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History of Melbourne Shuffle & My Background

 This website and history will constantly be updated over time the more information that I find out and come across. If you see anything that looks weird, glitched or you want me to add in some information or you see something that is possibly incorrect or lacking, Please email me at @empowermelbourneshuffle@gmail.com

Thank you and enjoy. 

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If you are going to teach and represent something, it is important to state the facts and history while staying close to the roots. The last thing I want to see is a misrepresentation of this dance which I have come to love so much, so this is why I have made a history tab. 

I have been dancing my whole life, this is the 3rd style of dance I have learned over the years and have stuck with the longest. It is highly addictive!

In the 1980’s one of the coolest underground dances was manifesting and would define generations in Melbourne, Australia. With time, it would end up all over the world. It is called the “Melbourne Shuffle.” It was not always called this though, and it had many names before this. It also looked much different than it does today. Although the Melbourne Shuffle is a freestyle dance, the fundamentals of it have never changed and that is why I am here to preserve and share the dance to its fullest extent. It has attracted the masses and has been labeled “the dance of Melbourne, Australia.” 

Be careful because once you start, it is hard to stop…

Melbourne Shuffle comes from the underground rave culture but stems from many centuries ago - the roots run deep. The word “Rave” itself stems back decades. In the 1940’s, people used the term “Rave-up” and in the 1950’s it became hipper to say “Rave” instead. It has been that way ever since.

Rave, to me, means one big dance party - but it has many definitions.

I will dive deeper into rave culture in a later post, as it is an especially important part of this dance, but for now I want to talk strictly about the roots and history of the dance so you can get a basic understanding of it.

We are taking it back to the late 1700’s and the 1800’s. During this time, clans of Celtic, Scottish, Irish, and English descent were either forced out of their homes or they were burned to the ground in the Highland Clearances, located in the Scottish Highlands and islands in the northern United Kingdom. Rich landowners from the north cleared the clans from their own homes by destroying everything they owned. Why? It is no surprise that it was for the benefit of the rich, as they cleared space for sheep farming. This was to increase their income, of course.

The clans became immigrants. This forced them to pay much higher rents in other areas, or move and find a new home in far away places like San Francisco, New York, parts of Canada, and Melbourne, Australia!

Why is this important? The Welsh, who are members of the Celtic ethnic group, loved to Clog dance (you know, like the wooden shoes?) and the Welsh seaman would dance on wooden hulls of their ships and boats in wooden clogs. Clog means “time” in Celtic language, as well as “a lump of wood.” “Time” in this context referred to keeping in time with the music when dancing. The clogs were like the percussion.​

The Melbourne Shuffle gets its core steps from clogging.

This dance was typically done on wooden floors in seaport bars to village fairs.

Clog dancing is also known as Step dancing, Irish dance, and Stomping. Old school Melbourne Shufflers called themselves Stompers, at one point it was also called rocking or the rocker style.

 (Fun fact, I am of Irish descent so it makes sense why I am here right now. It is in my blood to dance!)

By being forced to immigrate to other countries, the clans brought their heritage and culture with them and spread it all over the world, which is crazy when you think about it. We may not be having this discussion had that not happened.

Clogging or stomping as it was called locally was the standard dance style in Melbourne for much of the 1960’s to 1980’s as a traditional folk dance. It became popular in the folk revival years. It also stemmed from other folk dances in Australia such as Barn Dancing, The Heel, and Toe Polka.

 

Now onto the modern-day Melbourne Shuffle: There were parties called “Bush Doofs'' that emerged in the early 1990’s, while similar dance parties were being held in the warehouses of Sydney’s industrial areas. These were inspired by the explosion of acid house and electronica in British warehouse parties during that same era. The Bohemian inner-west began to attract too much attention from police and local councils. 

During a similar time in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s, the Melbourne Rave scene was born. Licensed club raves became a thing. It was legal to have raves in clubs (Imagine that!) Huge influences during this period were people like Leroy Thornhill of the infamous band, Prodigy (they are still around today. Leroy is not a part of the band anymore but is still in communication with the rest of the members.) He was a keyboardist and raver who shuffled up on stage while performing. This entranced people, and they would replicate and express their own style on the dance floor. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WY87o9IZXWg

Another influence was the genre, New Jack swing, or Swing Beat. This is a fusion genre that fuses the rhythms and production techniques of hip-hop and dance pop with the urban contemporary sound of R&B, which were most popular in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Northern Soul is a music and dance movement that emerged in Northern England and English Midlands in the late 1960’s from the British Mod scene. It was based on a particular style of Black American soul music from the mid 1960’s with a heavy beat and fast tempo of 100 beats per minute and above. This American soul music came from northern cities such as Detroit, Chicago and others. (This is what I listened to growing up as my father ran his own hotrod car show meetups and had an ice cream trailer that housed a fully functioning, full size Jukebox, it would play 50’s and 60’s records (Northern Music) and as a child I would dance to this nostalgic music. Now I run my own shuffle meetups with my crew, @Kineticamity, where we play some similarly inspired music.)

Acid House Music was another big influence in 1989-1990 and was even on a radio show called Rhythmatic, which played House and Techno. This was huge for the shuffle and rave scene. Acid house music had a huge role in the underground scene in both Melbourne and the UK. This genre helped define a generation in the late 1980’s and 1990’s. (I will also go over this in a later post.)

Raving from the late 1990’s onward was beginning to be commercialized into the early 2000’s and by this point, people knew the dance officially as the Melbourne Shuffle now.

Fashion

Shufflers in Melbourne wore event merch such as PHD (Pure Hard Dance), Hard Kandy, Bass Station, and more. Phat pants or (Phats) for short completed the lower half of the body. These pants come all the way down to the ground and have a wide bottom, which when shuffling makes it look like you are gliding across the floor. This adds to the magic or allusion.

 Here is a link to the website: http://www.pureharddance.com/

These hoodies are collected as trophies and for memorabilia sake by Shufflers and PHD connoisseurs. The ones made back in the day are extremely rare and can be hard to find. To rock one of these you generally have to be in the culture and a part of the lifestyle. Consider it an honor to represent and sport one of these out in public or on the dance floor.

Hats have always been worn, of course, and they would pull off some mesmerizing tricks.

This was also a big part of the rocker lifestyle. People also had their hair spiked (as did I) in the 1990’s.

People also wore flashy material and dark clothes. White shoes were the preferred color because in the clubs you could see your feet moving. And flat soles on the bottom as grip made it hard to move around. Talcum or baby powder was used to help smooth the surface out, which made it nice to shuffle on.

 

People, Culture & Mentions in Media

Jack 40k - This guy made a series of shuffle compilations 13 years ago as of writing this. These videos host raw footage of shufflers and meetups. His page boasts 45+ million views! The 3rd compilation at the time was one of the most popular videos that exposed a lot of people to shuffling. There are now 7 Compilations total on his YouTube page. This will give you a great perspective of what the scene looked like back then. Give them a watch here: https://www.youtube.com/c/jack40k/videos 

 

The Melbourne Shuffle was featured during the early days in a newspaper in Australia called “The Age” which was big for the dance. It was being talked about online, in forums, and the dance / rave scene even appeared in a movie called “One Perfect Day” which came out in 2004.

Before this boiling point in the late 1990’s, underground raves stopped because of many factors, including heavy policing, new laws, it became too mainstream, people were in debt from throwing massive warehouse parties, there were too many I O U’s and the rave scene, and it just sadly burned out. But Shuffling, however…lived on, as well as all the genres and styles that came with It.

(Which was Good News!)

Through the mid 2000’s, Shuffling spread up the east coast from New South Wales, Queensland and Regional Victoria. Exhibitions were held at nightclubs. People would literally go to watch people shuffle and dance, and there were specific clubs dedicated to hard dance music, which was pretty cool.

Shuffling at this time, now was called “Old school style.”

 

Around 2005 -2006 was when the priceless Melbourne shuffler documentary came out during what is affectionately known as the YouTube Era. This documentary is loaded with juicy facts on raving and Melbourne shuffling. (I recommend you go and watch it after this, I have watched it at least 10 times, it is addicting) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7frKDtfI6E&t=284s

During this time, Shufflers became savvy with camcorders and early cell phones that had the ability to record. Imagine Instagram today but on YouTube back then. There are hundreds of thousands of videos on the web of some amazing shufflers.

Another highly praised influence from YouTube was a man named Milan, or “Big Milan”. He went out of his way to spread his love for the dance and came out with some of the first tutorials known to YouTube. One of his tutorials has over 8 million views! They are still there today.

Here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3evoNeD45g&list=PL86956CB1C56AA9D9

Rocking style was created during this time.

We will go over this more in a later tutorial, but for the record - rocking is not a move.

Rocking is a lifestyle that has been developed from shuffling. 

It does have a heavy use of Tstep and rocking back and forth from side to side. To me, it is the essence of the Melbourne Shuffle. 

Pae and Sarah videos: Shufflers from Melbourne, Australia posted a video of themselves shuffling together and performing the Melbourne shuffle in a choreograph routine. This went viral and still to this day people look up to them. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDsDOlfz-QU

2007- As mentioned earlier, Jack40k’s compilation videos exploded on the web and Melbourne Shuffle was global.

There was a dedicated Melbshuffle.com page but the domain rights came and went, it is currently active and has loads of cool merchandise if you are ever interested check out the site. https://shop.spreadshirt.com/melbshuffle/

2008- This was known as the first boom in the Shuffle world, with the most relevant and active scenes outside of Australia and Malaysia (which developed its own style rumored from Melbourne Shuffling) Other active countries were the USA, Brazil, Germany, Singapore, Russia, South Korea, China. Things were starting to heat up. As well as the global explosion of rocking.

2009- Both Pae and Sarah were also in a Music video by the German Hard dance group “Scooter”. This video garnered over 40 Million views. The song was called J’adore Hardcore. A lot of people had caught on to what Shuffling was at this point and the momentum could not be contained. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eNxZN3oquw 

 

2011-2012 is known as the 2nd boom in the shuffle world. With the release of the artist /singer LMFAO’s ‘Party Rock Anthem’ clip, this put shuffling on the map but was a slap in the face to Melbourne Shuffle as it was a misrepresentation to the dance. It was treated as a trend BUT as I mentioned earlier, it is in fact a dance and has a huge culture and history behind it, however... this did bring some exposure to the scene in Melbourne and other countries as well.

This was also the rise of competitions / tryouts and crews. To name a few that are still active as of 13 years now: KC, FTS, BC, and Hard Style Republic. Very impressive to be running this long.

Online reputation became a thing, as well as the creation of shuffling styles such as: (Hard styling) AKA “AUS”, MAS (Malaysian style), CALI (California Style), and RUS (Russian style).

There is also another style of shuffle, Spanish shapes or cutting shapes which over in the Europe they call it Shuffling. There is some confusion over this but it is it's own style just like Melbourne shuffle is it's own style.

They both have been confirmed to fall under the Umbrella of Shuffle. 

K-pop groups started using Shuffle in their music videos. This became popular in their culture and the edits were super well done.

2015 - This is known as the third boom in the shuffle world. The birth of Melbourne Rave style was born (some would not call this shuffling, but it is the name it was given. It was like…. a half shuffle)

Decay of many scenes around the world had happened during this time, including the Melbourne scene. For a lot of people, it was treated like a fad or a trend unfortunately, but there were OG’s who stuck with it for the long run and never stopped, this is a real dance 100% And it's only just getting started.

 

Instagram is the main source for communicating and video spreading nowadays. This lead the way to improve and spread the dance and other dance styles.

To name a few shufflers that really blew up in the early days of the gram and became Instagram famous, in the U.S. Were people like 2PULL, GabbyJDavid, Ecruz_n, Abby_La_Flakka, Van Secco and more. There is an uprising in massive female presence, which is much different than before as the dance was mostly dominated by males. Females naturally have a bigger presence when it comes to social media these days but there are plenty of well known shufflers  and such as BOOM BOX the shuffler, Francis Vo and many many more of the PHD members and OG's that were the figure heads back in the day (before Instagram) like Pae and Sarah mentioned above as well as crews that came before Instagram as well. 

 

2017-2019 Shuffling is in many parts of the world, and at this point, it was still spreading and evolving in other countries but especially in some states in the USA such as the Mecca (California), but also growing in Arizona, Chicago, Texas, Florida, New York, Nevada, DMV, Hawaii, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and more. Massive tryouts for crews all over the world were exploding, and the online presence has exponentially grown by this point on Instagram. With festivals happening all over the world, it was a good time to be Shuffler.

 

2020-Late February / March COVID crises. People are on lockdown, dubbing the name, “Quarantine Shufflers” because people literally had nothing to do while on lockdown.

The evolution of shuffling and other styles takes off on Tik-Tok, and an unprecedented amount of people of all ages began to learn the Melbourne Shuffle (and many other footwork styles now). Kids on Tiktok might literally have no idea there is such thing as a Shuffle community on Instagram unless they meet someone through a hashtag or word of mouth. They have their own community on Tiktok on the other hand. The shuffle community that once was a tiny blip is now tens of thousands to possibly hundreds of thousands of people now. It is uncertain to know just how many people are shufflers today. 

 

 Shuffle Wisdom was born later in 2020, giving shufflers and influencers a bigger platform to showcase the dance. Commercialization of shuffling is at a boiling point now and ready to explode to the masses as EDM is also coming more into the lime light in the U.S.

2021- Shuffle Wisdom 2.0 launches, 

Prediction: the 3rd Summer of Love is coming (I will go over this more later) and the 4th Boom in the Shuffling world is upon us as we speak. Possible revival of Melbourne Shuffling to Melbourne Australia…pending. BC Francis, Big Milan, and Jesse Dawson start hosting Shuffle meetups again in Melbourne Australia… Progress and revival is being made to bring Melbourne Shuffling back to it's true birth place (Melbourne Australia)

Stay tuned...

SPECIAL THANKS to GAARA (Brandon) And Francis Vo for their insight, knowledge, and training.

Without them I would not be where I am today. Thank you. <3

I have done my research and studied up on hours and hours of footage and information of this dance and culture. A lot this I had to find out myself and research. I want to make this information available and known for people that want to learn this dance the culture and why we do it.

More sources below

Melbourne Shuffle Documentary (MUST WATCH) A must watch if you have not seen. 

https://youtu.be/i7frKDtfI6E

Leroy Thornhill below

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prodigy

Other webpages with history on Melbourne Shuffle

https://melbourneshuffle.org/

https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-is-the-melbourne-shuffle-dance.html

Hardstyle Shuffle (AUS) 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ocYnKt8uLA

Malaysian Shuffle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvnw-jtlDyI

Cali Shuffle 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsREvcrv4Ng

What is Northern Soul?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_soul

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2NySUcbv3w

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OA7XxOATwlI 

New Jack Swing?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_jack_swing

Folk Dance / Bush Doof or Doof Doofs

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austrian_folk_dance

Bush Dance 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bush_dance

https://thebushwackers.com.au/bush-dancing/

https://theculturetrip.com/pacific/australia/articles/the-bush-doof-australias-riotous-outback-dance-parties/

Lastly, you can purchase a book by a man named Paul Fleckney that is chalk full of Shuffle and Melbourne culture, check out his website below.

https://www.technoshuffle.com.au/

More Sources below

 

Big Milan on YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/user/BigMilan

 

Gaara on Instagram

@gaaraofthefunk

 

Francis

@Francisvoxo