Sunday, July 1, 2007


Electro played a major part of electronic dance music history in the early 80's.

Peter Gabriel's 1983 Sledgehammer vid has some brilliant animation by the Brothers Quay, who were not pupils (correction by Michael Brooke . Thanks Michael. See comments) of the equally brilliant master surrealist animator Jan Svankmajer. According to Michael Brooke, the Quays were asked to imitate Svankmajers style, which they weren't too happy about.

Anyhow, in this vid, Peter does the 1970's Melbourne Sharpie dance expertly.

Melbourne Sharpies of the 70's who did a distinctive sideways elbow move, which developed as a Melbourne style from a similar Ska type move done by UK skinheads. Sharpies were Melbourne versions of skinheads.


Greg Macainsh (From Melbourne rock band Skyhooks) shot this great short film of the Sharps in 1974. While Sharps enjoyed a fight, they insisted you 'look sharp' ie. dress well, while you do it.

Sharps were as fussy about their hair, shoes and melbourne made Conte cardigans, as any female fashionista today.

Proud peacocks one and all, Sharps topped off their display with a distinctive dance style, which is still included in that other distinctive Melbourne dance style of today, the Melbourne Shuffle ;)

Sharpies in Melbourne 1974. By Greg Macainsh


This vid is by Larry Jenkins who had an exhibition of his 70's Sharpie pics in the National Gallery. He was pretty chuffed about it and wrote this track, which has a lot of his pics, and some fantastic period footage - mid 1970's of Sharpies dancing. Ya gotta see it it's great...

Artifact - Larry Jenkins

Sharpie Shuffle

In the pics below you can see Voodoo Phil doing it at Global Village in 1994, and below that Voitek doing it at every Picture Tells A Story 1992. Each with the videos you can catch a glimpse of them in action.



About 3.30 mins in of this 1983 Sledghammer vid you'll see Peter Gabriel doing this Sharpies sideways elbow move, (pic above) really well. He even gets right down in a bent over position, like the experienced dancers did - the 'how low can you go' move. Not sure where Peter got the moves from, but the guy who produced his first single Salisbury Hill was Rob McKenzie from brilliant 1970's Melbourne band McKenzie Theory - yep saw them live in Melbourne. I shall try contacting some people to explore this further.

Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer
And just for the sheer brilliance of the animation, here's some Jan Svankmajer vids

Jan Svankmajer Dimensions of Dialogue Part 1

Check out the dancing hat, shirt and pants in Jabberwocky. No body just the clothes, it's great!

Jan Svankmajer - Jabberwocky(Part 1)

And to finish off here's some of the Brothers Quay original films. First saw the absolutely brilliant Street of Crocodiles at a Melbourne animation film festival in the 1980's. Unfortunetly, the only youtube version I can find doesn't have the original film score by Leszek Jankowski. So turn the volume down the music just gets in the way of some brilliant animation. (- Yes I know I've said brilliant a lot but it's deserved)

Brothers Quay - Street of Crocodiles (1986) not original soundtrack

Brothers Quay -1985- The Epic of Gilgamesh

Brothers Quay interview


  1. "the Brothers Quay, who were pupils of the equally brilliant master surrealist animator Jan Svankmajer."

    No they weren't. Sorry, but this is a complete myth that has been given far too wide a circulation, based on a fundamental misinterpretation of their 1984 short 'The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer'.

    In actual fact, the Quays didn't discover Svankmajer until 1983, by which time their individual style and preoccupations had become well established - they were far more influenced by Polish animators like Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lenica, whom they discovered at art school in the late 1960s.

    In fact, they're not very keen on the 'Sledgehammer' video, because they were asked to imitate Svankmajer, which wasn't their style at all - this is one of the reasons it's not included on their compilation DVD (which I produced). The other was the cost of music rights, but there wasn't much incentive to clear them!

    Michael Brooke

  2. Hey thanks Michael, never knew the real story, just heard it from some (misinformed) film students years back.

    Any details on the dvd, title, availibility etc?