Saturday, January 17, 2009

Shuffle Music: Practice Mix 2. Rock

mix title: rock
shuffle music genre: rock
to develop upper body and inertia motion.
beginners > advanced
speed: nice and easy 90 -120 bpm
time: 25 mins

Rock is often slower than usual shuffling and uses lots of upper body motion. From simple head banging boogie to complex upper body twists and arm moves.

Melbourne had a very strong and large live pub rock scene in the 1970's. Bands from around Australia and surrounding countries would move to Melbourne to 'make it'.

From Thursday to Sunday nights every week you could choose from over 300 live bands, all with a dance floor in front of the band, where you'd find people rockin.

With such a choice, the competition between bands for good gigs was fierce, and the pub crowds were unforgiving. If you didn't have the crowd on their feet and dancing within 3 songs, you would be booed off stage.

It was tough, raw, exciting and live. This was pre disco, this was rock and roll. This is where Rockin was born.

20,000 hippies, rockers and sharpies would turn up to an all day music festival, dance, get stoned, drunk and arrested (by Police), and call it all a good day out.

The most distinctive Melbourne Rockin style of all time, is that of the notorious early/mid 70's Melbourne clans and crews, called Sharpies.

Sharps, both male and female, were very particular about their appearance. From hair style to shoes, you had to 'look Sharp'!

And when you danced it had to be the sharpie dance, which involves a very distinctive 'elbow blow' move combined with an extreme upper body twist in time with the music.

Often girls would stand in a large circle facing in, all doing the same arm movements at the same time. Guys generally staggered around the crowd.

Footwork was a 2 step shuffle done in massive chunky healed boot like shoes. Check out their style in Greg Macainsh's 1974 film Sharpies. Greg is also the Bass player with Melbourne band Skyhooks , see second clip in the mix below.

Sharpies - Melbourne 1974. Greg Macainsh


Rock as an oldskool shuffle style did in fact exist, though it was still called stomping. It incorporated traditional Melbourne rock type dance moves such as the Sharpie dance.

Oldskoolers Voodoo Phil and Voiteck using the Sharpie 'elbow' style at oldskool parties Global Village 1993, Every Pic/TVU warehouse 1992. Pic's Garry Shepherd

Rock is an exuberant 'loud' type of shuffle that moves around far more than traditional shuffling, and has far more arm work involved.

It became most popular from about 1993 -1996 when shuffle events had more space in very large warehouses. You had more room to move, swing your hands and arms around, and generally do freeform shuffling, without fear of hitting someone - painful for both you and the person hit.

So compared to the rather confined space of classic shuffling, rockin really stood out with the energy and carefree abandon found at an indie rock gig. As mentioned before, people started saying 'this place is rockin' because of the similarity.

I wont post a bunch of vids showing the style here. I'll leave that up to future posts.

Of more importance is understanding how to dance in a more carefree, freestyle rock like style, using more of your upper body.

You begin with the music ROCK, and you dance to the music.

It's a very physical raw energy dance. You have more of a flow to it, rather than the tight strict steps of hardstyle and classic Celtic dance styled shuffle.

Firstly think of rocking as a movement, you rock backwards and forwards, using the full weight of your body. Like on a swing or in a rocking chair.

It's not the sharp sudden burst like stomping your foot in hardstyle. Your whole body becomes involved, rocking from one position to another.

  • Rock and Roll, was a slang term for having sex in the 1940's/50's, that's what rock means. It was a time when polite society did not say the word 'sex' in public.

You use the inertia of your body mass in rockin.

Inertia in shuffling is like when you spin and your body just wants to keep spinning, it's the weight of your body, your body mass, that's pushing you.

So instead of suddenly stopping with a jolt, you turn that inertia into another move. You use the energy of your moving body to help start a new move.

For it to be the most effective, your next move needs to be physically complimentary.

1. Sit upright in a chair with your hands resting the top of your legs. Bend forward from the waist then return to sitting position.

2. Now add a Physically Complimentary move. Hold your hands to your chest in the sitting position. Then bend forward again, but this time, unfold your arms in time with the bend. Hands on chest at start, arms wide spread when bent all the way over. Then return to sitting position with hands on chest.

You will feel your muscle attention flow from your waist muscles to your shoulder and arm muscles and back again as each set of muscles comes into strength focus. Your waist and arms now compliment each others characteristics.

For most hardstyle shufflers reading now, you will have just discovered another part of the body to dance with :) Imagine what you can do when you combine both the top and the feet.

That gives you a flow to your style. That's how you get smoothness.

The slower music for Rock gives your body time to be smooth, it's way less stressful than hardstyle, letting your muscles naturally stretch and return. It's more organic, where hardstyle is more robotic (in a good way).


These vids in the mix below are slow paced compared to hardstyle, but are equally danceable. Rock and Roll is after all, first and foremost, dance music!

For shufflers you'll find great ways to use your upper body. Try some of the moves seen in the vids, even the head banging by Canned Heat, to loosen up and strengthen neck muscles.

In fact you will find this mix a real pleasure doing your usual shuffle moves to.

If you are a bit confused about how to shuffle to rock, watch the last vid below, AC/DC Meets Girls Shuffling in Brazil. It is a shuffle remix using the great girls shuffling in brazil footage, to AD/DC's classic 'It's a Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock n Roll)

There is no time changing or stretching between the shuffling footage and the AC/DC track. The girls are originally shuffling to hardstyle, but are shuffling in perfect time to Melbourne pub rock of 1975.

With the rock track, it's the same tempo as most hardstyle, but the bass/kick accent is on every second beat. Not every beat like with hardstyle. So it sounds slower, but you can dance 'double time' to it, as we say in Melbourne.

Try it as a warm up or warm down, or just to get greater fluid motion happening in your style.

You will see glimpses of Melbourne audiences rockin in the aisles to the Skyhooks track - Melbourne 1978. Read more about this banned track in High School Revolution.

BTW- The 1st 4 tracks in the mix, (excluding AD/DC), are what were called Shuffle tracks in rock music at the time. It's distinct for it's syncopated rhythm, a loose shuffling feel with a prominent off beat. Compared to the hard to the floor 1st beat accent of AC/DC's Long way to the top, which was just called Rock.

So have some fun :)

Ian Dury and the Blockheads - Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll

What ever happened to the Revolution 1975. Skyhooks Live at the Palais (Melb 1978)

david bowie - fashion

On The Road Again - Canned Heat - Montreux 1973

AC/DC meet Brazilian girls shuffling. Melbourne 1975

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