ANDERSON -- Gladys Makison didn't have on fancy sandals when walked into the Pavilions Beach Club and Grill near Clemson Boulevard. Instead her feet were clad in a tan leather shoes that hugged her feet. The shoes didn't have heels, but flat leather soles instead.
The rest of her outfit was simple, but classy.
She wore clay red capris, a printed bloused with matching colors of yellow, tan and that same clay red. Small red discs dangled from her ears on little silver links. She stood in the middle of a square wooden stage as the soft, sweet rhythm of Carolina beach music filled the room.
She moved her feet quickly, keeping in time with the music. Her eyes glanced down at her feet and then she looked up at her partner and flashed a high-wattage smile.
This is her place, even at 83. And this is a dance she knows like a teacher knows her subject.
"We call her the Mother of the Electric City Shag Club," club member Mary Ann McBride said.
Indeed, she is.
On this recent evening, she walked the tables, bending down to plant kisses on cheeks of friends. She passed out hugs. Like a butterfly she buzzed around the crowd, stopping for moments of chatter and friendly laughs.
Gladys Makison and her husband, Ed, were the only ones teaching Andersonians the shag South Carolina's official state dance for years. And Gladys and Ed were among the 12 who gathered at Don and Frances' Thackston's house to form the Electric City Shag Club in February 1987.
Twenty-three years later, the club has more than 300 members. And Ed and Gladys taught at least 500 people to dance the shag in their classes.
"They taught an awful lot of people," said Jack Moore. "I've known Gladys and Ed for years and I made them tapes so they could teach shag lessons. Everybody loves them to death because they love the dance so much. Money never entered into it for them."
Yes, they charged for lessons, Gladys said.
But McBride was quick to point out that there were many people that this couple pulled off a corner chair and onto the dance floor over the years all for free.
"They always shared what they knew," McBride said.
They'd pass on the steps whether it was in a class or to a friend they'd just met on the dance floor. For nearly 30 years, Gladys and Ed taught dance lessons on the weekends when they weren't working their full-time jobs or raising their family.
Their connection to the dance floor started much earlier, however.
In their teenage years, they enjoyed a night out dancing. Before they were a couple, Ed and his brothers made trips to Lavonia to go square dancing. It was how the younger generation got together then in the 1940s. It was in that era of innocence that Gladys and Ed met.
Their first date was on her 18th birthday, Gladys said. Two years later, they were married.
Dancing remained part of their life. It was something they enjoyed doing together.
In the 1970s, they started taking ballroom dancing classes at the Coleman Recreation Center in downtown Anderson. Then they learned the shag.
"Once we learned the shag, we forgot about ballroom dancing," Gladys said. "It was so much fun."
Soon every Wednesday night they were headed to Todd's Lounge, at the Holiday Inn on Clemson Boulevard.
Then the hotel was across the street from McDonalds in the Belvedere Shopping Center.
"This was part of our life," Gladys said. "Anything that kept us together, I loved it."
Her recipe for a happy marriage worked. They raised four boys and were together for 58 years until he died in 2005.
Now, about once a month, Gladys makes the trip from her Hartwell Lake home to Pavilion's restaurant and lounge in Anderson. And she makes sure to show that she's still got her rhythm and she's not scared to put on her shagging shoes.