The Hungry Happy Hippy: Shuffling our way through the pandemic

The Running Man dance step is pretty apt for the times we are in. After all, doesn’t it feel like we’ve been running in place but not really getting anywhere since this time last year? But, dark humour aside, Shuffling or Shuffle Dance has really caught on worldwide, especially on social media.

Everyone and their uncle is popping on videos, both solo and synchronised. It looks like a lot of fun and a way to keep fit minus any major gear. So, I thought, I should get shuffling too. I watched some online tutorials to get into the groove. The slide wasn’t that hard – Mumbaikars are pretty adept at side-stepping unmentionable stuff we encounter on the sidewalks. And the stomp? Well, they do call it the ‘roach killer’ for a reason! But to truly kill it like an influencer, I realise you need to have so much more than talent. And now that location, location, location is moot (we’re all stuck at home!), getting the look is everything.

I scrolled through all the videos by Los Angeles-based actor and my favourite famous shuffle dancer Kelli Erdmann (@kelladactyl). Apart from Happy Kelli’s cute smile, I saw that boiler suits in pop hues and hot, male co-stars are the must-have accessories to be a shuffle diva. As Hollywood hunks aren’t considered pandemic essentials, I went ahead and ordered a clutch of jumpsuits. Now that they’re here, I’m halfway to Shuffleville.

Other must-haves in shuffledom tie in with the spread of the loungewear epidemic… err… trend. Think velour pajama sets in popsicle shades, easy-movement joggers with drapey hoodies, crop tops with drawstring cropped pants. Or that summer staple, shorts, which shuffle dancing sensation Akanksha Singh Aggarwal (@shufflewithakanksha) ably pairs with a variety of stylish tops, when she isn’t dancing in a – wait for it – sari! She got hooked on shuffling when she first tried the ‘stair shuffle challenge’ last year and is now well known in shuffle circles. Her friend Aadi (@aadiinmotion) specialises in shuffling in traditional Indian attire around heritage buildings, while Neeraj Singh (@neeraj.shuffler) is all about urban freestyling wearing hip sportswear as a contrast against the cityscapes he uses as a backdrop.

Those identifying as male could take inspiration from their feeds. Or, if you follow ace cricketer Shreyas Iyer (@shreyas41) on Instagram, you’ll have seen his cool moves with choreographer Dhanashree Verma Chahal (@dhanashree9), sporting classic comfy gymwear.

The right soundtrack is essential too, of course. But whether I’m dancing to Roses (Imanbeck Remix) by Heartbits like them, Ke Cap gap Ba Gia TikTok by PiuPiu that Kelli made so popular, or Sunidhi Chauhan’s Girls Like to Swing, I realised the most important thing that I’m missing. It’s the white sports shoes!

Made notorious across the world by fanny pack-packing American tourists in the ’80s, they’ve been back in style for a while. Just like the fanny pack. But unlike those, which were in fashion again for less than a moment, voluminous white kicks seem to be ruling the shuffleverse.

It did get me thinking though. Veteran actor Jeetendra may not have been a great dancer but was certainly enthusiastic enough to earn the label of Jumping Jack. His contemporary, Mithun Chakraborty, got the country tapping their feet when he bust out his disco moves. Both of them were seen in white shoes much of the time. And just like the masters of shuffle today, they often had back-up dancers to sync their slide and stomp with too. And yes, this must be said – although today’s shuffle is said to have originated in Melbourne only in the late 1980s, it’s very evident when you look at the retro videos from Bollywood that their steps were the precursor to what everyone’s practicing these days. There’s always a little bit of the past in the present, isn’t there?

But whatever your motivation, be it a dad dance or the latest TikTok challenge, don’t just stand there and shuffle your feet awkwardly… Go get the shuffle style!

(The writer is an independent Lifestyle Journalist and Bespoke City Guide)

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