Shuffle dance

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Shuffle dance
Dance TypeRave dance
InnovatorN/A - b-boys, cybergoths, and ravers of the UK, Melbourne and likely other countries
CountryUK, Australia
CompetitionsVarious globally
Related topics

The shuffle dance, also known as the Melbourne shuffle[full citation needed] or simply the shuffle (and locally by other terms like rocking or stomping)[full citation needed] is a rave and club dance that developed in the UK during the late 1980s [1][2] and Melbourne, Australia in the early 1990s.[3] Many of the movements used in shuffling are typical jazz dance steps but with a contemporary twist.[3] The style is also influenced by a Chicago based ghetto house dance called footwork and a style called the crip walk that originates in Compton, California.[4] The basic movements in the dance are a fast heel-and-toe action with a style suitable for various types of electronic music. Most variants also incorporate arm movements.[5] People who dance the shuffle have often been referred to as "rockers", due in part to the popularity of shuffling to rock music in the early 1990s.[citation needed]


No one knows the origin of the shuffle or the melbourne shuffle as rave or party dance moves. Indeed, it's not clear if the dance was developed well before the name or at the same time. The earliest video evidence of the shuffle as rave dance moves on this page is currently from the UK 1989.[1][2] Anecdotally it does not appear to have a name at this time in the UK and was just a common set of dance moves found at UK raves and parties of this era. A melbourne shuffle specific web page indicates the melbourne shuffle was likely pioneered from Irish immigrants.[6] From this it appears likely that this version of the dance form was imported or based on imported moves most likely from the moves commonly seen at raves in the UK or Ireland and named as the melbourne shuffle, in Australia perhaps many years later.

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, and also used the term in their paper,[5] but locals simply called it "stomping". At closer scrutiny, one could presume that its origins came on the onset of MC Hammer's dance videos and later dance moves such as "The Dougie".[citation needed]

The Running Man Dance Move[edit]

The running man dance move predates house or rave shuffle dance moves.[7] It appears later it was incorporated in to a set of moves commonly seen at raves and parties.

Late 1980s early 1990s UK[edit]

Shuffle dance moves were well established by the late 1980s at raves in the UK. They can be seen on the start of this video from Dance Energy September 1989 UK,[8] and another from two events during April / May 1989 (at 8:05 mins also at other points).[2] The UK acid house and house scene had been popular since around late 1987 [9] and shuffle dance moves would first have been seen in the UK sometime between then and May 1989. The era from early 1989 to late 1992 in the UK saw some of the biggest legal and illegal raves in the world at that time and was one of the major epicenters of rave culture globally.[10] For example, 20000 people attended single semi legal events in 1989 [11] and 40000 people attending the brilliant and illegal castlemorton free festival in 1992.[12] At underground events such as these, shuffle dance moves were commonly seen. By 1991 shuffle dance moves and other rave moves that are clearly the basis of modern shuffle dance had become very popular in the UK. Mainstream UK rave pop acts such as The Prodigy were using them in their hit videos at this time, including 'Everybody Is In the Place' (wiki will not accept a link to this video but its easy to find). It's inconceivable to think that many countries in the world would not have seen pop videos of the UK rave dance style at this time and based some of their dance styles on this. Also raving was a global phenomenon along with the dance moves seen at these events. Its highly likely young people would have attended raves / parties in more than one country as they traveled the globe, and spread dance moves globally.

Early 1990s[edit]

In the early '90s, the Melbourne shuffle began to emerge as a distinct dance, incorporating more hand movement than its predecessor, Stomping. The music genres originally danced to were hardstyle, house music, and acid house. As trance music developed, so did the dance, with more accent laid on glide movements.[3][full citation needed]

Where the Melbourne shuffle was originally danced, the places were not considered to be named 'raves', but rather 'dance parties'.[citation needed]

Mid–late 1990s[edit]

A number of videos about the dance from this era exist as it increased in popularity.[13][full citation needed] Many variations of this dance developed, 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.[citation needed]


In 2004 a documentary titled Melbourne Shuffler began filming in Melbourne clubs, raves,[14][dead link] 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.[15] 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 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 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. 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. 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 now widespread inclusion of the 'Running Man') that these activities are justified.


Near the end of 2012, separately from the YouTube-mediated popularity that evolved from 2006 onward, in and outward from Australia, a style of shuffling relatable to the earlier styles surfaced in London.[16] This style has been referred to as "Cutting shapes" or "Shape cutting", "Konijnendans" in the Netherlands and also sometimes as "House shuffling". Throughout the following years it has gained popularity in the United Kingdom, the United States and Spain and as the term mentioned earlier suggests, the Netherlands. The United States era of shuffling slowly came to an end.[17][4]


A slowed down Running Man

Originally consisting of the "T-Step" combined with arm movements, during the 1990s the "Running Man" has been adopted into the dance, accentuating the new focus of keeping time with the beat. The "Running man" involves a 2-step motion in which the front foot is brought backwards with two hops while the back foot is brought forwards in a walking motion, creating a "running on the spot" motion, hence the name. 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. Modern implementations of the dance include motions from other dances such as Crip Walk, Toprock and Jumpstyle, which have brought the less-adaptive t-step to the background. Some dancers even omit the t-step completely.

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.[5] Others apply smooth plastic tape or duct tape to the soles of their shoes.

Although Hardstyle and Hard Trance has been a dominant genre to dance on within the Melbourne shuffle for many years, referring to the dance with "hardstyle" is incorrect. "Hardstyle" is 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.

With the spread of the Melbourne shuffle through YouTube, dancing styles have evolved from each other to a point in which people refer to styles with an abbreviation coming from the area in which the style came from, such as "AUS"/"Melb" (Australia/Melbourne), "MAS"/"Malay" (Malaysia) or "Cali" (California). These distinctions cause a lot of confusion for newcomers and those who are unfamiliar with the dance.

The Melbourne shuffle, like the T-step requires stamina and a momentum. Repetitive, fast, powerful movements of the feet and quick switches define a good shuffle. Dancers must be able to exhibit these moves smoothly to give the impression of an effortless sliding on feet.


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.[18] 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,[5] attempting to illustrate what the popular Melbourne Shuffle was for the first time to the mainstream public.

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.

In 2004, Six Flags launched an ad campaign featuring Mr. Six: an old man who performed the Melbourne Shuffle as well as Jumpstyle and Techtonik.[19]

A documentary on the topic entitled Melbourne Shuffler[14] 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).[20] Nightclub for an upcoming Documentary on the Melbourne shuffle, although no other news has surfaced after the filming of the footage.

In November 2008, "So You Think You Can Shuffle",[21] an Australian YouTube-based, video-voting competition webpage was launched at, at which 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.[22]

Shuffle dancing has appeared in many music videos since the style's introduction, For example, in August 2009, the German band Scooter featured the shuffle performed by Missaghi "Pae" Peyman and Sarah Miatt, of the We Dance Hard dance troupe, in the video for the single "J'adore Hardcore", which was partly filmed in Melbourne. The official music video for The Black Eyed Peas single "The Time" briefly features dancers (including in a nightclub performing the Melbourne shuffle. The hip hop group LMFAO featured several electro-house dancers, including members of Quest Crew, performing the shuffle in their "Party Rock Anthem" music video. LMFAO had organized an online shuffle contest for their video; the winner (Andrew Furr) appeared in the video as the character "Shuffle Bot". LMFAO are themselves seen doing the shuffle in the music videos for their singles "Champagne Showers", "Sexy and I Know It", and "Sorry for Party Rocking".

The style has appeared in several video games. In 2011, League of Legends released a character named Viktor who can perform the Melbourne shuffle by typing /dance into the chat interface.[23] In Arenanet's 2012 MMORPG Guild Wars 2. a human character can perform the Melbourne shuffle with the same /dance code.[24] In 2017 the Blizzard's FPS Overwatch released a shuffle-dancing emote for a character named Sombra during the event for the game's one-year anniversary.[25]


  1. ^ a b "UK Shuffle - Topic". YouTube.
  2. ^ a b c "UK Shuffle Sunrise - Topic". YouTube.
  3. ^ a b c "Melbourne shuffle". Ripefruit Media Co. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Release Yourself: How "Cutting Shapes" Took Over The UK's House Music Scene". Archived from the original on 22 July 2015. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d Tomazin, Farrah; Donovan, Patrick; Mundell, Meg (7 December 2002). "Dance Trance". The Age. The Age Company Ltd.
  6. ^ "Melbourne Shuffle Origins - Topic". melbourneshuffle.
  7. ^ "Runningman Dance - Topic". Wiki.
  8. ^ "UK Shuffle Dance Energy - Topic". YouTube.
  9. ^ "UK Acid House- Topic". mn2s.
  10. ^ "UK Scene - Topic". spectator.
  11. ^ "1989 UK - Topic". fantazia.
  12. ^ "Castlemorton - Topic". Independent.
  13. ^ "MSO (Melbourne Shuffle Oldskool)" – via Blogspot.
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^ "Melbourne Shuffle - Topic". YouTube.
  16. ^ "Shuffling: the War at the Heart of London's New Dance Scene". Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  17. ^ "Zelfs Amerika is de konijnendans niet ontgaan". Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  18. ^ "rage". ABC Television.
  19. ^ "Mr. Six Six Flags Ad". Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  20. ^ "IIS Windows Server".
  21. ^ "So You Think You Can Shuffle Competition, website". Archived from the original on 1 August 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  22. ^ "News article" (JPG).
  23. ^ Viktor's /dance
  24. ^ Human /dance
  25. ^ "Game emotes".

External links[edit]