Dancing Like A Local

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From shagging on the beach to doing the Charleston by the Battery, the Lowcountry is the perfect setting for putting some swing in your step! It’s time to dust off your dancing shoes and learn about some of the Holy City’s most popular dances to avoid stepping on any feet at your next Southern soirée.

The Carolina Shag: A Southern Staple

Designated as South Carolina’s official State Dance in 1984, the shag is a six-count step dance typically done with a partner to the tune of beach music. The term was coined by cities along the South Carolina shore in the 1940’s and its dance moves descended from a dance called “Little Apple” which originated in Columbia, South Carolina. Shag dancing is one of the most casual dances, one that you can swing to on the beach without spilling your drink. When dressing for the occasion, keep it casual and stick to flip flops, button downs, khaki’s and skirts.

Concierge tip: Want to put your shagging skills to the test? Beginning in April, Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission hosts “Shaggin’ on the Cooper” at the Mount Pleasant Pier every Friday evening (pictured above).

The Charleston: A Piece of History

The Charleston, as presumed, coined its name right here in the Holy City. The fast-paced swing dance rose to fame after appearing in the Broadway musical “Runnin’ Wild” in 1923 and triumphed the Roaring Twenties, becoming one of the most popular dances at the time. The dance is accompanied by ragtime jazz music and is in quick four by four step counts with syncopated rhythms, incorporating quick feet movements and swaying arms. The Charleston can be done alone, with a partner or with a larger group, and the common attire is a suit for men and flapper-style dresses for women. Although the Charleston is not as common today, it remains a cultural trademark of the Jazz age in the Lowcountry and the flappers who so often danced the flamboyant movements to jazzy beats.

Practice your moves using these step-by-step videos for learning The Shag and The Charleston.

 

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Hollywood in the Holy City

Perhaps it is the dreamy backdrop of a Lowcountry landscape or the history that prevails in the architecture of its remarkable buildings. Whatever it may be, there is simply something about Charleston that seems to capture the attention of Hollywood directors and viewers across America. From popular love stories to iconic war movies and even new television series, Charleston has become a Hollywood hot spot for storytelling on the big screen. The next time you’re in Charleston, see if you recognize any of the backdrops from these famous films.

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1. The Notebook (2004):

The Notebook, a 1940’s romantic drama based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks, gained much appraisal after its release ten years ago and is still considered a classic and timeless film. Most of us are familiar with the complicated love story of Allie and Noah, but did you know that nearly the entire movie was filmed in South Carolina? Many parts of downtown Charleston and surrounding areas can be seen in The Notebook, with some of its most memorable scenes taking place right on King Street.

Notable Filming Locations: The American Theatre, Upper King Street, Seabrook Island, The College of Charleston Campus, Boone Hall Plantation (shown above and below), the Calhoun Mansion, Old Village and Cypress Gardens.

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2. Dear John (2010):

The charming streets of Charleston and the beachy, laid-back vibe of Sullivan’s Island creates the perfect scenery for Dear John, another popular romance movie based off of a novel by Nicholas Sparks. Though parts of the movie were filmed on nearby Edisto Island, SC and Oak Island, NC, a majority of the scenes were shot right here in Charleston.

Notable Filming Locations: Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, Bowen’s Island Restaurant, The College of Charleston Campus and Cassina Point Plantation.

3. The Patriot (2000):

While Charleston does serve as quite the romantic setting, movies such as The Patriot showcase the Holy City in a much different light, utilizing the historic backdrop to bring historic war battles to life. Many of the characters in this American Revolutionary War film were based on real heroes of the war, including Andrew Pickens, Francis Marion, Daniel Morgan and Thomas Sumter.

Notable Filming Locations: The College of Charleston Campus, Cypress Gardens and Middleton Place (shown below).

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4. Cold Mountain (2003):

Cold Mountain, another popular war film, is based on the bestselling novel by Charles Frazier and follows a wounded soldier’s treacherous journey home. The star-studded cast includes big names such as Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger, Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Philip Seymour Hoffman and uses Charleston as a “town hall” setting.

Notable filming locations: Downtown Charleston, The College of Charleston Campus (shown below).

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5. Army Wives (TV Series, 2007-2013)

This popular Lifetime series was initially based off of a novel by Tanya Blank titled “Army Wives: the Unwritten Code of Military Marriage.” The television series acquired such a loyal following that it amounted to seven seasons, with the series ending last September.

Notable filming locations: Charleston Air Force Base in North Charleston, River Front Park in North Charleston and the Charleston Naval Base.

6. Reckless (TV Series, 2014-present )

The cast from CBS’s newest drama, Reckless, have been spotted on many occasions around downtown Charleston. The series premiered in June and uses Charleston’s sultry scenery and charm to complement the scandalous storyline.

Notable Filming locations: The “Four Corners of Law” at the intersection of Broad Street and Meeting Street (Charleston City Hall shown below), South Battery homes and The College of Charleston Campus.

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Concierge Tip: Take a day trip to Cypress Gardens, Boone Hall Plantation, or Middleton Place to learn more about the historic settings that have recently acquired fame thanks to these star-studded films. Looking to stay in the Peninsula? Our concierge team has provide a map here with the sites that have been featured in movies and TV shows listed above, without stepping a foot outside of downtown Charleston!

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Haint Blue and its Historic Ties

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If you have ever strolled through the charming streets of downtown Charleston, it is likely that you’ve caught a glimpse of the soft blue paint that graces the ceilings of the Holy City’s most iconic porches. From some of the most historic houses in the Lowcountry to modern single family homes, ceilings splashed with shades of “haint blue” have become increasingly prevalent throughout the years. While some believe the purpose behind the colorful accent is simply to create a charming appearance and a relaxing ambiance, others believe the baby blue ceilings represent an anecdote of historical (and spooky) significance.

 Now mimicked by paint companies, the first ever haint blue color is said to have originated from Gullah Culture in the Carolinas hundreds of years ago. The Gullah people created the faded blue color using a mixture of milk, indigo dye, lime, and other pigments on hand. Although there is no real evidence to support it, many Southerners claim that haint blue also has the ability to banish bugs, a reputation likely stemming from the original integration of lime, a natural insect repellent.

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Legend has it that painting porch ceilings, door frames, and window frames with a coat of the light blue color will protect homeowners by chasing away haints, or evil, restless spirits who have yet to move on from the physical world. While this might sound far-fetched, don’t be too quick to rule it out as a myth. In a historically haunted city such as Charleston, many local homeowners still believe there to be some truth in this longstanding tradition.

Superstitions aside, many people opt for the calming blue color on porch ceilings as a way to imitate the sky, extend daylight hours, and create a tranquil setting for an area often intended for rest and relaxation. Whatever the true purpose behind it may be, it is Southern traditions such as this that make Charleston so extraordinary!

Concierge Tip: Stop into the Calhoun Mansion on 16 Meeting Street between 11am and 5pm for a tour of the largest private residence in Charleston. Learn more about the home and its haint blue porch ceilings or follow this walking route to see more examples.

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