Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How To Make A Shuffle Crew


Any shuffler will tell you, the only thing better than shuffling, is shuffling with friends.

The Shuffle is a social dance, that's how it began. A bunch of friends getting together and doing what they love, Shuffling. Simple as that.

Whether it's 2-3 friends hanging out at home or hundreds at a Shuffle event, being with others who have the same passion for Shuffling is a buzz like no other.

There can be dozens of different types of crews, and not all crew members need to be pro shufflers. Some members may not be able to shuffle at all, yet they can be just as valuable a member as the crew stars who win competitions.

Lets have a look at some of the different types of crew members.

A crew can have any or all of these types of members, and one member can do more than one role.


These are the most visible crew members. They'll be the ones who are in the crews shuffle vids and enter competitions.

Often the competition crew members form teams. Shifter Hardstyle Prodigy for example have 50 members and a number of teams, from the most experienced older ones, to starter teams for the younger ones who are in training.

Having different teams in your crew gives everybody a chance to perform at their skill and age level.

Generally new crews will just have one team who are all at the same age/skill level to start with.


These are the people who video and edit the performers. They don't need to be able to shuffle, but they do need to have a passion for shuffling and understand Shuffle culture.

The film crew provide valuable feedback to the performers. Together they can view the shuffling and discuss how to make it look better, or have a greater impact.

The end product, usually a youtube vid, is how the world sees the crew, so it is a very important role. Film crews need to keep up with the latest editing styles, software and cam techniques, just as the performers need to keep developing their moves.


All crews need some sort of web presence, a myspace, friendster, orkut page etc, and often a forum, for updates meet ups, comps. Even for posting vids online.

So crews need a good web tech who loves this stuff, and knows how to manage all the online activity.

Online time moves FAST it's a fulltime job just keeping up. So this is often a great opportunity for someone who's not a great shuffler, but is a great tech and can spend a lot of time keeping up with online developments and work with the rest of the crew to make online content work for the crew.


Well of course if you're gonna have a crew, you need some crew artwork. That's where the visual artists come in. They will discuss with the crew all sorts of ideas for that big crew logo you want on the back of your hoodies, to the header on your crew page.

Artists understand shuffling really well, as most of the oldskool shufflers were artists to start with. So the crew artist/s will express in a graphic form what your crew is about.

logo's need to work on all sorts of levels, from hoodies, to grungy youtube resolution, it's a fine art (pardon the pun) getting the balance right, and artists need to keep up with changes in styles just as much as the performers do.


Your crew will probably want it's own phats, competition costumes and will want to sell it's own merchandise at some stage. That's where designers come in.

It's a fashion area, so you need someone with fashion design knowledge, an understanding of fabrics, and clothing manufacturing techniques.

Cript Ballas for instance have their own tailor who makes the crews phats. That's a great idea, and the crew designer is the one who understands the demands of wear and tear on clothing, especially clothing that has to perform hard in shuffling and not fall apart in the middle of a comp. Not a good look to have a bit of reflective fabric come off in the middle of the comp finals and trip everybody over on stage ;)


Most crew members will have their favourite tracks to shuffle to. Keeping up with latest tracks and changes in styles is a busy job.

Some crews are now considering working with musicians and composers to write tracks specifically for their crew. As a musician and composer myself, I think that's a great idea. I've spent most of my life writing music for dance crews and dance productions, I love it. It gives the crew a real edge to tailor make the music they shuffle to, and helps them stand out from the crowd with a truly unique combination of music and dance.

The difference between a musician and composer is, a composer writes the music, a musician plays it (like a guitar or keyboard). They can be the same person. A composer is different to a 'producer', a producer generally does not create or write the music, they generally use pre recorded loops and samples and just rearrange them with a computer. The risk with loops is, you can sound just like everyone else. But that's ok when you're starting out.


You may find someone in the crew is great at choreography, they can stand back and arrange the shuffle moves to make an impressive routine.

Often individual shufflers can come up with great ideas, but sometimes these can get lost in the rush, if you don't arrange them and pace them. For instance you'd do a 30 sec shuffle routine differently to a 5 min one. And it'd be different again if you are working with a team of 8 shufflers for a competition. That's where a choreographer comes in.


Most crews will have someone who takes care of the administration stuff of the crew. Someone who is the contact for the crew to answer emails, phone calls etc.

This can become quite a lot of work when your crew gets to 30-50 people. Admin organise information so everyone knows when a practice is, or when you need to pay entry fees to a competition etc.

Admin can be a great job for someone who loves doing that sort of thing - most shufflers loathe it ;) but it needs to be done and done properly. For instance when I want to contact a crew, perhaps to offer them a contract to be on a shuffle dvd, I look for the person who does the admin. That way I'm pretty confident that my messages will be passed on to the relevant crew members, and my emails will be returned.


When you have to get 30 members to a competition on time, you need a support crew. Firstly to make sure everyone has transport to get there and back, and also transport all your costumes etc. Perhaps even arrange for food if it's an all day competition event.

Often it's girlfriends/boyfriends with a car or helpful parents doing all the running around. It's a great way for them to not only 'feel' like part of the crew, but to actually do something practical, to free up other crew members minds to concentrate on the competitions etc.


Fans are great, they'll support you at events, give you encouragement when you're down or missed out on a place in a comp, and will generally be a delight to have around.

Fans want their crews to succeed, in what ever the crews are doing. So make sure you let fans become part of your crew somehow, wearing your crew hoodies, talking about 'their' crew on forums and comments pages, and letting everyone at school know you exist.

There's nothing like turning up to a competition or a Shuffle event and seeing a crowd of friendly welcoming faces who are there to cheer for you, knowing that you're probably scared to death with nerves...

So make fans part of your crew, they're worth their weight in gold !


JOIN US ON THE MSO FORUM http://mso1.cultureforum.net/tutorials-f1/how-to-make-a-shuffle-crew-t119.htm





Friday, September 12, 2008

Advanced Shuffle Footwork

Most Shufflers get bored with running man, and lets face it, a move you can learn in 5 minutes can get pretty dull after a few months.

The move popularised by one hit wonder McHammer (1990)was a common sight in aerobic gyms across the world for a decade by then. It's what people looked like on a gym tread mill. Running on the spot was also a warm up exercise for sportspeople across the world, as well as dancers.

McHammers running man was often derided as his failed attempt at Michael Jacksons Moonwalk. It was too hard for McHammer, so he did this gym exercise instead.

McHammer's only hit U can't touch this, is a classic 1980's gym workout music video, like former Melbourne girl Olivia Newton-John did in 1981 with (lets get) Physical and the frightening Jazzercise - Move your Boogie Body of 1982...oooh yes, it is as bad as it sounds, but the video tapes sold more than records.

So people like McHammer jumped on the gym bandwagon and did a McHammersize track, complete with cheesy lycra/spandex booty in your face. To give you something to look at while exercising in front of your TV.

  • McHammers - U Can't Touch This, is not all that original either, it's just a remix of Rick James 1981 hit Super Freak.
Rick James "Super Freak" 1982 [update: seems this particular vid has been taken down, but it's worth doing a search to check out the track.]


Jazzercise - Move your Boogie Body 1982


McHammersize. MC Hammer - U Can't Touch This (1990)


McHammer was probably the last of the genre, thank god ;) In 1990 Wall Street had just collapsed and triggered global recession and the Berlin Wall  had been torn down by ordinary people on both sides of it, just fed up with the whole superpower, superego trip Russia and America had been on for a lifetime.

It was a brave new world and we didn't want anything to do with the one we'd just torn down, we were sick of it. Like life was the running man, you run but you go nowhere.

Because of Melbourne's large and long established Celtic community ( mostly Irish, Scottish,Welsh ) Celtic dance was our first stop for inspiration when wanted the foundation to create a new dance for a new era.

The so called shuffle 'T Step'  is the classic Shuffle. It's a simplified version of Celtic Dance.

I'd recommend shufflers who are tired of Running Man to have a look at this stuff. Because that's what we did in the creation of the shuffle when we needed inspiration.

You will find enough steps in the first 60 seconds of the opening solo of 'Feet of flames' Warriors from Riverdance in the vid below, to keep you busy all year.

For all you crews looking for inspiration...

You will see synchronised choreography for 30 members so tight, you will weep with tears of joy. And in the vids are original Melbourne Shufflers, who auditioned in Melbourne and landed roles to tour the world with Riverdance in the mid 1990's. All done live on stage in front of picky audiences who love excellence in dance, just like shufflers today.

And the more you see it the more you see the brilliance of the artistry that has been cherished for centuries. Like fine interlaced Celtic artwork itself, whether on shields, swords and jewellery, or in sacred books and carved in stone. It still has a magic buzz like no other.

Dance in Celtic culture is seen as a sacred part of it's culture, often with magical powers. There are many tales of Celtic dance transporting you to the Celtic OtherWorld.


Shuffle footwork is based on Celtic dance, Welsh, Irish and Scottish Highland mostly. Most Europeans would spot the similarities in the dance styles in a seconds.

The earliest direct linage is Clogging

More than 800 years ago Welsh seamen danced on the wooden decks of their sailing ships in wooden clogs, and Clogging was born. Clog is from a Gaelic word (traditional Celtic language) meaning 'time'.

'Time' as in keeping time when dancing. The clogs were the percussion / drum section. The rest of the music usually provided by pipes, banjo's and later fiddles (violins). The dance quickly became a favourite and is still practiced centuries later, today.

Variations spread to different regions by the sailors when they were in port, often combining with local folk dance traditions to form Irish dance, Scottish Highland dance and Flamenco in Celtic Iberian/Spanish.  

Clogging went on to become the foundation for tap dancing, introduced to America first by Irish/Welsh sailors and later Celtic and European immigrants. Over the centuries regional variations emerged and local cultural dance was often included.

The full wooden clog made way for a leather top clog around the 1400's as the dance moved inland to wooden floored dance halls and ballrooms. Such as the traditional Lancashire wooden soled clog (pic above right)

Clog dancing is also known as Stomping, which is what the oldskool Melbourne Shufflers called themselves - Stompers.

The single biggest difference between Shuffling and other street dances today, is that Shuffling is danced 'in time', ie strictly on the beat. Your stomping foot keeping time, exactly as it's been done for centuries in clogging.

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 traditional folk dance became popular in the folk revival years. Melbourne has a very large Celtic population. The steps fitted as easily with pub rock as they did with electronic dance or traditional Irish jigs.

It's from here the Melbourne Shuffle inherited it's core basic steps. All the instantly recognisable shuffle moves are in traditional clogging.

Hardstyle (Stomping), Shuffling (sideways movement by twisting heel/toe)  kicks, running man, glides.

The big hit Irish Dance stage show Riverdance hit the world stage mid 1990's just a few years after the Shuffle started, and really kicked interest in Shuffling over the moon.

Celtic dance has been around for many centuries, as well as the Celtic dance music styles, the jig (gigue) and reel.

These are basically melody loops. The musicians would play a 4, 8 or 16 bar melody then repeat it 4 times often getting a bit faster each time, then change tunes, They could go on for as long as people wanted to dance. Exactly like DJ mix today.

You could go on all night with fresh musician's 'sitting in' when the other musicians got tired. All without missing a beat.

This is a dance style that has lasted centuries and still has people in awe with the skill and pleasure this extraordinary dance brings.

In the 1700's it was actually outlawed by the English Monarchy along with playing Celtic pipes and wearing tartan. The penalty was death - yes seriously. The law lasted for 50 years.

So we figured something that had survived wars and death threats, was something that had soul and spirit and freedom, just like we felt at the end of the Cold War.

These 5 vids are taken from live Riverdance and feet Of Fire performances, no  trick photography, no quick editing to make it look faster, just well practiced dance.

This is the Irish styled celtic dance, the arms are generally kept firm at the sides, in Scottish celtic dancing the arms are used a lot more, such as in The Highland Fling and Sailors Hornpipe. This arms-at-the-side thing is a common sight today in Shuffling, with attention on the footwork.

Scottish highland styled arm work (G.Shepherd 1994)

There were a number of very well known oldskool shufflers who did great intricate Irish styled footwork. I even have footage of a famous shuffler who did variations of jigs, sailors horn pipe etc, and The Goodies, Tim Brooke Taylor's 'I'm A Teapot' routine - excellent :)

A common sight at oldskool parties, shuffle girls with traditional Irish Dance skirt and stockings. (G.Shepherd 1994)

You'll hear the traditional pipes, and all the footwork is strict Irish dance - the original tap dancing introduced to New York by Welsh and Irish Immigrants in the 1800's.

Remember the footwork is in strict time with the music, the tapping sound from the heel and toes are used as percussion instruments as well as feet. Originally the shoes were chunky wooden soled ankle boots, now they have small metal plates.

If you wanted a slight pause you would time your footwork to include a small leap where you could change feet and leg positions ready for the next sequence, landing precisely on the beat.

You will also see costumes with reflective lines and patches inspired by Melbourne's Phats.

Riverdance is based on stories from Celtic Mythology.

In Celtic Culture women and men are honoured as great warriors, heroes, champions and artists. There is never any question or suggestion that girls can't dance. Any oldskool celtic shuffle girl could dance a guy on the dancefloor into the ground, with ease... ;)

In Celtic tales a young male warrior would often have to fight a female champion to prove his worth. They could never beat her, they could only survive the test.

A shuffler will need 5 hard years of training to just do the steps of the synchronised routines, and 5 more years to make them brilliant.


For shufflers wanting to increase their shuffle vocabulary ( 1 move = 1 'word'), here's a clear and brilliant example of how it is done.

Take note of the first vid in the series below. Watch the lead male character, the guy with the mask and Celtic X on his chest.

Feet Of Flames Warriors, is about the noble, but often nasty, celtic warrior class. To illustrate that, the choreography uses para-military uniforms that would immediately suggest an Army to a modern audience. Even including some marching routines if we didn't get it the first time.

To demonstrate the power and honour the warrior class has about itself, the choreography uses modern day body building poses as symbols of modern masculinity.

The poses show off different muscle groups to be judged for balance and perfection. They are based on ancient Olympic marble sculptures of Olympic athletes doing exactly the same thing.

In dance language such a simple move in between the main routines, can convey immense pride and power. They are iconic gestures of victory and the victors.

Don't limit yourselves to just a few moves, put some depth to your style. Not just global things, but local things. Draw on your own cultural tradition too, make the shuffle part of you.


Feet of Flames - Warriors


Feet of Flames - Break Out


Riverdance "Thunderstorm"


River Dance Finale~Michael Flatley & Jean Butler


And it that finale wasn't big enough for you, try this below ... lots of great feet close ups in this one too.

The opening Flamenco solo by Michael Flatley, is tribute to the Iberian Celts who have been living in modern day Spain / Portugal for 1500 years or so.

Feet of Flames - Finale

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Shuffle Not A Street Dance ?


The Shuffle not a Street dance ? hahaha tell that to the thousands of shufflers who turned up to free Melbourne Street Dance Parties each year for 10 years

Update May 2010: Please note some pics have been moved. You can see the street dance parties in the Global Shuffle feature documentary www.globalshuffle.com

My god the commercial club owners are at it again, feeding crap to naive noob forums, even in Melbourne.

Their latest idiotic suggestion is that the Shuffle is not a street dance. What a load of crap lol.

According to them, the Shuffle can only be danced in a club or at a rave - firstly we don't call them raves in Melbourne, we call them DANCE PARTIES.

This is really desperation time for lots of has-been commercial clubs as we again come into party season in Melbourne. Shufflers are avoiding them by the 1000's. Preferring to shuffle in the street, or go to underground venues.

We at MSO have no problem with clubs that support shuffling, we promote them all the time, the same with Dance Parties. More than happy to.

But to suggest that the Shuffle can't be danced in the streets and you can't have a meet up outside - only in a  club or party venue !?!, is the biggest load of crap since the failed attempt to ban the Shuffle around this time last year. It all goes back to selling alcohol in clubs, that's all it's about. They just want your beer money, it's got nothing to do with the shuffle at all.




We have great weather in Melbourne from Spring till Autumn (fall) and we get out and Shuffle in the sunshine, in the street in the parks, in the car parks, where ever we want to.

We had regular FREE STREET DANCE PARTIES FOR OVER A DECADE in Melbourne (1990's) with up to 100,000 people turning up. Street dancing is a Melbourne institution. It's painfully obviously these forums and commercial clubs know NOTHING about the Melbourne Shuffle or Melbourne !!

Of course the Shuffle is a street dance !

Here's just a few street shuffling events from the early and mid 1990's starting with 12,000 shufflers in the Melbourne City Square at a FREE STREET DANCE PARTY 1994.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Antwerp Shuffle Meet Up

Good to see our shuffle friends from Belgium, Cray and  Enira who run  http://www.unrestricted.be/  getting into the shuffle spirit and meeting up with a couple of dutch shufflers. Much better than the online bagging dutch shufflers have been hit with on various forums the past 6 months or so ;)

See guys, doesn't matter where you come from, if you're a true shuffler, you let each other be who they wanna be, and just get on with shuffling ;) - if they can keep their eyes off the girls walking past long enough lol.

Nice to see some Bass Agents hoodies in the vid and on the sound track too. - Bass Agents will be doing some tracks for the upcoming MSO DVD Doc to be released in 2009.

So, Well done guys, lets see more of this !

>>> "Melbourne shuffle meeting in Antwerp - Belgium, hosted by Unrestricted BE. Also present that day were dutch shufflers like Pim and Miljano. It was great! "

Antwerp Melbourne Shuffle meeting - edited by Millie