Melbourne Shuffle is a rave / club dance that originated in the late 1980s in the underground rave music scene in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
The basic movements in the dance are a fast heel-and-toe action with a style suitable for various types of electronic music. Some variants incorporate arm movements. People who dance the shuffle are often referred to as rockers, due in part to the popularity of shuffling to rock music in the early 1990s.
The underlying dance moves involve the T-step, combined with a variation of the running man. The dance is improvised and involves "repeatedly shuffling your feet inwards, then outwards, while thrusting your arms up and down, or side to side, in time with the beat". 360-degree spins, jumps and slides are also incorporated. It is often associated with another style of dance, "cutting shapes."
Some dancers sprinkle talcum powder or apply liquid to the floor beneath their feet to help them slide more easily.
Shuffling originated from 'Stomping', which in turn originated from previous historical celtic dances. Stomping originally incorporated tap and traditional ballet -style foot shuffling. The clog and sword dance can easily be matched to some earlier experimental rave and club dance moves that evolved into Stomping.
Late 1980s–early 1990s
In the late '80s, the Melbourne Shuffle began to emerge as a distinct dance, incorporating more hand movement than its predecessor, Stomping. Breakbeat and techno music was gradually replaced with the more hardcore forms of rave music, such as hard trance. When b-boys started attending Shuffling dance events, they brought in their own set of hip hop dance moves, for example, the running man and gliding. Ever since these hip hop influences became predominant, the Melbourne Shuffle has also been practiced outside of raves (a characteristic of hip hop dance culture).
Where the Melbourne Shuffle was originally danced, the places were not considered to be named 'raves', but rather 'dance parties'.
A number of videos documenting the style during this era exist as the style increased in popularity. There are many variations of this dance but the main heel-to-toe movement remained the key motion, giving it the name "the Melbourne Shuffle". Notably arm-movements are much more prevalent than in later renditions of the dance.
In 2004 a documentary entitled Melbourne Shuffler began filming in Melbourne clubs, raves, festivals and outdoor events, before being released on DVD in 2005.
By 2005, the Melbourne Shuffle had helped to change the sound of hardstyle and hard trance music, with DJs and producers aiming at a constant 140-160bpm speed. By 2006, early hardstyle was largely replaced by nustyle and epic trance -influenced hard trance music at popular shuffling clubs and raves. Nustyle and the newer form of hard trance focused on swung euphoric orchestral-like trance melodies that would suddenly drop (such as by a house exciter) into a constant kick drum that was of preferable speed for shuffling to by the rockers.
In 2006 with the rising popularity of YouTube, dancers internationally now contribute to the Shuffle online, posting their own variations and learning from others. The German band Scooter featured the shuffle performed by veterans Missaghi "Pae" Peyman & Sarah Miatt in the video for the single J'adore Hardcore, which was partly filmed in Melbourne. As more people have practiced the dance, the dance itself has changed from the majority of hand movements over feet movements, to present day, where it is mostly based on keeping in time with bass beats.
In early to mid 2009 the infectious popularity of the Melbourne Shuffle on YouTube began to calm, but not die, bringing on a new age of shufflers. The dance began to revert back to what some people call "Oldschool". This reversion of shuffling consisted mostly of wide variations of the "T-Step" and minimal running man, and is accented by glides and spins. Although this may be referred to as "Oldschool" this new age of style is still very different from the way rockers in the '90s danced.
Many of the new wave of rockers perform in cypher. Some of the older and more experienced shufflers refer to the younger people of this new wave as teeny boppers (or 'TB(s)' for short), arguing that battling is not what shuffling is truly about. TBs are also generally described as being young people that are not old enough to attend raves, so they dance at school, in a street or in a park instead. Whereas individuals who participate in those aspects of the dance argue that enough of the current Shuffle scene is influenced by Hip Hop (such as the arguably widespread inclusion of the 'Running Man') that these activities are justified.
On June 21, 2011, the American electro-hop duo LMFAO released the album Sorry for Party Rocking. A single from that album, Party Rock Anthem (#1 on the US charts), makes multiple references to "shuffling" (The phrase, "Every day I'm shufflin" is heard two times in the song). The music video spoofs the UK movie 28 Days Later, with the dance being performed by a large group of people "infected" by the beat.
The origins of the name "Melbourne Shuffle" are unknown. The term was first brought to the public attention by Sonic Animation's Rupert Keiller during a TV interview in Sydney. The Age referred to it as looking like "a cross between the chicken dance and a foot stomping robot" to the untrained eye, but locals simply called it "stomping".
Some dancers sprinkle talcum powder or apply liquid to the floor beneath their feet to help them glide more easily, some including 360 degree spins or jumps into their moves. Others apply smooth plastic tape or duct tape to the soles of their shoes.
Originally consisting of the "T-Step" combined with arm movements, during recent years the "Running Man" has also been adopted into many common styles, accentuating the new focus of keeping time with the beat. The "Running man" involves a stomp forward followed by a single or double hop backwards with the same foot, the other foot repeats the action leading to a running-on-the-spot motion. The "T-Step" is a fast sideways heel-toe motion on one foot twisting at the ankle. The dance is embellished by spins, arm pumps, slides, and kicks.
The Melbourne Shuffle has its own set of moves incorporated into the running man (along with the other actual styles of the shuffle, such as t-step, l-step and stomping). One variation of the running man attributed to the Melbourne Shuffle features the dancer performing the solo 1920s charleston dance in the form of the running man (largely made popular by Leeroy Thornhill of The Prodigy). Many people have claimed both the running man and the Melbourne Shuffle as being invented by them, however, both the dances evolved between people in rave clubs and raves, etc., in the form of a street dance (which is not uncommon amongst hip hop, rave and other related dance music cultures).
Hardstyle is performed to music that features a fast 4/4 beat (also known as a 'four-on-the-floor' beat), and is normally accompanied by a heavy, booming (or hollow) bass. For this reason, many people in the US and Europe incorrectly refer to the "shuffle" as just "hardstyle". This is despite the term "hardstyle" being an umbrella term for many different rave dances globally, as well as a genre of electronic music. Hardstyle is a rave dance, while most other styles were typically performed in clubs and dance parties.
The Melbourne Shuffle dance style has remained relatively underground since its birth in the late '80s and early '90s. The term "Melbourne Shuffle" was recorded in the media when Sonic Animation's Rupert Keiller was interviewed by rage, an all night Australian music TV show. The interviewer asked Rupert what his unique style of dance was and the reply was "the Melbourne Shuffle". In December 2002 The Age, an Australian newspaper, made mention of the term in a front page article, attempting to illustrate what the popular Melbourne Shuffle was for the first time to the mainstream public.
Malaysian students studying in Melbourne originally learned the Melbourne Shuffle at local clubs and parties. They then showed people how to do it when they returned home.
Shufflers have taken their art form and self-expressive dance style overseas and are a regular sight to be seen at rave parties in the UK, Germany, Malaysia and also Thailand, where shufflers can be seen shuffling on the beaches of Koh Phangan during the Full Moon Beach Party. The internet has also been a factor in spreading knowledge and interest in the shuffle.
A documentary on the topic entitled Melbourne Shuffler was in production during 2004–2005 and was released in late 2005 on DVD. Another huge contributor to the fame and popularity of the Melbourne Shuffle is YouTube. Every shuffler and shuffle crew found themselves able to support the Melbourne Shuffle and show off their own style and moves; these videos captured everyone's attention.
On 6 September 2008, Network 10 had started filming footage at the Hard Style Dance (HSD) Nightclub for a documentary on the Melbourne Shuffle, but nothing was ever broadcast.
In November 2008, "So You Think You Can Shuffle", an Australian YouTube-based video voting competition website was launched, where Shufflers from around the country can showcase their dance skills, comment, and vote on other videos. Starting in 2009 "So You Think You Can Shuffle" also started hosting official shuffle meet-ups and competitions around Australia and Germany.
In December 2008, The Daily Mercury, a Queensland publication, reported on a story about the Melbourne Shuffle's presence in Mackay. It cited the city's high YouTube exposure when compared to other major cities in Queensland.
In 2009, MSO, a Melbourne-based company that produces robotics, rave clothing, music, and art began production on a documentary titled "GLOBAL SHUFFLE 1990:2010". Scheduled for release in 2011, the film contains rare footage from Melbourne's underground dance scene in the '90s and documents the invention and evolution of the Melbourne Shuffle. It will feature involvement from the likes of Dr3kar, Shifter Hardstyle Prodigy, Euphemism, Matthew Moyle, Television Unlimited and Global Village.
The official music video for The Black Eyed Peas single "The Time" briefly features dancers (including apl.de.ap himself) in a night club performing the Melbourne Shuffle.
The Electro Hop group LMFAO featured several electro house dancers performing the shuffle in their "Party Rock Anthem" music video. LMFAO also organized an online shuffle contest for their video, the winner appeared in their Party Rock Anthem video. LMFAO are seen doing the Shuffle in the music videos for their singles Champagne Showers and Sexy and I Know It.