What Is The Melbourne Shuffle Dance?

Dancers performing the Melbourne shuffle dance.
Dancers performing the Melbourne shuffle dance.

Melbourne shuffle dance is a club dance that has its roots from the underground rave music scene in Melbourne Australia. It is characterized by a fast heel-and-toe action which is a style suitable for a wide variety of electronic music.

5. Overview and Characteristics -

Originally, the dance Melbourne shuffle dance consisted of a dance style known as the “T-step” dance. It is a quick sideways heel-toe motion on one leg twisting at the ankle. It includes sliding, arm pumps, kicks, and spins. With time, a new style known as the running man came into play. This dance imitates a person who s running on the spot and hence the name. It is a two-step dance where the where the front foot is brought backward in two hops. The back foot is also brought forward using a walking motion. To help in easy sliding, dancers are known to spread talcum powder on the floor while others stick plastic tapes in their shoe-soles. Some experienced dancers are known to make more complicated moves such as 360 degrees spin and some interesting jumps in the middle of the dance. The dance style has spread to other areas of the American continent and has been modified depending on the geographical zone.

4. Origins -

The origin of the name Melbourne shuffle dance is not clear, but it was first used publicly in a TV interview by Ruppert Keller in 1990. Before this, many had referred to the dance simply as “stomping.” To most people, the dance looked like a cross breed between the chicken dance and the stomping robot. However, the exact location where the dance started was in Melbourne underground rave music scenes.

3. Spread and Development -

This dance technique has remained relatively idle and has escaped the attention of the media. Before 1990 it even had no name. However, the internet has come in handy to spread it. Its popularity grew in the late 1990s and spread to other areas outside Australia, the country of origin. In Australia and the US, there is a new crop of young performers performing in ciphers. These are young teenagers who have not attained the legal age to attend raves in clubs. In London, a new style of the Melbourne shuffle dance emerged in 2013and became common in London clubs. The dance is also seen in other European countries going by different names. In some instances, there are modifications done to suit the culture and music category being danced to. It has changed from just a rave dance to being used for self-expression and fun. In Thailand, dancers are seen shuffling on the beaches of Koh Phangan.

2. Notable Practitioners -

Since the mass media have not given the dance style the much-needed attention, its dancers are not well known. Some dancers have however been able to break the glass ceiling with the most noticeable being the veteran duo of Pae and Sarah. Several musicians’ have incorporated the dance in their videos including a German band known as the scooter. Other musicians who used this dance in their music include; LMFAO, Que's crew, and Andrew Fur.

1. Greater Significance and Legacy -

The dance style has evolved from being just a rave dance in Australia into being a medium of expression. In the recent past, fitness schools have incorporated it into their routines towards fitness and weight loss.


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