We’re putting another year to bed. In 2017, beach music lovers look forward to another Spring and Fall migration called…”SOS” – The Society of Stranders, who journey to North Myrtle Beach…the Mecca of Beach Music. Who are these folks who fill hotel rooms and restaurants so they can dance to their favorite music, mostly from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s? They’re a cult of senior men and women who all like the same things…old hits, a beer, and shagging and line dancing the night away. 93 year old Len Gardner is seen nightly on the Fat Harold’s dance floor.

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The shag is not a ballroom dance. It’s a very subtle but complicated step, created for people with sand in their shoes, and a beer in their hand. These shag veterans will dance if you give them 8 square feet, even in a parking lot. I’ve always likened Main Street in NMB to a shortened Bourbon Street; bars, eating joints, music pouring out into the road. The food is not good at the dance halls, but the fans don’t come to eat. I’ve watched couples who like to shag for a long time. They and the band have a connection that is exceptional. They radiate happiness, and laugh, and do it for hours on end. If it’s a special day the women show up in costumes or funny hats. Husband and wife Shaggers do lots of other things well together…it appears. This gang is mostly over 50 and some way over…SOS really stands for “Sexy Old Seniors.”

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I think some of them were Hippies from the 60’s. A few veterans still sport tattoos and ponytails. They haven’t given it all up, and they’ll never give up their love of songs like: I Love Beach Music, Under The Boardwalk, 60 Minute Man, My Girl, My Lady Soul, Little Red Book, and 10 Ways of Loving You. Or bands like the Embers, Entertainers, Fantastic Shakers, Band of Oz, Coastline, and Black Water Rhythm & Blues.

The theme year round is…’hanging on to Summer’…eating BBQ…shrimp & grits…Krispy Kreme Donuts. Carolina rhythm and blues. Southern traditional beach music. 2017 get ready. Here we come!!

H A Thompson

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