A Brief History of House Music
In December of 1978 famous club Studio 54 was stormed by New York police. Many believe that this is where the story of house music began. The truth is that house was born in the underground clubs of New York and Chicago sometime in the 70s. The genre quickly caught fire and spread all over the globe, infecting the population with its unique and powerful dance beats. House is thought to be one of the most influential musical movements of the 70s, affecting and spawning a wide variety of genres that came after it.
The Origins of House
The term House Music was born in the late 70s in a club called The Warehouse. This famous South Side Chicago space was home to DJ Frankie Knuckles who was otherwise known as the Godfather of House. DJ Knuckles began the house movement by combining disco and dance records that didn’t seem long enough to really dance to. As this was in the late 70s this splicing was done with a knife and sellotape. Despite the name House Music being connected with the Warehouse, it is not as simple as it may seem. The first time Knuckles discovered the actual term house music it was in the window of a Chicago bar. The bar owner meant it as the music played in his home, his mother’s jazz and blues records. When they saw the sign someone said house music would be the kind of thing he played at the Warehouse. Like many names and titles it just moved from there to colloquial use and then it simply became synonymous with the dance music the Warehouse was known for.
What Happened Next?
The Warehouse stayed open from 1977 to 1983 and once it closed the people were still desperate for the unique style of music they played. However, DJ Knuckles couldn’t be stopped and he soon opened a new club called The Power Plant. This was around the time that disco was beginning to fade out but house was there to take its place. Disco gave birth to house and like any parent, it passed on some of its features. House was much deeper, darker and rawer than Disco’s perky and upbeat strains. So there was a big space in music that disco had left that needed to be filled by something hip, new and modern. This was especially necessary when the Disco Sucks movement came to the forefront. The music world turned against disco in a big way and to stay popular styles needed to move on quickly.
In House Genres
In the mid 80s house had developed to the point where DJs were releasing original mixes and songs. The genres had spread amongst the Chicago DJs by this point and within the genre of house, other mini genres started to crop up. The primary genres that took off were deep and acid house.
Deep House originated with a producer in Chicago known as Mr Fingers. It moved house away from the slightly strange future of the genre and back towards the soulful feeling associated with disco. In the mid-80s there were those who were missing the lush melodies that older musical genres offered.
As the name suggests acid house was definitely a move forward towards what the genre was becoming. It was much rougher and edgier than older house music and was the first addition of synthesisers. It is often considered that this brand of house originated with a band called Phuture. The band released a vinyl record called Acid Tracks and were the first band to use the synth in house music.
Coming to the UK
On a holiday to Ibiza DJ Danny Rampling was converted to house music. In 1987 he took house back to London and founded Shoom. Shoom was how acid house and house, in general, is thought to have come to the UK. It is also where the famous smiley face imagery comes from. Another one of the earliest points in UK house music was a club called The Hacienda in Manchester. This club operated between 1982 and 1997, playing a wide variety of house music.
The Hacienda was opened by Factory Records and a band called New Order. The vibe of the club was very industrial, dark and had a garage feel. It is thought to have been responsible for leading the UK into the garage acid house feel before it quickly spread through clubs all over the UK. Their Friday night party known as Nude was a smorgasbord of imported house artists along with many that had started springing up locally.
As house evolved in the UK it took on a British vibe moving through into rave culture and post-punk. Here we began to see the neon, the intense change in fashion and a change in youth culture.
The introduction of house gave way to the 90s clubbing scene, which in itself spawned several different subcultures. Everyone started to do house differently but still with the overall goal of just making people dance. Acid and rave house took over somewhat during that 90s period. However, many clubs were still sticking to the original Chicago beats with old skool house. Unlike some of the music styles that came together to make house music, what house became was lasting and immovable. It was so easy to edit, customise and evolve that it became the staple of club music and simply never left. Still, the clubs of the UK play a wide variety of house, and there is usually something to suit everyone.
What started as a specific cultural form of expression grew and changed into something that surpasses global barriers. House can be found not just in UK clubs but all over the world. A music style that infectious will always be picked up, coopted and redistributed. Of course, there is so much more to house music than I have covered in these few words. It is a rich and complex history that deserves significantly more attention and is well worth researching.
Thanks for reading our blog post. Click here to connect with The Playlist DJ’s on Social Media and check out our playlists too.
We also have an House Music Amazon Shop you can check out.