The Bounce: A Look At House Music and Dance
The Red Bull Music Academy Festival hits New York City in May and one of the events we're most excited about is Ballroom Bounce. Ballroom Bounce features DJs and dancers representing four different styles of dance and dance music including Housing, Vogueing, Jersey Club and Bruk Up/ Flexing on May 1.
Leading up to the event, The Boombox is spotlighting each style and the DJs and dancers who'll represent them in a series called The Bounce. For the first installment, we're looking at house music with world renown dancer Cricket as our guide to what's become an international phenomenon since its inception in the early '80s in Chicago and NYC clubs.
For many, including Cricket, their first taste of vibrant sights and sounds of house music came from hip-hop. It was the Jungle Brothers hit "hip-house" song 'I'll House You' that turned a generation of breakers and poppers into house dancers.
"That ['I'll House You'] brought me to house! That was my first house song," says Cricket of the early hip-hop house music hybrid. The crossover appeal of the song was intentional as its creators made it to connect younger hip-hop heads who wanted to move beyond b-boying into the house scene according to Cricket. "Todd Terry, the DJ who we're dancing for [at Bounce Ballroom], is the dude that made that track!"
House music -- believe it or not -- has its roots in disco music. As often the case with musical styles, the more soulful R&B-inflected subsection of disco was popularized by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff's Philly Soul of the '70s. That music played and remixed by house pioneers like the recently deceased legend Frankie Knuckles and Larray Levan.
"[House was created in Chicago, but its beginnings were [also] in the New York club scene, with, God rest his soul, Frankie Knuckles, who was learning from Larry Levan, who was the resident DJ at a place called the Paradise Garage," Cricket explains. "They were doing a lot of on-the-spot remixes. Larry Levan was a DJ, but not in the ilk of like DJs now who mix, you know? He was pretty much remixing on the spot, and it was more about track selection."
The phenomenon of making soulful disco even more danceable took a trip to the midwest where the new style took root and became something unto itself. "Frankie took that whole approach of remixing these songs and he took it with him to Chicago when he got a job at a club called the Warehouse, and when he started adding more beats per minute, to these remixes, and when he started putting out these mixtapes, like, cassette tapes, people would go to the record store and go 'Where can I get warehouse music?' And then it got shortened to just 'Where can I get 'house music?'” he shares.
What started off as disco derivative dance began to incorporate footwork from sources like breaking, West African dance and even Black fraternity style stepping. Now we have the modern house dance that has basic steps like "The Farmer" and "Pas De Bourree" with influences from all over including Brazilian Capoeira as practiced by featured dance Eriko of Japan.
If you want to see how the best in the world get down you need get your tickets for Bounce Ballroom ASAP. And, if the music moves you like we bet it will, you'll have the opportunity to show off your own fancy footwork. Details below:
Red Bull Music Academy Festival's BALLROOM BOUNCE
May 1 at 8PM ET
165 Banker St, Brooklyn, NY 11222