The man whose name is on the marquee has died. Fat Harold Bessant died on May 21st after a long illness at the age of 81.
He was absent from the Mecca for a long time, but Fat Harold’s drew the fans. Fat Harold’s Beach Club has a jukebox like entrance and you can hear the music long before your get to the place. It’s sort of a ‘church’ where people come to worship music and dance. It’s the home of song, smiles, and communication. That’s what dancing is about. Nowhere else have I seen more happy people in one place at the same time. North Myrtle Beach is the town and Fat Harold’s is the magnet where the Shag dance was put on display by mostly senior couples. Regulars go to Fat Harold’s all the time.
93 year old Len Gardner, a Battle of the Bulge veteran of WWII, shows up 3 or 4 nights a week and dances for 3 hours with a different woman every time. Couples hold hands and touch each other like lovers in Fat Harold’s. The music never stops at Fat Harold’s and you remember all the songs. DJ’s some nights….others feature bands like The Embers, Fantastic Shakers, and the Entertainers. Line Dancing is popular, especially with the girls. A lot of people go just to ‘spectate’ and listen. The ‘watchers’ are smiling just like the dancers. Fat Harold’s Beach Club is about history. Lots of Shag fans have come and gone, but they are not forgotten. Pictures cover every square inch of the walls remembering the talented dance champions. Fat Harold’s has a grill and plenty of drinks, but they don’t come for that. Fat Harold Bessant did nostalgia better than anyone else. The man is gone, but not the name or the fun. Harold Bessant, thank you for the legacy you left. The music, the friends, the memories. We have found another ‘Land of Oz’…….Fat Harold’s Beach Club.
H.A. (I Love Beach Music) Thompson