Sunday, February 17, 2008

SHUFFLE! - Earliest known Shuffle Footage. Melbourne 1991


Well here it is, the earliest known classic Melbourne Shuffle footage to date. 31 August 1991, at the Sarah Sands Hotel in Melbourne.

Not the first Shuffler that we know of, rather the earliest video footage we know of. We'll try to stop a few arguments here before we get started ;)

  • UPDATE: A few people have commented that the top Aslan is wearing looks like a PHD top with the circle and PHD letters inside the circle. This, they claim proves the footage was shot only a few years ago. PHD is a small commercial club from Sydney that opened in Melbourne in 2002. It closed down due to poor crowd sizes and tried to restart a number of times. But it never really re-established itself after it's 2003/05 peak. Today it is best known for selling it's fluro PHD hoodie seen in Shuffle vids.

    However the PHD claim is nonsense, the top Aslan was wearing is a fluro PIL top using the PIL logo (pic left), which were quite common at the time in a range of merchandise styles and colors, even a PIL ring! and are still available today. PIL is Public Image Limited
    John (Johnny Rotten) Lydon's band after the Sex Pistols.

I shot this. It was a new night that opened and closed on that night. About 800 people turned up to the 3 level event, this footage is on the main dance floor.

It was an indie rock venue, and the pub owner lost money because nobody drank any beer. He complained 'Everybody's drinking water, I had to send home 6 bar staff."

The Sarah Sands was the sort of Hotel that had lunchtime strip shows in the front bar on the pool tables, with whipped cream.

People were just refilling water bottles in the washrooms. The pub owner even turned off the water to force people to buy beer and bottled water ! True

So here's the face of the Shuffler. I believe it's Aslan, a well known Shuffler in the two dozen or so hardcore shufflers during the Melbourne Shuffle's creation. Any oldskoolers who can verify it's Aslan, your comments are welcomed :)

I've got about 8 mins of raw camera footage so you can hear the music and try to get a feel of a very early rave done Melbourne Style.

This is how the Shuffle in all it's forms spread. Individual dancers in a crowd shuffling. The style that's commonly known today we generally call the 'classic' Shuffle. But there were as many variations as there were Shufflers. You mixed up the styles to suit your mood thru the night.

This footage is at 3am after a few hours of live acts on stage. So it's the wind down set and the crowd has thinned out, making space for the Shuffle Brigade to slink their way across the dance floor.

The little old lady is from the CWA (Country Womens Association) selling lollies (candy) to the Shufflers at 3am. She regularly came to raise charity money for the CWA. 'I know the young people like to eat them at this hour of the night' she told me, she was right ;) Munchee time home delivered ! She sold out in about 30 minutes.

Got some really nice dance footage of two other well known Shufflers. (Pic Below) The young lady, I remember well, but have forgotten her name, starts with an S, I think. She was involved in the fashion industry and regularly flew between New York and Melbourne for a fashion magazine ?

The guy on the right is old friend Paul Gaffney / DJ Krusty / Eugene. Paul had a great pink Buick (very big heavy car) which I helped push start on many a morning after a party. It was always getting a flat battery :)

Krusty's long been involved with Green Ant and Rainbow Serpent parties.


NB: Earliest known Melbourne Shuffle footage can now be seen in the GLOBAL SHUFFLE movie.


  1. It certainly looks like Aslan - and, yep, he was always one of the first doing this kind'a style!

  2. Ok, here's the story...back in '87 I was a 15yr old Rockabilly who secretly loved the Beastie Boys, Run DMC, LL Cool J and breakdancing - Rock Steady Crew etc. I used to combine the two styles to make it my own. In '89 my school did 'Fiddler on the Roof' and I was a Russian Cossack dancer, adding some of those moves into my repetoire. That year I went out with a chic who loved Milli Vanilli and I hate to admit it but I stole a couple of those moves too. In '90 three big things happened - MC Hammer, Deee Lite and Total Confusion - Hammer's shuffling, running man and spins combined with the cool 'daisy age' Deee Lite vibe, a Milli Vanilli backstep here and there, a pop, drop and spin and some rockabilly footwork were customised to suit the frenetic beats of Homeboy, Hippie and a Funky Dread; the KLF; and Utah Saints to name a few. Nobody in Melb was dancing like this at this time and me and two mates used to do this 'Dance on Melbourne' thing where we would rip it up in as many clubs as we could cover on a sat nite, mainly to show off and impress the chics. That year alone, we danced our arses off in virtually every club in Melb, teaching random groovers our moves. Now I'm not claiming to have started the Melb shuffle, but all I know is where my influences came from, how I combined them into a fluid style and that there was nothing else like it at the time. P.L.U.R

  3. Thanks for your post anthony b.

    It's a couple of big statements to make..." Nobody in Melb was dancing like this at this time" and "there was nothing else like it at the time"

    So be prepared to be quizzed on the authenticity of your claim ;)

    1. Do you have any photos' or videos to show what you were doing.

    2. What clubs ? What dates - just saying 1990 isn't enough. anyone can say that. You need to verify that and be grilled by oldskoolers checking for insider knowledge that would have been common to those clubs, to convince them.

    3. Who else would have seen you, other well known shufflers, DJ's etc who can verify this.

  4. Okay guys, I've just started a topic in the MSO forum to discuss the Earliest Known Shuffler and Shuffle pioneers.

    We'd all like to know who the Shuffle pioneers were, and now here's a chance to post vids, pics, flyers etc to prove it.

  5. still waiting to hear from you anthony b ;)

  6. Well your silence says it all anthony b, I'm not even convinced you were old enough to even know what a club was in 1990, you were certainly never part of the melbourne underground scene that's for sure.

    Mentioning McHammer and Milli Vanilli were your biggest boo boo's. No one in the underground would ever listen to such commercial MTV crap, it was never played in the underground. We were into techno, psytrance and acid, not wanker hip-pop.

    Seriously, you don't even mention your first party !?!. Every oldskooler knows their first party. (Not club btw, actual underground dance parties held in warehouses etc.)

    You had to prove your pedigree by naming your first party to everyone in the oldskool era, it was a rite of passage. If you'd never been to a underground party you were never considered underground, you were an outsider.

    It was illegal then. And outsiders were never trusted because you could have been an undercover cop. Which is what you sound like.

    That's how we tested if someone was genuine. As our saying used to go 'You know the score' you expected you would be challenged and you be able to prove yourself, that was how the oldskool was.

    Genuine oldskoolers had no problem rattling off stacks of oldskool references, it was the secret knowledge, the passwords to the underground.

    btw we never used the term PLUR in the oldskool (1990-96), that came in the commercial era in the late 1990's, in the oldskool we just said 'E' or 'You Know The Score' - your next big boo boo.

    Sorry mate, these are common knowledge things to all oldskoolers in Melbourne.

    So anthony b I'm afraid your story doesn't stack up at all,

    So, as we'd say in the oldskool era >>> YOU'RE BUSTED ;)

  7. Hiya, Just stumbled across your site after seeing the raving bunny and penguin, lmao luv it, sorry i'm andy from south wales, uk. i'v never heard of the melbourne shuffle till i came across those vid's and then on to your site.
    only reason i'm leaving a comment on here is that i have been unwittingly been doing the melbourne shuffle since bout 89 at my first rave, well club rave in the welsh hills and then on to bigger events like helter-skelter, hardcore heaven and sanctuary.
    not claiming to be a pioneer or anything and i defo have no pics(too off my face at the time :)) just wanted to add that the shuffle seems to be all over the place :)
    gonna bookmark the site as it great to see peeps enoying the same thing.
    (soz that was a bit long winded)

  8. Hi andy, well coming from south wales you should be familiar with the shuffle seeing it's based on celtic dance :)

    great to hear from you

  9. As for the actual steps of the shuffle including todays hardstyle, they are over 800 years old, originating from Welsh (Wales/UK) seamen dancing on the decks of their vessels in wooden clogs.

    read more, see more learn more here

    As for Shuffle culture, it was a post cold war dance of freedom of a new era 1990+. Not being bombed out of existence or rotting from radiation fallout, was considered something new to all of us at the time. We had never known peace, we grew up knowing at no fault of our own, some superpower would be having a bad day and 'push the button', killing us all. The best we could hope for is the 3 minute warnig - the time it took for the first nuclear missle to be launched and hit a city.

    We left the cold war era behind us and moved forward.

    We said bugger the war, who needs it ? Not us. Only war mongers want war. And it was ordinary people on both sides of the war who did it. What if they gave a war and nobody turn up, sort of thing.

    Not just the cold war but a global recession, after the 1989 Wall st crash, which sent economic refugees from London to Melbourne looking for work and a life, during 1990.

    But Melbourne was hit hard with the CBD becoming like a ghost town with new office towers from the 1980's boom, sitting empty.

    There were no clubs open in the recession except for the Commerce Club in Commerce House and Filter at the Lounge, the worlds longest running shuffle club 11 years every Wednesday night without a break, in the same venue by the same owner and promoters.

    It was a very small and secretive scene, which just boomed from 1992 - 1995 with big parties every weekend and club nights Tues to Sunday night every week all year, even in winter.

    It was one of those 'you had to be there' to understand the true significance, situations.