Disco Gives Birth To House Music

Disco music gets a bad rap. People decry the genre as a plastic, soulless, producer-driven music fad that deserves scorn for being empty and unfulfilling. Many music fans were happy to see disco die in 1980, but the truth is that disco never passed on. It spawned a new generation of dance music that branched out and evolved into the global phenomenon known as house music. So how exactly did disco give birth to house music? Here's the story.

So a gay guy and a black dude walk into a warehouse....just kidding! Well, actually that's not too far off. Here's the short version.

    * Larry Levan started spinning disco records together at those crazy Paradise Garage parties in New York.

    * Soon after Disco Demolition Night (when white kids killed disco at a White Sox game), Chicago started developing a new, electronic, drum-machine happy sound.

    * Frankie Kunckles brought his gay-friendly crate of thumping disco tracks to Chicago and the kids got into it. Stuff like "Let No Man Put Asunder" from First Choice rocked the Warehouse in 1983.

    * Soulful, bangin' disco tracks collided with what-the-hell-sounding beats from Jesse Saunders, Farley Jackmaster Funk and a bunch of other DJs, remixers and record producer types in Chicago.

    * All the kids wanted to buy the records that were playing at the Warehouse in Chicago, and after some abbreviating -- the house music label was born.

    * In Detroit, Juan Atkins (/Cybotron), Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson originated a techno touch alongside the Chicago house music sound.

If you want to learn more, there's a video on it -- Pump Up the Volume. This documentary outlines the history of house music's muddied origins. From swinging disco tracks to squelching, experimental knob-turning, to the base kick of techno's first producers, this three-part video has it all.

Pump Up The Volume - History of House Music - Part 1

Part 1 starts with Larry Levan and the Paradise Garage and goes through the early house music scene in Chicago.

In Part 2, you can learn about how Brits got hold of the stuff and used their Northern Soul infrastructure and connections in Ibiza to club the music out to the Euro masses. Detroit's take on house also gets attention.

Part 3 takes you through some of the more recent house music scenes, you know -- all that splinter faction definition label stuff. Anything Goldie says is hilarious, and Armand Van Helden seems like a pretty chill dude.

Sure, these Google vids don't offer the best presentation. And yeah, some of the music you'll hear is a bit wack, but this documentary from 2001 is a bridge that connects the house music of today to the disco classics of yesteryear. Understanding the details of this evolution will give you a greater appreciation for the ever-evolving history of dance music.


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