The Null Device

The new safety dance

The BBC has an article about a French dance craze named Tecktonik, which appears to break new boundaries in the commercialisation, monetisation and wholesale stripmining of subcultural fashions. Tecktonik appears to be a local evolution of the electro/new-rave/fluoro meme complex, born among predominantly white middle-class Parisian kids and hard-partying, style-conscious young professionals. Much like the French language (and unlike Anglo-Saxon equivalents), it has an official, codified repertoire of moves. Oh, and Tecktonik's creators (who include a Merrill Lynch investment banker) had the foresight to trademark their creation, and the arguable judgment to milk the licensing for all it's worth:
Switch on the television and you'll see kids dancing Tecktonik in adverts for mobile phones. Go to the supermarket and you'll find Tecktonik playstation games and Tecktonik school bags. And the Tecktonik company opened its first boutique and hair salon in Paris in November.
Of course, not everyone's happy with their subculture becoming a mass-market commodity. After all, coolness is what economists call a positional good (i.e., its value depends on its scarcity; if everyone's into something, it loses its value as a signifier of coolness; which is OK if you're talking about something with other, more practical, measures of utility, but trendy dance styles don't generally fall into this category).
"When you're young, you dance to tell your parents 'I'm a free man! I've got my sexuality, my desires and they aren't yours!' You dance to express your freedom! But, here, it's not this kind of dance. Because it's a commercial dance. It's a safe dance. No sex, no drugs, no alcohol… It's anti-rock 'n' roll! It's a Sarkozy dance!"
Curiously, the article closes with this paragraph:
Down at that Tecktonik Killer night, one of the star Tecktonik dancers, Lili Azian, tells me the movement has got so commercial she just never buys anything with the Tecktonik label. And now, in any case, she prefers a new dance - the Melbourne Shuffle.
The Melbourne Shuffle? I'm guessing they're not talking about the Melbourne in Florida or Derbyshire here, but rather of the Stockholm of the southern hemisphere. Which brings to mind the question of what the Melbourne shuffle is, and whom they got the idea from. (Architecture In Helsinki? Midnight Juggernauts? Corey Worthington? Some random bunch of coolsie electro kids on YouTube?)

There are 4 comments on "The new safety dance":

Posted by: lisa http://mrsmalkav.livejournal.com Fri Mar 6 08:02:32 2009

Wow. This is AMAZING. What a phenomenon! It's totally global and over a year old already! You can check out the differences between the two here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJoZRWHRli8

Posted by: Shno Fri Mar 6 09:52:47 2009

French guy here : Last year we saw "Tecktonik battles" on the street, but now it's already uncool.

Posted by: Greg Fri Mar 6 10:53:42 2009

1) There's a Wikipedia page about the Melbourne Shuffle. 2) I've never heard of it until this blog post. Goes to show how fragmented the music scene(s) is. I looked at a Youtube video and it just looked like any other techno dance to me, maybe flopping about more. Techno dancing looks like ska dancing to me.

Posted by: Fraser http://rogue-scholar.livejournal.com Fri Mar 6 12:26:38 2009

The Melbourne Shuffle is a legitimate techno dance style with a two-decade history. Here's a distant relation of mine doing it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxxMHxoCW4A And here it is being danced by some kind of compact robot from the future: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyRJmVX_sac

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