I recently had the privilege of meeting Harry Turner, a music historian who wrote the book, “This Magic Moment.” He presented me with a signed copy and I can’t put it down. Every page evokes memories of my youth, memories of growing up on the coast of South Carolina and the music that people of all races shared and loved.
Growing up here in the 1950s and 60s brought music into my life that I still love today. If I hear “Nip Sip” by the Clovers, my brain sends a message to my feet to start shaggin’. If I hear “Walking the Dog” by Rufus Thomas, or “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-DEE” by Sticks McGhee, the same thing happens.
In Georgetown, Pawleys Island, the Pawleys Island Pavilion, shaggin’, and beach music were all intertwined.
What was the first dance we learned? ‘The Shag’, of course. We had a chest freezer at our house with a handle that was long enough for my brother and me to hold onto simultaneously and practice our shag steps. “Step-two, one-two-three, drop-back.” We practiced so much we could do it in our sleep.
Learning to shag was as important as learning to swim or hit a basket from the free throw line. Sometimes, it even took precedence over schoolwork, which was a no-no, as I found out the hard way.
In the sixth grade, a male classmate and I were sitting at our desks, the top half of our bodies paying attention to the teacher, but our feet moving to imaginary beach music. We were practicing a very intricate shag step when the teacher noticed us. We had to stay after school and write “I will not shag in class” one hundred times. What? Did she have no appreciation for rhythm?
This was all in anticipation of being old enough to go to the Pawleys Island Pavilion to hang out and dance. This was truly a rite of passage and we prepared for it, hangin’ onto that freezer handle and concentrating on our steps. It’s a wonder the handle didn’t pop off after the workout we gave it.
There were four Pawleys Island Pavilions through the years, the first three being on the south causeway.
They were closed or destroyed over the years and the one our generation attended opened in 1960 on the north causeway.
We had ten wonderful years there. When the pavilion burned to the ground in 1970, many of us mourned the loss of a magical place and time that could never be duplicated.
Last night I read through my old yearbooks from Winyah High School.
The end-of-year messages that classmates wrote in my books often read, “See ya at the beach this summer.”
The beach, of course, was Pawleys Island.
Others mentioned the pavilion. In 1965, Mike Ray wrote, “This summer I am going to take you to the pavilion to show you how it is.”
In 1966, Greg Dibiase wrote, “I hope we’ll see each other this summer, especially at the pavilion. Man, can that girl ‘shag’.”
(That was from dancing with the freezer handle for so many years, Greg.)
Also in 1966, Patsy Kimbrough wrote, “Have fun at the beach and the pavilion this summer.”
My best friend, Jeannie Summers wrote, “What about the good times we have had at the pavilion so far this year? I loved the Four Tops and I am just keeping my fingers crossed about the Tams.”
Patrice Bourne wrote, “We’ll have to go to the pavilion more and even the Beach Club!”
The Pawleys Island Pavilion Reunion, “Let the Good Times Roll, Again”, is being held on Saturday, May 12, from 6:30 ‘til midnight. This is a fundraising event for Habitat for Humanity.
For more information, call 843-546-5685, ext. 6.
To Harry Turner and the Pawleys Island Pavilion … thanks for the memories!
I may be reached at (843) 446-4777 or email me: email@example.com.
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