Shag is performed in a slot. What I mean by this is that you do not dance around on the floor. Instead the couple dances as if on a diving board and that diving board is orientated in a North-South or East-West position. During the dance, the orientation of your diving board seldom if ever changes.

The Shag is a male lead dance. This presents a challenge to the male to be deciding on what will happen next, prepare the lead, and give that lead all while still completing the current dance step! The challenge to the female may be even greater because she must receive his lead signal and be prepared to follow it all in a scant beat of music. This means she must be very attentive and ready to respond.

The man needs to learn to give his hand signals during the five and six beat. This will allow time to react. It is too late to suddenly signal a girl at beat #1. Late signals are the hallmark of an inexperienced male dancer. Giving the lead signals early enough and in a clear manner is the most important part of male lead technique.

Both the male and the female should develop a gentle yet FIRM arm while dancing. Girls, if you have a loose flop-around arm you are no fun to dance with and nearly impossible to lead. Also never pull on your partner more than a few ounces as you complete your steps. Heavy pulling tells me I have a lazy or non responsive partner and it prevents me from giving lead signals during that five-six beat.

Some swing dances utilize a hard push-pull between the couple on the five-six beat. THE SHAG DOES NOT.

Here is an example of a male leading the Female Under Arm Turn: The signal for a female under arm turn is to pull her hand up to your right shoulder during the five-six beats. By the start of the next basic her hand should be at your shoulder. Never attempt to put your hand over her head and crank her around as she turns! Instead, your partner will push your hand up and over her own head as she completes her turn. This shows how a man can lead the lady yet allow her control of her own dance.

Basic Male Lead/Female Follow Techniques
a OneMinute Shag lesson from