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Legislators Promenade Proposed State Dance

February 14, 1991

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ North Carolina’s General Assembly adopted a state boat, beverage and dog in the 1980s, and now may step on some toes while it embarks on a search for an official state dance.

The steel taps of more than two dozen clog dancers clattered their challenge for the title on the Legislative Building’s granite plaza Wednesday. And state Rep. Bertha Holt has already joined state Sen. Herbert Hyde in filing a bill to make clogging the state dance.

But among those waiting in the wings is state Rep. Dave Redwine, whose bid to make the shag - a regional beach dance - the state dance failed last session. Later, a neighboring state made the shag its state symbol.

″South Carolina stole it from us,″ Redwine said. ″I still think the shag ought to be the state dance.″

State symbols have often created controversy and humor in the General Assembly. A bill to make collards the state vegetable bogged down when it ran afoul of the sweet potato industry. And the late Sen. Jim Ezzell drew laughter when he created a bogus bill to make the chitlin North Carolina’s official hors d’oeuvre.

Legislators also take flak from those who point out the state is already awash in symbols: a state bird, the cardinal; flower, the dogwood; insect, honey bee; tree, long leaf pine; mammal, gray squirrel; shell, Scotch bonnet; salt-water fish, channel bass; precious stone, emerald; reptile, eastern box turtle; rock, granite; dog, Plott hound; beverage, milk; and even boat, the shad boat.

Ms. Holt said she would welcome any broadsides fired by advocates of other dances.

″It will only draw more attention to dance,″ she said. ″It sure is better for young people to be dancing than to be watching television.″

″We need to be interested in dance,″ she said. ″It is good exercise. ... It’s interesting, historic and it relieves stress.″

Clogging is popular throughout the Appalachians. There are 2,000 cloggers in North Carolina and the dance is performed as far away as Japan and South Korea, said Chip Futrell, a North Carolina State University student and president of the N.C. Clogging Council.

″It began in this state 200 years ago,″ Futrell said. ″It is the only dance that is native to this state.″

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