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Late 70's / Early 80's Post Disco / House Music

Late 1970’s / Early 1980’s Electronica Radio / Popular Disco


This period in dance music was characterized often by an emerging electronic sound that would pave the way for the next shift in modern dance music history and lay the groundwork for the new modern age in dance music and in general popular music.  Songs from this period would often be comprised of several layers of synthesizers and programmed drum tracks.  Some live instrument sounds would often be incorporated, such as guitar and horns since synthesizers from the late 1970’s could recreate orchestral string sounds (and thus, orchestras would often be replaced by synthesized string sections) but the synthesizers of this period were not yet able to successfully recreate the sounds of the guitar and/or horns. 


A backlash to Disco music (led by Chicago radio DJ Steve Dahl) would cause radio stations and major record labels to withdraw their support of dance music.  In addition to the artists listed below, Parliament Funkadelic, Prince and Gloria Gaynor were important artists from this period. 


Links to songs which are examples of music from this period include:


I Feel Love by Donna Summer -

Funkytown by Lipps Inc. -

Don’t You Want Me by Human League -




Late 1970’s / Early 1980’s Electronica / Club Disco / Euro Disco / Mutant Disco


Like the popular radio dance music songs from this period, the Club songs from this period were also largely comprised of synthesized electronic sounds.  Several artists from this period still carried the “live instrument torch” for Disco music, during this crossover period in the history of Modern Dance Music; some of these artists include, but are not limited to: Black Ivory, BumbleBee Unlimited, Chaka Khan, and Patti Labelle. 


In addition to the artists listed below, the Flirts, Bobby O, Afrika Bambaataa, and Sylvester were important artists from this period which began to push the electronic sound.  European artists began to influence the industry during this period in both popular /radio music and club music.  As the 1970’s ended, Disco was beginning to say its farewell. 


In 1979, Steve Dahl’s “Disco Demolition Army’s Rally” in Chicago’s Comisky Park blew up 10,000 “Disco” records, although in truth, many were just black R&B records.  Dahl whipped up the flames of jingo-ism by being an active voice for the “Disco Sucks” campaign which spread around the country and sounded the death-knell for popular/radio Disco and Modern Dance Music was driven underground, supported mostly by dance clubs.  Radio stations changed their programmed formats back to rock music and major labels and distributors withdrew their support of dance music and dance artists. 


Links to songs which are examples of music from this period include:


Trans Europe Express by Kraftwerk -

Disco Circus by Martin Circus -

Bostich by Yello  -

Dirty Talk by Klein & MBO -




Early 80’s Post Disco / House Music


This period in the history of modern dance music was dominated by Chicago artists who began buying drum machines and synthesizers and making their own music in home built studios.  It was the next step in the evolution of modern dance music.  Named after Robert Williams’ and Frankie Knuckles’ after-hours Chicago club the Warehouse, House music was born from the ashes of Disco.  Many of the songs which paved the way and provided inspiration for this next wave of music (House Music) were made in New York and Europe in professional studios. 


Chicago’s early experiments in House music were generally much more raw and gritty.  Many songs from the mid-1970’s and late-1970’s would have long, more reserved, less energetic sections which would lead up to an energy filled break-down (often the most coveted part of the song, usually called the “break”).  Early House music simply cut out the parts of the song which you listened to while waiting for the “break”, and just extended the break into a full length song. 


Very often, early DJ’s would edit older songs, to cut out the less energetic parts and extend the breaks to maximize the best parts of the songs and make the dance experience full of energy from the beginning of the song until the end.  In addition to the artists listed below, Ten City, Inner City, Marshall Jefferson, Fingers Inc., and Jamie Principle were important artists from this period.  Most dance music releases coming out of Chicago during this period were released on either Traxx Records or DJ International Records.  Radio stations in Chicago (WBMX) and New York (KISS) offered late night DJ mix shows.  Dance music began to make its return to the pop charts when John “Jellybean” Benetez wrote and produced Modanna’s first album.   When MTV began playing the video singles, her career skyrocketed and laid the groundwork for the artists of today.  Modanna ushered in the video era and since has continued to mix art, social commentary and sex in her delivery of dance music.


Links to songs which are examples of music from this period include:


Let No Man Put Asunder by First Choice -

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Inner Life -

On and On by Jesse Saunders -

Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood -

It’s House by Chip E -

Music is the Key by Steve “Silk” Hurley A/K/A J.M. Silk -

Music is the Answer by Colonel Abrams -

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