Empower Melbourne Shuffle
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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 gribbz@empowermelbourneshuffle.com

If you are going to teach and represent something, it is important to state the facts and the history of Melbourne Shuffle 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. 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.

Check out some of the trending fashion statements within the Melbourne Shuffle scene including Hard Kandy, Bass Station, and more.

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.

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. 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.

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. https://www.youtube.com/c/jack40k/video