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Brunswick Street

Brunswick Street

80min feature documentary about the underground dance style called the MELBOURNE SHUFFLE from 1990-2010, by Garry Shepherd.




The image above, is the cover art for the GLOBAL SHUFFLE MOVIE.

It's a scene from Brunswick Street in Melbourne (Australia) of a free dance party during the 1995 Melbourne Fringe Festival, Brunswick Street party.

The Brunswick Street party heralded the beginning of the 2-3 week Fringe Festival in Melbourne. It was generally held on a weekend around the start of September, which is the start of Spring in Melbourne in the southern hemisphere.

It was also the start of Festival season in Melbourne, typically followed by fashion festivals, racing carnivals with lots of new spring fashions and most notably hats. Milliners (hat makers) stood to make almost a years wages in the few short weeks leading up to the November Melbourne Cup day. Then it was Christmas/Summer annual holiday office parties, end of school year parties, end of Uni parties and the beginning of Raves going through to March the following year, usually the Easter holiday break in autumn, in the south.

Then came the winter hibernation. Melbourne can have very cold winters, such as we are in now, with the El Nino weather pattern (every 3-4 years) ended and the freezing blasts of the 'Roaring 40's' coming up from the south pole, causing everyone in town to say, 'It's cold' and shiver in the average 8-12C days.

Generally we stay inside in the warm, and do inside stuff, like watch movies, listen to music, read books, sit and chat, sleep late and focus on work, school, day to day humdrum activities, knowing there'll be plenty of time to get out and about once Spring hits again, as it always does, just as the world turns.

It was a sunny day for the Brunswick Street party 1995, lots of people were out, huge crowds 80,000 - 100,000 people over the day long celebrations. Mostly what we call 'Underground' people in Melbourne, the non-mainstream.

You wouldn't see mass advertising on TV or in the daily papers about it, no evening news stories. You would hear rumours filtering out to the suburbs though. Through underground communication networks and as far as the Community radio stations (all still on-air, going strong. Stream online) 3CR, 3RRR and 3PBS could broadcast on a clear day (about 10-20kms)

1995 was different to the previous Fringe Festivals, which had been going for more than 10 years then. We had commenced fulltime broadcasts of Channel 31 (C31) community TV in 1994, the same time as the Fringe Festival in 1994. I filmed lots of the 1994 Brunswick Street party and lots of Fringe Festival shows then and broadcast as much as I could fit into the very first weekly 30min C31 TV shows I produced called TOE-Theory Of Everything.

The C31 TV station was new, the first of it's kind in Australia that began life in the mid 1970's as community people sought to establish a communication form that wasn't controlled by either Big Business commercial TV or the Government ABC.

Making TV was a huge undertaking, well beyond the means of community based organisations, compared to Community Radio, which began first with 3CR, 3RRR in the mid 1970's and a bit later 3PBS. The Community TV wasn't forgotten, instead a (Still in business, going strong) facility based organisation began called Open Channel. It provided TV production gear, studio facilities and training for community folk and artists at low affordable costs located just off Brunswick Street.

All this was provided by a mix of volunteer and paid staff, generally through subscription, donations and resource fees and equipment hire. Everyone happy to contribute what they could in an effort to establish an independent community spirited place to share some of our cultures from the over 200 language's spoken in Melbourne.

The Brunswick Street party/festival was our annual Open Day. All free activities, bands, block parties, fashion shows and a 1 km long inner city street to mix and mingle. The rows of small businesses lining Brunswick Street would open their doors, attracting new customers to sample their food, music, fashion, mixing with old friends who'd generally crowd around out in the street catching up with the latest news, gossip and hear about various shows, parties and events coming up in the Fringe Festival.

Typically you'd start at one end of Brunswick Street and wander the entire length over an hour or so, then wander back. Stopping to watch performances, chat with friends, make new friends or visit shops and cafe's you'd never been to before. 2-3 hours later, you'd pretty much be done for the day and head home, or head off with friends you'd met on the day to go to a show or club, party etc later that night.

One notable difference in 1995, was the MELBOURNE SHUFFLE. Instead of the indie rock based bands of the 1980's that lined the street from one end to the other from Goths to American southern styled country, there was electronic dance music included, or 'techno' as we called it generically.

You could hear it from afar, the 'BOOM' of the bass and drums. The Melbourne Shuffle, or just 'the shuffle' as we'd call it, had emerged from the obscure old warehouses dotted on the fringe industrial areas of recession ravaged Melbourne early 1990's and come out to play in the broad daylight of the peak cultural event of Melbourne's underground. 1994 had a small techno crowd, more or less a bunch of 'fluro friends', due to  the florescent coloured clothing everyone wore that usually glowed in the dark under UV lights of warehouse parties. Clearly evening wear and a fashion faux par for many, these Ravers were happy to show off their bright coloured clothes and their Shuffle style to the underground community at large.

The Shuffle style generally applied to the dance steps, notable for fast and various foot movements that moved in strict time to the bass beat, but also applied to shuffle fashion and art sense.

The shuffle principle is based on the art style commonly called 'assemblage'. It's a mix and match style that can use virtually any medium, colour or shape to construct a whole. A person would assemble a collection of dance moves and fashion elements to form their own generally unique mix to express themselves.

It was very particular to the underground community which already had a whole range of dress codes which applied to whatever group of underground folk you belonged. For instance Goths, who'd been around in force since the mid 1980's, or the gay community who'd been running dance parties in warehouses for over 10 years by 1995, or the fashion folk, who often would show us all 'how you really do it' or how to really stuff-up trying to do it.

It was a feel-good happy community, the festival was a family environment and there was rarely any crowd control issues, everybody generally contributed to making it a fun, memorable day.

It's Winter Solstice today in Melbourne 21 June 2016, for people working in the Arts this is an important date. Traditionally it's when the days start turning from getting shorter, to becoming longer. A time of the beginning of the warmer part of the calendar year, a good time for most. It is also the start of the countdown to the 7 month festival season September-March in the south.

For Artists working behind the scenes, the clock is ticking, about 8 weeks until the Fringe Festival starts and in 12 weeks it'd be over, success or fail. Time to get the promotion gearing up.

Events for the Fringe Festival were usually booked up to a year in advance. Venues locked in, key personelle on team, paperwork done, the 'Show' pretty much done. 'Pretty much done' was okay then, but now it was time to actually get it done.

Usually for me I'd be working on design or music for a production. I'd be meeting with the director, stage manager and key personelle to have coffee and discuss the show schedule. Finished Artwork for posters and press releases would need to be delivered within a week or two, radio shows promotional guest spots locked in, everyone up to speed for promotion, then the production rehearsals would start. Generally 4 weeks of intensive work.

Most of the creative product, design and writing would have already been completed months ago. Now it was time to make it happen, in real life, not ideas.

The adrenalin would start pumping, the excitement would build. The meetings would get to be peaks in the week, a time when we got together for updates and to see and hear how the production was coming together, or falling apart. If there were problems you wanted to know soon and quickly to get them sorted. Last minute personelle changes, unexpected events. With any physical event there can be many. You generally search for them with back-up plans at the ready.

The last minute change in the poster art design was almost a certainty for me. I'd get the phone call, 7PM at night, 'Garry, there's a problem, We'll be at your studio in half an hour. It's gotta be done tonight, the finished art has to be at the printers tomorrow morning 9AM, or we get pushed to the back of the queue and our schedule is thrown way out.' Everyone needed stuff done on time and by the deadline. Not just done, but 'brilliant', the show depends on it. The show also depended on everyone else doing their part brilliantly too.

There was always a collective energy pushing the production forward. Everyone had all sorts of investment in it, cash, careers, emotions, life. We lived and loved this stuff. There was nothing else we'd rather be doing, this was it, the culmination of a lifetime of personal career development, this was Showtime.

Showtime was a buzz I started experiencing in the 1960's. Living and growing up in the 1960's was a buzz just by itself, starting performing as a DJ for summer beach parties from 1965, then playing in live bands, seeing and hearing all the changes in fashion, music and lifestyle going on all around you was extraordinary. Brunswick Street in the late 1980's to mid 1990's had the same feel to me, it was the same as the mid to late 1970's as well. Just stuff going on all over the place. It was all you could do to just be there, often taking 10 years to absorb it all later.

I get the same buzz now 2016, I feel like a kid in the 1960's again, the anticipation as the weather chills my bones. The future will come, it will be good, we will make it good, that's what we do.

I've used the cacophony of motion that Brunswick Street had in the new graphic. It has a combination of upside down shadow and regular front view which is disorientating, as many were wandering the Brunswick street party at the time. So much to look at, too much to absorb. Everyone doing their own collection of dance moves, some slow dance steps some fast, some just a blur, all at the same time, all in strict time to the music's beat. The same year after year for the 20 years the Global Shuffle documentary covers.

The brown/yellow colour is used to reference old sepia toned photo's from the 19th century. This pic is after all 20 years old now, and the 'shock pink' as the colour was called in the 1960's with the new synthetic dyes that coloured synthetic psychedelic clothes of the 1960's reaching an intensity of colour that mirrored a similar intensity of colour experienced by the French Impressionists of the 19th century with the new synthetic oil based colours recently produced in the 19th century industrial revolution.

And all of them reminding me of the natural garden variety colours of nature found this time of year in Melbourne with the fallen autumn leaves (2 pics below) Liquidambar styraciflua (Liquid Amber) and pink/gold Camellia Japonica (Japanese Camellia) that I see in my garden every year reminding me, it's mid winter again. Time to gear-up and get back into it. What a great time of year :)


This is a clip from the GLOBAL SHUFFLE MOVIE called BRUNSWICK STREET, the opening track on the Cybafaeries and WolfDragons Album.

A cautionary note about the final shot of the car in the Brunswick Street opening parade in 1995. My jaw dropped when I saw how it was secretly being driven, fortunately others had spotted it before me too, and it was taken out of the Brunswick Street parade at a side street just a few meters past me by officials. We like to be edgy, but we like to be safe too. :-)