Every year at the end of April, thousands of people begin to migrate toward the Grand Strand at Myrtle Beach. This is not your usual beach party, however, as these seemingly-normal people are actually members of the SOS, the legendary Society of Stranders, a group that annually repeats the traditions that first began in 1980. Included in the society are the Shaggers, those that return year after year to perform the Carolina Shag.
The event began when former life guard and self-proclaimed beach bum, Gene Laughter, contrived an ingenious plan to invite former lifeguards, stranders and beach bums for the ultimate beach party. Armed with an antique bottle and a piece of parchment, Laughter penned a riddle and tossed it out into the ocean. When the bottle was found, several museums believed its authenticity, gaining the note national attention. When a DJ solved the puzzle and publicized that the riddle was actually an invitation, about 5,000 shaggers and stranders appeared for one of the best adult parties to grace the sandy shore.
Since SOS I, several things have changed, but the beach party spirit remains. The SOS Spring Safari honors the beginning of spring in SOS style. Popular bands begin to congregate along Main Street, shag dance instructors open their doors to the populace, and shag dancing takes place anywhere and everywhere in the area. The party goes on well into the night, with clubs along Maine and Ocean Drive celebrating the event.
On the last Saturday of SOS, beach bums, stranders, shaggers and newbies gather on Maine Street for the Association of Carolina Shag Club’s parade. The shaggers design and build the floats that then compete for “best shag theme” and “most original float.”
Become an SOS member and have the beach party of a lifetime from April 20th to the 29th at Myrtle Beach! Book a hotel in the midst of the action, at Best Western Grand Inn and Suites or Ocean Forest Plaza, both right on the Grand Strand. When you’re not out doing the shag, check out some of the local attractions, like the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, Hard Rock Café, Pirate’s Voyage and Legends in Concert, all of which are less than five miles from the aforementioned hotels.