Learning How to Shuffle
By: Kimberly Miller (@kimmillerfit)
We’ve all been at a music festival or scrolling through our Instagram feed and watched in awe. Shuffle dancing is growing in popularity in the EDM/rave community and there is no doubt that there are a TON of benefits to learning. Initially, the goal of learning the moves and being able to put together bits of choreography is the goal. However, I realized it is SO much more than that. Practicing shuffling is INSANE cardio. Until you actually get around to practicing the moves repeatedly in one session you won’t realize how much it makes you sweat or how many calories you can burn. I’ve actually replaced some of my gym cardio (treadmill, Stairmaster, etc.) with practicing shuffling. There is also a really great community attached to shuffling on social media, meet-ups at raves, shuffle practice meet-ups, etc. It’s a great way to connect with people in the community.
So now that you’re convinced and you want to learn you’re probably asking yourself the question - “this looks really cool, but where do I start?” - and it’s a very valid question. When I decided I wanted to learn last fall, I had no clue where to begin. Unless you are a born natural, you are not going to be able to watch a video to a seasoned shuffler and replicate it. It didn’t take me long to realize that I am definitely NOT a born natural! So instead of jumping into impressive choreography, I started from square one and took it step-by-step. Below I’ve outlined all the things I’ve done to get to where I am with shuffling today. Mind you, I am not an expert, but I’ve made a lot of progress since I started less than a year ago. Learning to shuffle is all about progress, not perfection!
1 - Hop on YouTube and learn the basic running man. The running man is the most basic (and important) step in shuffle dancing and you will need to master this before you will be able to conquer more difficult steps. There are so many tutorials on YouTube that break it down. Simply, it is a 2-motion step where you stand like a flamingo with one leg lifted/knee-high, then jump down with your legs in a triangle shape. You continue this while switching which leg you are lifting up and placing in front (see photos below). If you find it to be difficult - great! So did I! It took me literally hours worth of practicing to become fully comfortable with the running man at a fast speed. Don’t get discouraged, just put the time in and enjoy the process!
2- Learn another 3-5 simple moves. After you have the running man down, try to master a few more music moves. This could include variations of the running man, t-step, double-tap running man, toe or heel touch steps, etc. If you search on YouTube basic shuffle moves tutorial you will be able to breakdown these next steps. Again, practice a ton before moving on to harder and harder moves. Work on speed too. It took me a very long time to get a glow going at a good BPM.
3- Practice, practice, practice! Put on some beats and get at it! Practicing the steps with the music is key, but so is practicing the flow of the movements into and out of one another. This comes naturally sometimes, but if you find you’re struggling to learn a basic level choreography routine on YouTube, Vanessa Seco and Gabby J David are two impressive shufflers with a ton of tutorials on YouTube. Those include basic choreography tutorials. This is where it finally starts to come together!
4- Advanced moves and finding your flow. Now that you have the basics down: It’s time to start playing around with more advanced moves and developing a style to your shuffling. You may be familiar with the terms “cutting shapes” or “Melbourne.” These are very distinct styles of shuffling. Within these though, there is still plenty of uniqueness from dancer to dancer. When you reach this point it’s so much more about musicality and letting your body move to the music than it is about preplanned choreography and thinking hard about the sequence of steps. This takes a LONG TIME! Even the best shufflers in the world talk about continuing to develop their flow.
5- Share your art with the world! Whether it be through Instagram, festivals, or shuffle meetups, get involved in this amazing community of dancers. I absolutely love following other shufflers’ journeys. Seeing other dancers with different styles is so inspiring and it has helped me develop my own flow too.
Are you ready to get dancing yet? I hope these tips help get you off your feet and grooving away!