Fat Harold's is more than just another beach-music dance club; it's a living testament to another time on Ocean Drive, and this North Myrtle Beach institution keeps it alive today.
Although it has changed locations since opening in 1962, Fat Harold's remains a fixture in the downtown district and continues its commitment to preserving the Carolina shag dance craze.
Generations of teenagers and college kids have flocked to North Myrtle Beach to swing to the tunes and dance above the dunes on the sand-covered boardwalks and sawdust-coated dance floors of Fat Harold's.
Today, the same kids who cut a rug here a half-century ago return to take a stroll down memory lane at the many shag festivals and SOS (Society of Shaggers) retreats.
And their children and grandchildren check out the scene to see the place their elders have talked about. It truly is a legendary establishment that transcends generations and keeps the spirit of the dance and beach lifestyle alive.
This museum of beach music is the lifework of Harold Bessent, aka the King of the Shag and The Fat Man, who passed away in May 2015 after years and years of work in the Shagging community.
His dance club is like a South Carolina version of “Cheers,” where everybody knows everybody's name. But the locals and regulars are very welcoming to first-time visitors, even offering to teach newcomers the shag.
Live beach music plays on a regular basis and the dance floor is always open as long as someone has enough quarters to fill the juke box.
Of course, all that dancing can make a body hungry, and Fat Harold's has the cure in the Shag City Grill. Nothing fancy here, but great burgers and hot dogs fresh off the grill and French fries and chicken wings out of the deep-fryer.
The house special is the Fried Bologna sandwich, topped with mustard, onions, slaw, BBQ sauce and whatever other toppings you feel like wiping off your chin.
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