THE ART OF EXPRESSION "HOUSE DANCE"
DJ FRANKIE KNUCKLES
DJ LARRY LEVAN
DJ LARRY LEVAN
The term "house music" is said to have originated from a Chicago club called the official name was "US Studio," dancers started calling the club "The Warehouse" which existed from 1977 to 1983. Clubbers to The Warehouse were primarily black, who came to dance to music played by the club's resident DJ Frankie Knuckles, whom fans refer to as the "godfather of house". Frankie began the house trend by splicing together different records when he found that the records he had weren't enough to satisfy his audience. He would use tape and a knife to accomplish this. After the Warehouse closed in 1983, the crowds went to Knuckles' new club, The Power Plant. In the Channel 4 documentary Pump Up The Volume, Knuckles remarks that the first time he heard the term "house music" was upon seeing "we play house music" on a sign in the window of a bar on Chicago's South Side. One of the people in the car with him joked, "you know, that's the kind of music you play down at the Warehouse!", and then everybody laughed. South-Side Chicago DJ Leonard "Remix" Roy, in self-published statements, claims he put such a sign in a tavern window because it was where he played music that one might find in one's home; in his case, it referred to his mother's soul & disco records, which he worked into his sets. Farley Jackmaster Funk was quoted as saying "In 1982, I was DJing at a club called The Playground and there was this kid named Leonard 'Remix' Roy who was a DJ at a rival club called The Rink. He came over to my club one night, and into the DJ booth and said to me, 'I've got the gimmick that's gonna take all the people out of your club and into mine – it's called House music.' Now, where he got that name from or what made him think of it I don't know, so the answer lies with him."
House was the first direct descendant of disco. In comparison with disco, House was "deeper", "rawer", and more designed to make people dance. Disco had already produced the first records to be aimed specifically at DJs with extended 12" versions that included long percussion breaks for mixing purposes. The early 80s proved a vital turning point. Sinnamon’s "Thanks To You", D-Train’s "You're The One For Me", and The Peech Boys "Don’t Make Me Wait", a record that has been continually sampled over the last decade, took things in a different direction with their sparse, synthesised sounds that introduced dub effects and drop-outs that had never been heard before.
It is also an umbrella term that represents all the different dances that are incorporated with house music and club dancing. The groove in house is generally referred to as the “Jack”. It was the groove that came from the warehouse parties in Chicago. It wasn’t necessarily a style or a move. Once House hit the New York area, it collided with Hip-Hop and formed house dance foundation as we see it today.
Between 1977 and 1987, the Paradise Garage was one of the most important and influential clubs in New York City with a devoted patronage comprised of sexual and ethnic minorities (primarily African-American gay men).
With resident DJ Larry Levan and other DJs as the center of attention, it influenced dance, music, and culture both nationally and internationally as the birthplace of the modern nightclub.
Paradise Garage was a semi-underground club focused solely on music and dance. Unlike many other clubs at the time, it was membership only – not open to the general public. Moreover, it did not discriminate among its membership based on race, class, or sexual identity.
HOUSE DANCE ( a.k.a. " Clubbing"): a dance style that emerged and evolved from a movement in NYC in the mid-80s called, " CLUBBING".
House Dance is an amalgamation of the post-disco era. A lot of their movements and what took place in certain key places, the Jack and a number of clubs after that. It was a community based dance so vocal points were surrounded by music and DJs, but many of the dancers who were not looking to create, ended up becoming a part of that dance vocabulary."
The major source in house dance movement stems directly from the music and the elements within the music such as jazz, African, Latin, soul, R&B, funk, hip hop, etc. The other source is the people, the individuals and their characteristics, ethnicities, origin, etc.Various African Dances as well as Samba/Salsa steps were also incorporated into house and evolved into moves called Stomps, Farmers, Swirls, etc. Much of the footwork we see today also derive from some tap and hip-hop, but with a different feel when they were brought into house. Lofting is also a dance style done to house at the time, involving more graceful movements, spins, and ground work.
You have people of all walks of life partying under one roof. Thus you have exchanges of information (body language) house dance is a social dance before these competitions.
In house dancing, there is an emphasis on the subtle rhythms and riffs of the music, and the footwork follows them closely.
In the early progressions of the dance, there were hundreds of phenomenal dancers that were key in its progression in this social dance scene. However, out of the many there were few instrumental in the introduction of New York house dance culture across the globe. Some of these dancers are Ejoe Wilson, Brian "Footwork" Green, Tony McGregor, Marjory Smarth, Caleaf Sellers, "Brooklyn" Terry Wright, Kim D. Holmes, Shannon Mabra, Tony "Sekou" Williams, Shannon Selby (aka Shan S), Voodoo Ray, and others.
THE ORIGIN OF 'HOUSE DANCE'
In house dancing there is an emphasis on the subtle rhythms and riffs of the music with the footwork following closely (the more on-time one was with more than just the heavy beat, the more one’s moves and style were noticed, appreciated and even duplicated or modified) making it the main feature that distinguished house dancing from disco dancing and the foot stomping that emerged as the current form of dancing that is done to electronic dance music as part of the rave culture.
A lot of today’s house dancers began as b-boys (better known as breakdancers). “A lot of us started out as hip-hop monsters” says Marjory Smart, one of the most prominent female house dancers and someone with who I’ve witnessed. These heads came up in the late ’80s when the influence of hip-hop “made the movements more aggressive.” The different coasts brought with them different interpretations. Chicago along with nearby Detroit was known for its harder “jacking” sound, with lots of techno and acid house influence. The East Coast had a lot of hip-hop influence, and the West Coast tended towards the more commercial music and had a lot of b-boying in their style. Eventually dancers were sharing, exchanging and inspiring one another from city to city. One of the basic movements of house dancing is the “Jack,” which is a movement of the torso in an almost rippling effect. Chicago is known for originating the Jack, which comes from the body grooving to the harder sounds of early Chicago house. A natural extension was a move called the “Farmer,” which looks like one is bouncing up and down while stomping their foot on the ground.
New York house dancers continued codifying these steps and had more terminology such as Loose Legs, the Train and the Skate. Monte, a Jamaican-American, mentions that Jamaican “skanking” informed a lot of these steps. It was a dance a lot of the Rastas were doing, and much of the heel-toe steps seen in house dance borrow from this form. Hands down, all agree that the greatest influence on what is now known as house dancing is African dance. The footwork, the movements of the torso, and the polyrhythms played by the drummers in African dance were attuned to the music. It made you listen not just to the obvious top beat, but to all the other rhythms within the song. “Every form of dance has its roots in African dance” . “If I listed all my influences, it would take up a whole other article,” says Marjory, “but it was the Carribean rhythms that were my foundation.” Also with house dance, a lot of tap influence can be seen, not to mention the graceful movements and acrobatics of capoeira.Other countries have huge house scenes, with dancers from the US going overseas to share this dance style. Japan carries a huge following of house dancers, many who traveled in drove to New York to learn. Other countries with burgeoning scenes are France, Canada and Holland.
What is really interesting to see is a circle in which both b-boys and house dancers participate. A lot of the latter began as breakers, but the older they got, the more they appreciated the beauty of dancing instead of flashy crowd pleasing stunts. Many house dancers tend to be older than the b-boys. Some take a stern view and challenge: when the tricks and flips are done.
Another interesting observation was made with regards to female dancers. “Women used to dance like women,” Sekou says. “You used your strengths, your femininity, as opposed to now where the women feel like they have to dance like men in order to keep up with them.”Ultimately, there really is no strict definition to what is hip-hop dance or house dance. people call it “flowing free or free expression”, while i believe it’s about “freeing yourself as a human. House is a feeling and a culture. It’s not something you put on in the club and take off when you leave. House has its pulse, but it has to live in you.”
HOUSE DANCE HISTORY
CHECK YOUR BODY AT THE DOOR
A documentary about underground NYC club dancers in the 1990's
Is a film about some remarkable underground House dancers in NYC during the golden decade of the 1990s. It follows master free-stylists into the clubs, their jobs, and their everyday lives. Filmed in the studio as well, the dancers’ virtuosic moves are brilliantly revealed in silhouette or light pools. In their words, they describe clubbing, why they dance, how they dance, and what it means.