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THUMP’s Illustrated Guide to the Hardstyle Shuffle

Six steps for mastering the most beautiful and elegant dance known to humankind—the Melbourne shuffle.
March 7, 2014, 10:32pm

Illustrations by Erica Schapiro-Sakashita, words by Michelle Lhooq

The hardstyle shuffle, also called the Melbourne shuffle, for all you pedagogues or Australians out there, is one of the oldest and most revered of all dances. Without a doubt, it is one of the most fundamental expressions of the vigor of the human spirit known to the rave community—nay, the entirety of humanity.

The highly complex dance move's triumphant declaration of individual perseverance against the darkness of lameness can be explained by its historical origins. The first hardstyle shuffle was born in one of the most dark and harrowing recesses of the world—the underground rave scene of Melbourne, Australia during the late 1980s.

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While Europeans like to dance from the hips up, their hard-edged Australian counterparts distinguished themselves from their lily-livered ancestors with a dance that is entirely centered on their extremely muscular feet. With the vitality of a stallion on amphetamines, these Australian originators spent hours perfecting their most original dance form in any space they could trample on—from the basketball courts of the inner suburbs to the vacant lands of the countryside's paddocks.

While no shuffle is exactly the same—that would be a blasphemous insult to the daring originality of this most hallowed art form—several distinctive dance moves emerged under its umbrella. Thus, on the eve of one of the largest hardstyle festivals to grace our American shores—this weekend's Q-Dance in LA—we present THUMP's illustrated guide to the hardstyle shuffle.

THE RUNNING MAN

You can't do the shuffle without first mastering the Running Man. Them's the facts. Heads might remember that this move sprung into the mainstream via Janet Jackson's 1989 music video "Rhythm Nation" (thanks, Paula Abdul!). But everyone knows that MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This," was the hit that really catapulted the Running Man into the public consciousness.

This version is a minimalist, paired-down version of hip-hop's Running Man. Lift your right foot up just a tad, slide your left foot backwards to its toes, then plant your right foot back on the ground. Rinse and repeat.

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THE T-STEP

Keep your heels together, toes facing out, so that your feet get ino the shape of a T (duh). Then, lift your right foot just a little by pulling that knee up. At the same time, point your left foot's toes inwards. Put your right foot back on the ground, while moving your left heel back in to form another T. You should have moved to the right a little. If you feel like an arthritic grandpa, congrats—you nailed it.

THE GLIDE

Once you've mastered the Running Man and the T-step, you're ready to bedazzle your hardstyle shuffle with some fun little flourishes. The long, stretched-out glide acts as a counterpoint to the short, fidgety stomps of the Shuffle's signature moves. Basically, anytime you're doing some combination of the Running Man and the T-step, slide one leg out as far as you can across the floor. Then pull your other leg towards the extended one, and resume shuffling. The trick to making this look effortless is keeping your weight on the leg that isn't gliding. Also, thinking very hard about Michael Jackson.

KICKS

Not to be confused with the (auditory) hardstyle kicks that Deadmau5 infamously failed to master, the dance move version of the hardstyle kick is pretty simple. Start with the Running Man, but instead of placing your foot down on the ground, kick it forward with gusto—it helps to pretend that you're a kangaroo trapped in the Australian outback trying to fend off deranged wombats.

KICKS AND SPINS

This move is exactly what it sounds like. You're going to spin around while doing your angry kangaroo impression, but make sure you're spinning in the same direction as the leg you're kicking with. Also, use your shoulders and the foot on the ground to help propel your rotation, not the leg in the air. If you want to be really OCD about having the perfect kick and spin, pick points on the wall to line yourself up against.

EXTREME SPIN

For your last move, it's time to get EXTREME. Wait for the song's breakbeat, then spin around quickly like a 15-year-old Russian ice skater striving desperately to win the approving nod of Putin. Finally, resume the shuffle. And remember: Hardstyle iz lyfe.

Q-Dance is this Saturday, March 8 at LA's Shrine Expo Hall. Get your tickets here.

Michelle is a natural born shuffler - @MichelleLHOOQ