The Immense Sadness of the Solitary Shuffler


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The Immense Sadness of the Solitary Shuffler

They've got the moves, but nobody to move with.

Shufflers, and shuffling, have an underservedly bad reputation. It's all too easy to fire off a series of faux-pithy ripostes from the bar about those poor deluded souls who have the temerity to actually enjoy themselves in clubs or at festivals. Ha ha! Look at that man dancing! Look at those girls having fun! What a bunch of doofuses, we say, clutching onto our phones and our double vodka and lemonades for dear life.


Fuck that. Shuffling is probably really, really fun. I've never shuffled because I find the idea of dancing in public, or in private for that matter, about as appealing as eating liquid cement day and night for a month. However, if I ever found myself finally letting go and using a dancefloor for it's intended purpose rather than as a space for firing off low performing tweets about other dancers or as somewhere to rest my coat and rucksack, I'd like to think that I'd use it to shuffle. If I tried hard enough I could be the next Shannice Em, or Puff the Houseman.

That was until I saw these photos. The following photos are the saddest thing I've seen since Nic Tasker's photo from Secret Garden Party. These photos, photos I'll never be able to un-see, are photos of the shuffler at large. These are photos of solitary shufflers caught in the wild. And they make me feel odd. Here's exactly what they did to me.

PHOTO ONE: THE PRE-SHUFFLE All photos by Adrian Choa

WHAT'S HAPPENING: Here we see the shuffler about to shuffle. At this moment in time, he's weighing up his options. The shuffle looks appealing and it's sure to grab everyone in the vicinity's attention, but that bottle of beer is pretty tempting too. The slightly rickety legs suggest impending movement, but its impending movement tinged with doubt. Is this the right thing to do? Should be let loose? He might make a tit of himself if he does. He might make a tit of himself if he doesn't. If moves everybody else might. Is it a risk worth taking? Is anything?

HOW SAD DOES IT MAKE ME FEEL: A bit sad. More hesitant and slightly anxious than actually sad though.



WHAT'S HAPPENING: As we can see, our first potential shuffler has, well, shuffled off to the safety of the shallow end for a bit of a paddle. In his place we've found a real warrior, one of those blokes who aggressively grabs life by the balls, shoves a bucket hat on then, pierces the scrotum, inserts a straw, slams said straw into a bottle of bright blue alcopop and sucks it down in one swift slurp. I can smell him from here, and it's a faintly pleasant mixture of uncooked meat, overcooked meat, genital sweat, Issey Miyake, cum, self-regard, and just a faint note of immense self-loathing. He will not be stopped! He might knock over your drink and accidentally brush your girlfriend's bottom with his hand, but he just won't be stopped!

HOW SAD DOES IT MAKE ME FEEL: I'm now thinking about a total stranger's emotional problems, his deep-rooted problems that arise as a direct consequence of his issues with premature ejaculation, so yeah, I feel pretty sad right about now.


WHAT'S HAPPENING: The Warrior, as he'll always be known to me, is absolutely fucking owning it. The arms are up and we're about to lift off, and when we do, goodness me, everyone in the vicinity is going to know about it. He looks like he's about to really unselfconsciously ROAR with gay abandon and he could get away with it. He looks like he's about to turbo shuffle. He looks like he's about to shuffle so hard that that plant in front of him'll have no option but to wither and die immediately when faced with such vitality and life. Give it ten minutes and everyone around him'll be grey and lifeless, inexorably altered. You'll notice his first victim, if you look closely. The bloke in the sunglasses and grey shorts clutching what looks like a vase filled with the remnants of a puked-up smoothie is just about to keel over as a direct result of the Warrior's total fucking potency.

HOW SAD DOES IT MAKE ME FEEL: I will never be friends with the Warrior. I will never speak to the Warrior. I will never share a bottle of Alize with the Warrior. I will never be the Warrior and that makes me feel utterly wretched.



WHAT IS HAPPENING: What we have here might just be the loneliest sight in the world. This poor bastard. This poor, poor bastard. There he is, as alone as it's possible to be, with his special new vest on, and his special new shoes on, wearing his special new hat, a hat he bought especially for this night, a hat he bought especially to wear with this special outfit, a special outfit he saw himself shuffling the night away in, a special outfit that's now come to represent life's utter futlity and misery. He's stood there, all alone, as alone as it's possible to be, waiting for something to happen, waiting for someone to happen. It probably wont. Not tonight. Not tomorrow night. Not next week or the month or year or decade or lifetime after. It'll never happen.

HOW SAD DOES IT MAKE ME FEEL: I'm sat here, at work, crying into my tea, so sad that I can't even begin to think about peeling my afternoon orange. I'm that bereft, that emotionally altered by this photo that the thought of consuming a normally palatable citrus fruit is like ashes in my mouth.

I've ruined my own day, here. Hope I haven't ruined yours too.

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