dancing and aligning cultures

“every day I am shuff-l-in” ….

I just heard this song again after years. At the time it was played, well, everywhere and every hour.

Anyway. I decided to write about this song and dance that comes along with it because cultural behavior is a fascinating thing to watch from the outside looking in. Especially when you look at the grassroots aspect of dancing and a particular dance that seems to capture the attention of everyone.  A dance can draw together any color skin, any age (albeit that can look bad on a dance floor) and any culture.

  • The Macarena (bad).
  • The shuffle (pretty good).
  • The two step (ok)
  • The Charleston (good stuff)
  • The moonwalk (impossible for middle aged white men).

Doesn’t matter the generation.  There is always some “dance” (a move or a choreographed group move) that captures the imagination and soul of people that draws everyone together and even the worst (the most inept and uncoordinated) are enabled to be creative.

Party Rock anthem by LMFAO and the song dance was their upbeat version of the shuffle.

The song was a dancy addictive like song. The dance is something anyone can do.  They looked wacky but that made all of us okay looking wacky. And it looked fun.

The video is funny (the box head dancer is priceless) and shows this generation’s line dancing at its best.

The LMFAO ‘shufflin’’?

  1. Half a Charleston.

  2. Side to side (shuffle).

  3. And a little MC Hammer.

  4. and a lot of self expression

They even created an official tutorial.


And then, at that time, there were even dozens of home made videos on youtube on top of the fold that teach you how to start shufflin’.


It all made me think about music and dance.

Its pretty crazy to think about  how a fad and a practiced move (even for non-traditional dancers) can create the “zone” – kind of a weird calm entering a typical chaotic party social scene. It creates a moment in which there is a sense of order. I would even suggest this kind of line dancing is an equalizer socially.

For one moment in time anyone can be cool.  Can be part of the crowd.  Can be creative and coordinated and part of the ‘scene.’

And the teacher  is a cultural icon  – in the form of a music video – and the whole action is a mixture of other ‘key elements’ from which it came from. In the end not everyone has to have the same step or groove everyone else has – you just are able to dance within the style with your own style.

So the beautiful part is that a dance is not owned by an individual (therefore the individual loses the inherent risk of looking stupid in creativity) and, yet, the dance is quite individual (self expression). There is  a subconscious acceptance of being inspired and being able to learn crucial to the art of music and dance and creativity which is ‘freeing’ in self esteem and self expression and probably the most important – self actualization.

This is nothing is new (not the dance itself nor the behavioral trend). Everything is learned through observation, inspiration or direct education. Even the most unique dancers out there will tell you about original influences – people or video or some inspiration that made a difference in their life and style.

Everyone starts somewhere.

And while I scoff at the Macarena and applaud the ‘good line dance’ I do celebrate this video and song in that one of the greatest things an artist in any art form can do is to help move things along and never let creativity die. Dance should always be about self-expression expression and in this case they captured the cool & the non cool people and offered an opportunity for all to be aligned doing something positive and fun.

And it is crap like this that energizes people.

Its a shared moment in culture.

Through dance and music.

And I love it.

I love the randomness of how it all comes down to the right song and the right ‘move’ and the right place in time.  It is an unplanned event, which creates incredibly positive, ripples as an effect on culture and attitudes and basic fun-based cultural behavior.

For one moment.  Short minutes (too short in my mind). People who have absolutely nothing in common will gather together and be aligned – in mind, in body and in spirit.

Now that, my friends, is cool.

In addition.

Beyond simply getting different cultures together in  a social environment dance can reach even farther.  It can reach out and align people around a cause.

One year I was watching the European MTV awards and was reminded how dance can bring the world together. That year Shakira won the free your mind MTV international award for creating the waka waka dance video supporting education for all children (and I have a full post on this topic).

Anyway. Over 200 million participated. Yeah.  200 million. No one in America paid attention, but Shakira (working thru the UN) created education initiatives (enhanced with something fun like this dance) throughout South America and emerging countries and rural geography where it is difficult to create the traditional brick and mortar education system. This is the Waka Waka dance.

This is a great example of how dance can contribute to a greater good … and have fun.

And to end this little thought I wanted to include the ultimate in uncool being cool just for 2 minutes simply because of the universal aspects of dance and music:

The Napoleon Dynamite dance.

Anyway. In a world that often seems incredibly fragmented if not divided, dance and music can bridge almost anything. Maybe we could all use more of that.

Written by Bruce