What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a rave? Glow sticks? Raging techno beats? Acid tripping? Well for Jean-Luc Mosley ’12, when the party starts raving, he starts to shuffle. More specifically, he starts to do the Melbourne Shuffle.
The Melbourne Shuffle, a style of dance that originated in the late 1980s in Melbourne, is a cross between the two step running man and the sea walk. The basic movements of the dance are fast heel-toe actions paired with sharp arm movements, executed against a backdrop of hard techno trance beats. To an untrained eye, the dance can sometimes come across as a crazy combination of “the chicken dance and a foot stomping robot,” but for a serious shuffler like Mosley, it is simply the art of floating seamlessly across the floor.
Mosley began shuffling only a year ago after looking for jump style dance videos on YouTube — a style of dance JL says is the opposite of the Melbourne shuffle “because you’re jumping up in the air all the time as opposed to gliding across the floor”— and a Melbourne Shuffle video popped up.
“I wanted to learn cool dances and I thought, hey that looks cool!” Mosley exclaimed. “I only knew jump style and a little bit of sea walk, but I caught on pretty easily.”
Since that initial encounter, Mosley has catapulted himself to the top of the shuffling ranks. This summer, he won 13th place in an online global shuffle competition. Over 200 shufflers submitted videos to YouTube, and based on overall skill level as well as the number of positive YouTube comments, the shufflers were given a ranking.
In his competition video, Mosley dons a dark Saybrook hoody, baggy jeans, colorful Adidas shoes and a baseball cap. When I ask him if this is his typical attire, he tells me that there are actually clothes called “fat pants” that are special to the Melbourne shuffling crowd. Fat pants, contrary to initial speculations, are not pants that you wear in an attempt to look chubbier, but are in fact $300 pants that are made only in Australia or Malaysia that “go all the way down to shoes so that it looks like you’re floating.”
Even though Mosley has yet to own a pair of fat pants, he finds his own way to stand out. Some shufflers do a smoother shuffle, but Mosley prefers a high energy hard style shuffle which involves picking up his feet higher during the running man and making more “violent” hand movements. Mosley also has his own unique way of moving his arms.
“I imagine a line from my chest and I always try to keep one part of my arm at the level of that line even when I drop a hand. You gotta appear smooth and always have your hand movements on beat,” he explained.
Mosley is part of a shuffling group called Funk My Style (FMS) that meets in public places all over Chicago to shuffle it out.
“One time, the mall cops tried to get on us because we were shuffling outside,” Mosley recalled. “We went inside when the mall was about to close and got kicked out. It’s funny, we didn’t get kicked out for riding a toy fire truck around the mall, but we did for dancing.”
FMS has their own YouTube channel called “FMS hardstyle,” and every individual dancer can be found by his respective nickname — Mosley is known as “V1P3R.”
“I didn’t want to be like, ‘bunny’ or something,” he said with a laugh.
Even though the Melbourne Shuffle is still relatively new to the American scene, Mosley expects it will gain a greater following.
“There are not many good electric dances that can make people go wild,” he said. “[Shuffling] gets you pumped up — it’s like moshing, except in a contained form. Sometimes if I’m just chilling, I just want to get up and shuffle.”