05/06

House Keeping Part 2

By Geisha Bar

Fast Forward to 1981 and a rapidly approaching future. Larry Levan is holding DJ court at the legendary paradise Garage in NY (a club built in an indoor parking area) playing records from labels like West End, Prelude, Salsoul & Easy Street. Over in the mid west Frankie Knuckles is the king of Chicago – the resident at the Warehouse Nightclub (formerly a 3 storey factory) playing records from Philli International and Salsoul.

They were both about to change the face of dance music. How ? By giving it a face. Ironically Knuckles the undisputed godfather of house was second choice for the Warehouse after Levan turned it down. They both built massive followings at the clubs and reputations of mythical proportions. The term “House” music was coined after the Warehouse nightclub in chicago and “Deep House”was named after the 1987 Frankie Knuckles album. “Garage” (or New York House) was named after the Paradise Garage nightclub for its love of the song and heavy reliance on vocals.

Without dwelling on the political aspect of House music it was a gay, black scene in both cities. A celebration of exclusion, what with racism , a minority group and the detested disco in a three deck mix. Knuckles referred to the Warehouse as “a church for those who have fallen from grace”. Funny enough this new house music ensured that rumours of disco’s death were well and truly exaggerated. It just came back in a better shirt and with a stronger back-beat.

House’s development was blessed by NY and Chicago’s rich musical heritage and the lack of new disco product because it meant that Knuckles and Levan would tamper with the tunes they had, editing breaks and melodies on reel to reel tape recorders and adding their own twist. Throw in a growing Europop menu of Italian and German extraction and the new sound was taking shape.

The watershed moment for dance music was the moment when the DJ’s and afficianados  started to make tracks of drum patterns using reel 2 reel and also with the help of new dirt cheap drum machines such as the Roland 303. A growing band of Dj’s emerged in the slipstream of these notable clubs and every mixmaster was looking for new tricks, effects and gimmicks to drive the crowds into a frenzy. The beats were enriched by electronic kick drums, synchronized hand claps, the crisp hiss of the high hat and choruses erupting out of massive drum rolls following atmospheric breakdowns. These developments were heaven sent for all concerned. Now all bets were off and DJ’s were going to make the music dance for THEM…..

Part 3 Next week