When a good song comes on, it’s almost impossible to not start moving, shuffling your feet, and grooving along to the beat. Humans, we were born to dance. Evidence of dance dates back to the earliest civilizations as a way to tell stories, display emotions, and speak to higher powers. And it’s no different today.
What is different today is that we’ve slapped a label on things. We categorize styles of dance by the kind of music they would be danced to. Hip hop has breakdancing. Jazz has the Lindy Hop, Swing, the Charleston. All go through surges of popularity to match what’s currently trending. This has never been truer than now, especially with the help of social media.
So, what about electronic music? Just like the hundreds (thousands?!) of subgenres of electro, there are countless dances associated. Shuffling (né: the Melbourne Shuffle) is a particular style of dance that has gained popularity in recent years, although its roots date back to the 80s. If you’ve been to an electronic music festival, show, or have social media, you’ve seen it.
Do the shuffle
Melbourne has claimed to be the birthplace of shuffling. Underground rave kids of the 80s and 90s rejected the mainstream idea that dancing comes from the hips and upper body. Instead, they focused on fancy footwork.
Shuffling can be simply described as fast heel-toe (shuffling) movements, during which the illusion of floating across the floor is attained. Feet shuffle in and out, arms move up and down to the beat, and the upper body bops along. Although there are technical shuffling moves and steps, it’s truly free form and open to interpretation. No one shuffler dances the same. Spins, jumps, and slides are all incorporated. To the untrained eye, it could look like a sped-up version of the running man and to a certain point, it is. But that’s only one of many steps happening during shuffling.
Shuffling works best with high BPM tracks, which is why it has gained such popularity among EDM fans. And just like the EDM community, there is a whole community of shufflers out there. At any given show, you’re bound to find a group of dancers all vibing together, cheering each other on, or showing one another some steps.
And like the many genres of electronic music, shuffling also has its subcategories, cutting shapes being the most popular. Although cutting shapes has a lot of similarities to shuffling, it’s done at a slower tempo. But not too much slower, think house, deep house, and tech-house.
Shuffling is hugely popular across social media, with artists like AC Slater hosting shuffling competitions when they drop new songs. We have LMFAO’s “Everyday I’m Shuffling” to thank for making it mainstream.
Some shufflers have even made quite the name for themselves, drawing in hundreds of thousands of YouTube subscribers and Instagram followers. If you’re keen to get on the shuffle train, there are countless shuffle tutorials out there to get you started.
Shufflers find inspiration from other dance styles like popping, vogueing, jacking, hip hop, and jazz. As long as the footwork stays fancy, the BPMs stay high, and you’re feeling the beat, there are really no rules to how you shuffle.