I have been thinking about the words “shuffle” and “shuffling” in relation to play practice and production of space. The word “shuffle” can mean a clumsy, plodding step (“just shuffling along”); the act of pushing gradually (“let’s see if we can shuffle this along”); or a deliberate method of injecting chance and disrupting order (“shuffling the cards”).
So, of course, I got the song “Party Rock” stuck in my head on repeat (though on shuffle would be more appropriate). In the LMFAO music video, dancers move through city streets, transforming the space with their bodies. Every minute or so, the frenetic beat breaks and one phrase briefly stands alone: “Everyday I’m shuffling, shuffling.”
It seems that De Certeau’s description of the city as “an immense social experience of lacking a place” fits the “everyday shuffle” of the video’s city streets:
“To walk is to lack a place. It is the indefinite process of being absent and in search of a proper. The moving about that the city multiplies and concentrates makes the city itself an immense social experience of lacking a place- an experience that is, to be sure, broken up into countless tiny deportations (displacements and walks), compensated for by the relationships and intersections of these exoduses that intertwine and create an urban fabric, and placed under the sign of what ought to be, ultimately, the place but is only a name, the City. The identity furnished by this place is all the more symbolic (named) because, in spite of the inequality of its citizens’ positions and profits, there is only a pullulation of passer-by, a network of residences temporarily appropriated by pedestrian traffic, a shuffling among pretenses of the proper, a universe of rented spaces haunted by a nowhere or by dreamed-of places.”