Who Started Dance Music?

Dance music has quickly become an international phenom, selling out stadium shows in an instant while once-obscure genres have become mainstream staples.

Modern popular dance music’s roots can be traced back to late 19th-century Western ballroom and social dance music eras of swing, jazz, rock n’ roll as well as R&B, funk, soul genres which ultimately gave rise to disco music.


Nightclubs began hiring DJs instead of bands to play dance tracks during the early 1970s. At first they would only play funk and uptempo soul music; but by late 1977 disco emerged with hugely popular artists such as Donna Summer, ABBA, the Bee Gees, Gloria Gaynor and producer Giorgio Moroder’s 1974 song ‘Love to Love You Baby’ using synthesizers in groundbreaking fashion which set the scene for modern electronic dance music.

Disco music combined elements from rhythm and blues, rock n’ roll, soul music, ska and Motown into an entirely new dance music genre known as disco. Additionally, Latin polyrhythms such as the cha-cha-cha and merengue were introduced; swing and jazz from the 1930s and 1940s also heavily influenced its development, along with R’n’B and later Glam and Hard rock influences.

Disco evolved into various styles of dance, such as go-go (which originated in Washington D.C.), boogie-woogie and jitterbug. Additionally, disco has had an influence on pop and country music with Dolly Parton and Bob Seger both releasing songs with disco-inspired sounds.

Musically, disco’s development was heavily influenced by various cultures and genres ranging from African American and Latino music to European classical and folk traditions. While its urban origins may have initially defined dance music’s popularity worldwide, its internationalization now makes its presence felt.

Soul Train was launched as a music/dance television show in 1971, Disco Magic/Disco 77 was broadcasted later that year and Dance Fever hosted by Deney Terrio became increasingly popular during this era. These programs and the film Saturday Night Fever (1977) further popularized disco in America. Thanks to advancements in amplifiers and speakers allowing louder and higher fidelity sounds as well as Roland TR 77 synthesizer, which Donna Summer used in 1974 when creating “I Feel Love”. Looping techniques employed during disco music would become common in genres such as house music and techno music as well.


House music emerged in Chicago and New York during the early ’80s as an offshoot of disco music, first created by DJs such as Frankie Knuckles. Popularized through underground nightclubs that provided partygoers a safe haven from daily stressors while experiencing bliss. Furthermore, this movement gave birth to club DJs – propelling them into rock star status overnight!

House music has evolved over time into various subgenres. Electro house is one such sub-genre; it blends pop music with electronic synthesizers and drum machines to produce an energetic genre with 128 beats per minute tempos; its basslines typically repeat themselves while featuring upbeat vocals.

House’s other form is acid house, which is defined by its bassline pulsing at 135 beats per minute, often featuring distortion from digital processing and featuring thick basslines with deep tones. Acid house was heavily influenced by UK dance culture – particularly Berlin where clubs like Tresor were established to promote these sounds.

Techno is a dark and driving variation of house music created in the mid 1980s by DJs such as Derrick May. The genre’s hypnotic soundscape was further enhanced by Roland TR-808 drum machine and TB-303 bass synthesizer; making it popular at parties using MDMA (Ecstasy). Techno soon gained widespread appeal throughout Germany and UK at that time where party drugs like Ecstasy became widely available.

Trance dance music first made an appearance on the dance scene during the 90s as an offshoot of both House and Techno. Its dreamy vibe came from combining influences such as New Age music with synthesizer pop, giving birth to an upbeat yet relaxing form of electronic dance music.

Other dance genres that developed in the 90s were drum and bass, which blended hip-hop breakbeats to house tempo with dub reggae influences (Roni Size, Goldie and Bad Company are notable exponents); downtempo was another form of hip-hop with subtle instrumental focus (Notable examples include Massive Attack and Tricky); UK Garage was another variant on rock music with reggae influences (Dave Seamen, Sasha and John Digweed are notable exponents); progressive House was yet another subgenre that favoured longer tracks that built to an ultimate crescendo;


Techno has long remained underground but recently gained mainstream appeal, thanks to various artistes adding their unique styles. Although now popular among fans of electronic music worldwide, techno remains underground but has recently come into its own through growing recognition from industry insiders and fans worldwide. Additionally, numerous artistes have added unique flavours that has further developed it over the years.

Techno is an EDM subgenre that first emerged in Detroit during the late 1980s, drawing inspiration from European synthesizer music. This style was pioneered by three high school friends named Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson; these three became known as The Belleville Three and considered pioneers of techno. Their music inspired new producers and dancers like Afrika Bambaata and Arthur Baker to take up this form of electronic dance music production and dancing.

These three pioneers of music were widely recognized for their groundbreaking style of blending jazz, soul and funk with techno sound. Their groundbreaking work inspired artists like Donna Summer of Saturday Night Fever as well as modern pop trends. Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider (known collectively as Kraftwerk) had a tremendous influence on hip-hop music as well as techno, synthpop and post punk genres.

Techno evolved from house music by increasing tempo and abandoning arrangements in favor of repetitive looping atmospheres. It quickly gained attention among DJs such as Farley (Jackmaster) Funk and Carl Craig in America; soon thereafter it spread throughout Europe, where clubs and raves began cropping up everywhere.

Microgenres began emerging during the late seventies and eighties as DJs explored new instruments and sounds such as Roland TR-808s and Korg Poly-61s. At that time, musical exchange was more gradual; DJs could only gain access to obscure new sounds via distributors or international trips.

As dance music became more globalized, techno and other microgenres began to blend and fuse, eventually producing several distinct styles of dance music such as trance (characterized by metronomic beats and cosmic melodies), jungle (composed of fast hip-hop breakbeats and floor-shaking reggae bass), gabba (an ultrafast furor similar to heavy metal) and gabba.


EDM (Electronic Dance Music), has seen immense growth over the past decade. This genre has quickly become the go-to party soundtrack for many young Americans, offering instantaneous emotional and physical release through music that doesn’t promote relaxation but rather creates instant emotional and physical relief. EDM music can often feature fast tempo bangers with digitalized basslines; its visual style often turns DJs into celebrities. Social media streaming sites have helped EDM become widespread; providing an instantaneous way for everyone in the world to access EDM music instantly!

Electronic dance music differs from many popular musical genres in that its production utilizes digital software rather than traditional instruments, enabling producers to combine a wide range of sounds into one track with microphone recording or sampling; often including vocals recorded via microphone or sampled digitally; the sounds are then combined with tempo, rhythm and melody elements using Ableton Live, Cubase, Logic Pro or FL Studio as DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) programs.

Electronic dance music’s origins can be traced to disco, which combined soul, funk and smooth jazz-fusion with drum machines and synthesizers to form its soundscape. Artists like Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder helped pioneer its use of constant percussive beats and electric sound that would eventually evolve into genres like techno and house music.

In the 1990s, a new wave of DJs emerged who pioneered more experimental sounds within electronic dance music (EDM). They incorporated elements such as hip hop, drum & bass and trance music into their sound, popularizing it and helping it enter mainstream consciousness. These artists helped spread its reach and bring EDM mainstream.

Electronic dance music (EDM) continued its evolution into the 21st century with the emergence of subgenres such as dubstep, trap, and future bass. These genres feature faster paces than their predecessors while employing more synthesizers than ever. Furthermore, pitched-up vocal chops and arpeggios create more dynamic sounds; furthermore they place emphasis on strong bass lines and drum loops.