for Artistic, G for Gleeful

I <3 Shag because every time I dance I instantly feel happy. It has this magical power.

I also feel happy dancing other styles as well, but when I’m dancing Shag I feel like I have more freedom to express myself.

And of course, the community and the friends are also something that brought me closer to dancing Shag more than anything else.

-Cristi Patrascu

The moment the first shag step hits the floor, it automatically eliminates any negative emotions and makes me smile WAY more than any of the other swing dances. I love the looseness and relaxed nature of the dance that lends itself into fun movements – particularly sideways movements like the banana, which other dances have less off.

-Amy Lu

Funny how some people don’t find Shag a relaxed dance at all… 😀 Apart from the joy and silliness and therefore a natural letting go, I think Shag relaxedness comes from both the posture and the need to economise your movements due to the fast pace – if you do it right, your weight drops, your upper body becomes relatively still, all energy goes into the movement – no space or time for strain and tension…

-Tina Altwegg

Can it be described as if you are hopping cloud to cloud, lingering just long enough so you don’t fall through it, so light that you don’t just plummet right through? (I have an image of Super Mario or video game characters crossing obstacles which require fast, quick, and light reflexes..).

-Amy Lu

Hm, so relaxing comes first? On the one hand, yes, of course, on the other, I find it’s a back and forth – because even though you dance to crazy tempos, there can be a certain level of relaxedness in Shag that has a different quality from other dances. But if you are talking about the “before” – I find Shag is a reassuring dance, there is a clarity and focus when you enter it, and a mutual understanding that you are going to make this a cool thing (although I could potentially be better at all the focus :-D) – perhaps that’s what brings it about?

-Tina Altwegg


I started shag because I wanted to be able to express the energy I felt when I heard those fast tunes. Shag is a medium for me to release my energy, and I get so much energy back. After every dance I just want more more more. I feel that shag is the only dance that can match my happiness, my sillyness and energy. And the only dance powerful enough to release me of my daily worries.

-Stine Mosekjær

The main reason for me is because we feel very close here like in a big mixed family and we share always real smiles not only dance movements.

Is bit different from Lindy and Balboa scene and atmosphere. More pure, easygoing and able to bind people together. And that fast bits … so powerful that you cannot keep your feet and your body on the ground …And you suddenly look for some other smiling shagger eager to start jumping with you 😍🤪

absolutely about the nature of the dance. Everything comes out spontaneously.

-Cosimo Puglia

Shag is like a roller coaster for me! When I want excitement and fun and an explosion of energy! I like it different from Lindy and balboa because it’s very partner-dependent and I get to move my body differently than I do in the other two. And of course the community!

-Olivia Lizardo

It’s fast it’s fun, community is small, close, accepting of all, it’s simply the best, we have danced a lot of swing dances over a long period, if your happy dance shag, if your sad, dance shag = your happy

-Jim Nicky-Swingbytes

The joy of the dance. It’s fun to dance and fun to watch. People see you doing shag and they are instantly riveted and start to smile. Bringing that joy to others, making their day a little better makes mine a little better and dancing makes my day a little better so it creates a happiness loop.

The energy, the expression, the adaptability, the connection with partners, the movement of the dance, and the community.

Shag is adaptable in many ways. There are very different ways of movement and style that allow for adapting to physical limitations. It is also very adaptable to music styles, double time something slower and it still works. Dance it to something that doesn’t swing and it still works. It is also adaptable in energy levels. My preference is generally to base energy levels on the song but that varies pretty drastically between whether it is a driving pulse or something smoother, as well as what instruments are playing.

-Amy Sorenson

The type of energy and the way my body moves!! In lindy, I feel like a slinky – way more stretch with a nice spring to it and ultimately quite chill even when going fast, but with shag it’s more like a really tightly wound spring focused on a really tiny spot with so much energy potential waiting to explode!

I think I just also looooove dancing fast and with loads of energy, both for shag and lindy, but shag music is generally faster than lindy music (I need more speedy lindy hop in my life!!). Physical exhaustion that you push through until you are euphoric 👌

-Garance Zinzen

As said before 🙂 energy (as in, it makes you want to jump around, before during and after), fast & more challenging footwork & the music it’s danced on (swing, but also new Orleans jazz or even music that’s more towards rock & roll) oh and I feel I can be a bit more wacky in shag 😉

-Dolinde Van Beek

Most of the things have been said before, but for me it’s the music, the energy of the dance and the community 😊

-Maria Valencia

I have really loved reading through everyone’s answers. Favourite post so far Arnas!

The main thing for me was the feeling of gliding around the floor. It felt elegant and graceful and light and I think it has to do with the up pulse of shag and the fact that in Melbourne we dance upright which makes it feel as easy and natural as walking.

I also feel much more excited by the faster music. I don’t mind mid tempo lindy speeds, but the songs don’t excite me and make me want to move as much as the 160+ bpm songs do.

-Vi Vian

In addition to all the things I enjoy about shag that have already been said, I also really enjoy the breaks in shag 😀 They are dynamic and the energy buildup and release is amazing! The focus and being in the moment is exciting and challenging at the same time!

And although its already been said multiple times before, I will reiterate. The shag community is lovely. It has a sense of belongingness and comfort that keeps me coming back for more 😁

-Rabia Koda

I think a lot of the energy comes from the music. And because the music is faster this buildup and release happens more often and much quicker giving it a very dynamic nature. I personally enjoy shag when it feels light and floaty and relaxed, and then these buildups and release of the breaks stand out more and are super fun 😀

-Rabia Koda

For me the best things about dancing SHAG are (as many others said) the floating feeling having very fast footwork and almost no movement in the upper body. the energy level in your whole body by being relaxed at the same time, the FUN and the pushing music. Silliness is a nice part and for me the fact, that it has also a sport character (endurance) is very nice. I find it very special in the fast dances to have the communication on a very detailed level, really sharp leading and following and at the same time very relaxed connection. Especially for follows, I find it very special in dancing Shag, because as follow they are like in a state of ‘ZEN’, being very relaxed but ready for everything and even more (by bringing own moves or ideas and styles in).

for leads i find it very nice being in that special “PRESENT” moment too, (in best case) with total sync with music and follow and doing stuff, before even thinking of it.

in comparison to other styles especially these two things, leading and communication on a very detailed and short moment together with silly moves and very energetic moves makes shag for me something special. the fact that Shag is danced more than ever in history nowadays (as I believe) makes me very happy and proud, to be a part of it. And seeing such an active community that feels like a big family is very special. Thanks to all of you of sharing thoughts, love and energy! and thanks to Arnas for bringing us closer together with this special group.

-Sepp Messner

To everything mentioned above I would add that for me these 3 are something that keeps it live:




I would use it as a wide term. Term ‘Culture’ for me would include everything: dancing itself, events, activities, projects, clothing, style, music etc etc

-Rokas Borusevičius

For me, I also love the energy and connection to the music, like many people already mentioned. Now whenever I hear a tune that is very shag, it’s really hard for me to dance any other dance.

Besides that, I thought about it, and I found 2 main aspects that separates my feelings towards shag than for other swing dances.

1- the Basic gives you the freedom to start any move at any part of the basic. Many time we start leading on the first slow, but you could easily lead any move starting on the first or second slow or on the quick quick. And that gives so many opportunities and freedom to the dance! Different from lindy where 90% of the time you have to start with a rock step (or a variation of the 1 and 2) or it would be hard for the move to work. In shag you can start at any point of the basic!

2-I think Shag is more silly than lindy and I LOVE it. Even watching old clips I find some of the moves so fun and sometime hilarious and I really identify myself with that. No wonder so many cartoons portrayed shag dancing – it’s very cartoon like and I LOVE it! ♥️

-Gabriela Novellino

Shag for me is a dance that makes me feel happy from head to toe, and the energy and joy is just beaming out of you. I was drawn to how infectious it is to watch, and still see the eyes light up in new dancers when they see it for the first time.

I love super soft floating round the dancefloor… connection as chilled as blues can be, but with silly, geeky big movements and laughing out loud.

The simplicity of the basic(s): I found this brought out much more personality from me as a follow early on. I found I could be more versatile playing around with musicality, without having to work hard or concentrate on it. I found myself in this dance after hitting a “follow’s glass ceiling” in lindy.

My energy levels are pretty relentless – it is the only community I can show that without scaring partners away 🙄

-Joanne Barnes

All of the above I guess! The simplicity of the steps/rhythm with small weight changes combined became ingrained so I didn’t have to think about it quite early on in my shag journey (double time basic). (Now I’ve tried to undo that and follow all weight changes if I can, or make the choice to do my own…but was handy to get me going.) The joyful faces & silliness of partners and music helped my mind relax enough to be creative. I’m a technical scientist, so I struggle to switch from a techy “doing mode” to creative expressive mode.

The more obvious separation at your middle helped me isolate with my torso and mess around generally, with minimal effect on my pulse. (5yrs belly dancing kick started that though too). Not so much judgement on anything not being so aesthetically correct. Open position and in a roundabout are great for that.

The “bus stop jazz” feel of playing with or making up your own basics I like. I don’t overthink about “messing up” some other part of the dance – pulse, direction, connection, leads choice of musicality. The closed position, although a little more restrictive for foot direction, I love that you can play with a much lower level dancer, without them stressing because the lead can’t see what you’re doing – often has no clue! If I play as much in Lindy without distracting a beginner to intermediate lead, they can worry about what I’m doing and panic. Classes are beginning to teach different footwork is ok and cool at beginner/imp/int level Lindy over the last year in the UK but not when I was learning at that level. The closer embrace of bal requires more skill if you want to be sneaky about it I found.

The different music styles massively helped my creativity also, as I originally learnt swing dancing in an annoyingly British way … technically, like a sport. I grew up a rock/metal chick, spinning around in the clubs for a decade on my own, for myself. Being able to dance to rock and roll was an awesome help. Lindy hoppers can be snobby about it. The first couple of years I listened to swing and thought about practising, I often concentrated on technique, or for specific things I can add to be more musical. If I put on songs I knew better, or were a bit silly (e.g. found a practice partner willing to dance to the offspring!) I was just more musical on instinct. This helped me out until swing music became the norm.

-Joanne Barnes

For me it is also about how I am feeling lindy and shag in my body. When I’m dancing shag I’m more “stable”, concentrating on my hips and my legs which gives me more weight control. It also produce using different dimension of moving compare to lindy hop.

This things all together give new ideas of expressing myself in dance with the same music. So shag is the way to listen music differently and use your body differently

Also yes, you can add some fun in dancing and it’s definitely crazier energy than Lindy hop 😂

-Elena Gorbacheva

I didn’t read all the comments above yet as i want to be” free” in my writing about the question… so sorry guys when you perhaps read “simular stuff” 😉 For me the best things about shag are: the fun in dancing it as it is’s such an energetic dance, full of expression and speed; the feeling of relaxation you get in your upper body when the bpm’s rise and your feet go crazy; the body communication and attention you have and give to your partner (as the music is so fast and it has to be so precise); the crazy silliness you are able to express 😜 I am slowly getting the feeling that one gains from each dance style…and one shares one thing…the compassion and happyness when dancing! And there are of course sooo much more things about SHAG and DANCING!!!! Love it!

-Juls Singer

I love Shag. Here’s why!

(Much of this has been said by others, but here’s my version of why I love Shag).


Range in musicality


Rhythms, footwork

Visually captivating

Scope for creativity & invention

Options in connection



Dynamic range to express music efficiently:

For me, Shag has a unique ability to fully express a range of feelings and emotions in fast music: from the graceful & serene, to the energetic & wild.

(Maybe it’s my ability in fast Lindy: for me, I’ll happily efficiently dance a full song of Shag at 290BPM, but not fast Lindy.

Maybe it’s my ability in Balboa: for me I’m unable to express an explosiveness that Shag can produce if the music goes big)


For me, high tempo dancing physically triggers a type of endorphin release similar to the “runner’s high” that I don’t get from slower dancing. (I do enjoy slower styles too).

Rhythms, footwork, phrasing, tension & release

For Double Shag (6 count): I love the feeling of sliding of six over eight, building suspense which is released when hitting a phrase or a break (vs eight count rhythms constantly locked into phrases automatically).

Rhythms and footwork: as a musician, I love the ability to lead and follow complex rhythms with ease, especially in face to face/ side by side; but also the options to improvise individually too.

I love the optical illusion you can create with footwork whilst having a smooth serene isolated upper body. When following I love the feeling of floating & flying (which I also feel in Balboa, but less in Lindy).

Scope for creativity & invention:

Shag is earlier on in its revival compared to Balboa & Lindy Hop, so there is much to be explored and discovered that is genuinely new to the style (whilst staying faithful to the history & roots).

Visually captivating – Performance & Routines:

Shag’s footwork naturally catches the eye, so it is great as a performance dance. It can happily be static, rotate or travel, solo or partnered, which makes it great for performance and choreography.

Options in connection:

Shag gives you options: you can connect in chest to chest, or with space in face to face – especially useful if you’re feeling hot & sticky (which doesn’t work so well in Balboa – Bal specialists can tell me if it’s authentically Balboa without a chest to chest connection).


Shag is a happy dance. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and neither do the people who dance it. (We do train and practice, but we haven’t lost the sense of fun that can be lost when dance turns into competitive dance sport, or a formal social dance/teaching culture like ballroom/Argentine Tango)

Shag attracts people who are happy to express their sillier side on the dance floor.


The size of the community allows a grass roots feeling without so much stratification compared to say Lindy Hop.

International instructors are generally more active and generous in social dancing compared to say Lindy Hop.

Above all, I love Shag, and the Shag family we have – thank you for being wonderful people bringing joy into everyone’s lives!

-Simon Chan

I’m taking my time to read all the comments and I agree with you all! What I like the most about shag music and dancing is the positive energy it has that makes you do silly things (for example during breaks) and still feel like these belongs to the shag vibe~ I’m not so hard on myself when I dance/practice shag although I am when I dance lindy hop!

That positive energy, I think, makes people more enthusiastic! I love the shag scene that has been built up over the last few years, it’s incredible! That’s all thanks to everyone who probably feels the same!

-Agustina Santillán

Before I started dancing to Swing music I was really into EDM (electric dance music) and Shuffle. I find intricate footwork to fast music oddly satisfying you know? like precise clockwork. And later on I found Shag. It allows you to do all kinds of intincrate things very fast and with a partner!! The feeling of dancing together really close and in sync… Like I said, clockwork. I Agree with Ignacio García Soblechero about closer dancing. Many others made great points too, Simon Chan‘s detailed explaination is superb.

I can relate to your EDM experience – shuffle indeed, also top-rocking to 70s/80s hip hop… fancy footwork in a different context! (Wasn’t any good at it, but had a lot of fun!)

-Jesús Teruel

Hihi there, I am a very young baby to shag even to the swing world, but I’ve definitely caught on the shag fever! I always enjoy kicking and jumping moves and shag offers a lot in that sense. When I dance shag I feel like a JOYFUL person (I feel like I live up to my name :D)— some music just feels right to dance shag to right?

I think shag is not only goofy but you can find a way to be graceful as well? It’s just a whole lot of freedom on your feet if you know how to do it (which I don’t yet).

Another awesome thing about shag is I get to join this super cool group! I‘m very inspired seeing everyone chatting and sharing. Definitely wanna explore more about this dance

-Joy Chen

The best thing about dancing shag is the potential for creative freedom.

It is truly a 2 count dance (even more than other swing dances), and allows dancers as much or as little freedom as the partnership sets forth.

It it can have the closeness and smoothness of Bal, the energy and bounce of Charleston, or the openness of Lindyhop.

Because it can simultaneously be smooth and energetic, it fits most any style of music…not just jazz

The variety is endless.

Also…I love speed! 😊

-Julie Roman

TLDR best in shag is upbeat music, presence of all standard swing dance elements, richness of styling, contrast-creating rarity, adaptability to different tempos and to availability of free space on the dancefloor

Short story long:

– on one end of a line there is just moving to music and on the other there is all out dancing to music – the more happy/fun/crazy/energetic/wide it is, the more it feels like dancing to me

– which obviously means it depends on the music – it can be inviting to move or calling to dance!

– the entire set of music that shag or boogie woogie or charleston or jive or east coast swing or rock’n’roll fits to calls me for a dance more often

– the entire set of music that lindy hop or balboa or west coast swing fits to calls me for a dance less often

– so the faster, the more upbeat, jazzy and dynamic music is the more it calls for dance

– and on these features nothing beats the stuff I have listened in my shag classes and parties

– shag is also pleasant to experience, because it is such a contrast!

– because it has the craziest stylings and it also is demanding on all fronts

– in swing dance events locally I see it rarely – few people and rarely are doing it

This is why I do shag – along with other swing dances. I am not saying what is better – it is no less enjoyable, for example, to do lindy hop moves and rhythms.

Probably should have edited and posted this in the morning. It is not smart to write this well past the midnight, but it takes time to calm down after the late shag class 🙂

-Vytautas Jakutis

I just find Shag joyful! I love the energy and although in theory it is challenging because of the fast tempo, it makes light work of fast songs compared to Lindy!

-Laurel Dougall

Shag is energetic and extrovert. Nothing brings you more joy than repeating many times the same out-in move, each time with more energy and power 😀 also the kind of expression in shag suits very well my character.

In comparison with Lindy Hop, for me shag is easier. In terms of leading/following, body posture and connection. It’s more strict, less complicated, which on the other hand makes it harder to improvise and can give less freedom for the follower. You have to put some effort to find the way to express yourself, by adding accents and connecting to the music using your whole body, but it’s definitely worth it! Your whole body! including your face! 🤪

-Cherry Moreno

Referring to the second question in the post – it seems to me that Shag is a dance in which you can easily give the style of another dance (for example, the elegance of a balboa or the strong connection and smoothness of LA style lindy) and it’s great fun when you can juggle different feelings within one dance when music changes during different parts of the song. Dancing Lindy hop also helps me a lot building ideas and repertoire in Shag … and vice versa.

Also – fast Shag feels and looks badass 😎

-Filip Górski

It brings me closer to the chickens.

-Sandy Lewis

Lindy is a good wine, shag is sparkling wine

-Samuel Gaudó Belarre



One thought on “Shag is Sparkling Wine

  1. Iñaki Soblechero says:

    I came to see what I said four and a half years ago and I’ll keep it shorter: shag is close and crazy. That’s all I need for certain songs.

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