So you want to master shuffling - ya love to see it! Shuffling is one of my biggest passions in this life and something I hope to continue to do for a very long time! I’ve been shuffling for about 7 years now, but didn’t start cutting shapes or putting my videos out there for the world to see until 2020 (nerve-wracking sometimes but so fun!). It has been an amazing journey that has taught me so much about myself, has helped me heal tremendously, and has connected me to some incredible people! If you’re just getting into this world, welcome! And if you’ve been in it, you know the vibes! Here are 10 Tips to Help You Master Shuffling!
Mindset - Stay Positive + Trust Your Body
The first thing I notice with anyone wanting to learn or pick up shuffling who doesn’t have a dancing background is a “I can’t do this” “my body doesn’t move that way” mentality that will literally get you nowhere and keep your feet glued to the club dancefloor for the rest of your life. OR, you could choose to open your mind a bit to the possibility that with a little guidance and practice, you too can cut shapes in the club or some random alley with a cool backdrop, too!
This is a big one. One of the best ways to master shuffling is to watch the masters themselves - or just people whose style you truly admire. When I started shuffling in 2015, Elena Cruz was one of my biggest sources of inspiration and still is to this day. Since then, there have been hundreds of men and women who have truly stepped in and created their own styles, their own groups, and many of them teach classes online and in person! You can always do a hashtag search on Instagram or TikTok for #shuffledancer and take your pick, but some of my other favorites throughout the years that i’ve learned a lot from and truly admire are Vanesa Seco, Rebel, Sammy Steads and as of recently @igotmovesbabe - she’s a really amazing girl who drives trucks and shuffles around the country! How cool is that?
Whether you’re young or old, a seasoned dancer/athlete or just starting to get into fitness - it’s always SO crucial to stretch every single day! I have learned this the hard way, as I tend to work out often and am always on the run, not always getting to stretch. Lack of stretching leads to stiffness in movement and it can also lead to injury, so make sure you’re doing some dynamic stretches before your shuffle and some deeper stretches post-shuffle; plus, a little foam rolling does the body real good.
Drills x Practice
One of my favorite ways to learn any move is to simply drill it. Let’s say you’re struggling with cowtails (which I was for the longest time) - what you want to do is watch someone do it slowly from multiple angles like Vanseco is known to do in her IG tutorials, and then practice practice practice! Whether you’re practicing in front of a mirror or your phone, repetition is key. For cowtails specifically, I realized I had to do a lot of hip stretches since my tight hips were not allowing the best range of motion, and dancing to your favorite song will help with flow!
Record + Watch Yourself
A lot of times, people will say they can’t shuffle because they don’t have a mirror to practice in front of. Well, neither did I for a long time! I would walk or drive somewhere with a nice background, put my phone down and record myself dancing to watch and improve my form - it works every time! On top of improving your form, you will also gain a little confidence when it comes to performing *IF* you choose to upload your videos anywhere. It’s honestly a lot of fun and you gain an amazing community along the way! You’d be surprised at who you inspire!
Join a Group // Shuffle with Friends
The shuffling community has only grown exponentially in the past few years and it’s been so incredible to see entire cities have their own shuffle squads, shuffle meetups, shuffle classes being offered in gyms, etc. Many times, you can find these groups on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok - you name it. All you have to do is a little research! For example, if you live in Salt Lake City you can search #SLCshufflers where you’ll find @saltbasscityshufflers or #Denvershufflers who has the @milehighshufflers! Other notables in larger cities who often host meet ups are: @LAshufflesquad, @namelessshufflers and @miamishufflesquad, to name a few. Still haven’t found one or don’t have one in your city? CREATE ONE. That’s what I did! Shuffling alone is amazing and one of my favorite things to do but shuffling with other people is a feeling and an experience that is so transcendent - it’s such a pure vibe where you connect with your fellow humans on such an elevated frequency. 10/10 would recommend!
Some of the biggest names in the shuffle community have started to teach classes online and in person and are 100% worth looking into if you’re looking to uplevel at ANY stage of your shuffle journey. I recently took a 4-hour shuffle class with Elena Cruz and Mark Tore and even though I was panting and sweating my head off by hour 2 (ok fine hour 1), I learned so much and pushed myself outside of my comfort zone since choreo is one of my weak points that I hope to strengthen! Everyone learns differently and everyone teaches differently, so make sure to try out a few and see who you vibe with the most. I personally love learning from Elena, Vanseco and Rebel the most, but there are so many people teaching now that it won’t be difficult to find the right instructor for you.
What I've learned is that if you want to become a better shuffler, you have to be actively working on so many aspects that could improve your game. When you look at shuffling like a sport, how do you get better? You work out. You don’t skip your leg days because strong legs are what help you get the power in your kicks or master your spins or your moonwalk. Running or doing additional stamina building exercises (I personally LOVE spin) will help you dance for longer and going to yoga or pilates will 100% improve your range of motion and flexibility! See what I'm getting at? If you love this and want to see yourself absolutely crush it? Work out. Eat well. Sleep right. STRETCH! Then shuffle your heart out.
Choose the *Right* Shoes
When I started shuffling, I was obsessed with Vans and Converse. Eventually, I realized I could do more toe spins, stalls, moon walk and glide better when I had the support of platforms. However, the issue I have with platforms (specifically The Run Star Hike Platform) is that they’re heavy and a little clunky, making it harder to be agile and light on your feet, but it really depends on what kind of dancing you’re doing and where you’ll be doing it. For example, I prefer converse & vans platforms to wear to festivals because they always compliment an outfit better and they’re not as heavy as Demonias - even though I've shuffled in them too and it’s not the worst unless you’re trying to lose a toenail, which I did. Not to get grotesque on main but I've lost my big toenail multiple times and when I reached out to Rebel, she recommended I switch up my foot gear. Her recommendations? Nike Air Max 98, 97, or 90. Shout out to Rebel!
But, at the end of the day, it really comes down to personal preference. So try a bunch of things out, check out what your favorite shufflers are wearing, and know that shuffling in platforms is possible but do it at your own risk fam!
Practice at a Festival or Show
There is absolutely NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING that even comes close to the feeling of feeling the music and letting yourself just flow freely at a music festival or seeing your favorite artist live. My biggest advice is when you start shuffling, don’t be afraid of being seen or perceived (even though this is something i’ve struggled with for a long time), just forget the world around you and connect with the music. All those days in front of the gym mirror and here you are, living your best life, connecting with the music and people like never before, and before you know it: you’re flying. So just have fun with it!
Find Your Flow // Just Be Yourself
At the end of the day, shuffling is all about expressing yourself to the music and the feelings in your soul that music creates. You wanna throw in the Macarena mid-shuffle? Go off then! Add a little (OR A LOT of) flair to your moves by utilizing your arms, keeping your chest and chin up and truly stepping into your individual flow. Although you watched countless hours of some of your favorites doing their thing, now it’s time for YOU to do yours! So don’t beat yourself up if you don’t look like Vanseco or Elena when you dance off the bat or EVER! What matters is that you move like YOU, that you feel your happiest most authentic self when you’re dancing and add the spice only YOU can bring! You got this. Just be who you are and groove to the music that speaks to you the most and I promise you will find that flow in no time.
Make sure to tag us in your shuffle videos using #iheartraves & @iheartraves for a chance to be featured on our pages! Can’t wait to see you crushing those dancefloors!