Evolution of Club Music: Disco to Dubstep

Social clubs have stood as a gathering point for youth culture throughout many musical decades. The first ‘clubs’ were ballroom events for the wealthy, live bands dedicated to serving the upper echelon. The home radio democratised music, reaching the ears of the middle to upper classes that could afford them. By the time turntables came around, large portions of society were avid audiophiles and looked for a place to share their love for music.

The late 60s were not limited to open-air concerts ala Altamont and Woodstock. Besides countryside festivals, music recentered itself as an urban movement. Electronic forms of making music brought new sounds and evolved the taste of the masses. Disco was formed in a flourish, utilising previously impossible mimicry and overlap techniques.

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Acid, marijuana and other recreational drugs filled these parties, often held in cultural hotspots such as New York, Chicago and Detroit. The party-goers were of various ethnicities and sexualities, helping to diminish former perceptions of segregation. The music broadened in scope and size, covering topics such as institutional racism and the socioeconomic problems of society.

Eras of Club Music

The following decade would further the mix of music. Beat-matching, a technique used by DJs in synthesising different songs, became the go-to standard of club quality. Anyone who manned the turntables should have a diverse number of songs and be able to improvise on them through scratching and sampling. Alex Rosner and Francis Grasso were among the popular DJs, innovating through treble balance and creating custom speakers.

In the 1980s, synthesisers became all the rage. Japanese technology also brought in advanced drum machines in the form of 808s. Combined, the explosion of vocal pop benefitted the likes of Duran Duran and ABBA. Clubs refined older techniques and seamlessly blended songs together by digitally altering the BPM. No longer did a DJ have to scour for a similar beat rate. Instead, pop songs could be cut with anything by changing the beat rate.

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The ’90s grew in diversity as hip-hop took over. Groove and dance gave way to the more intense genre of hip-hop, a marker of cultural acceptance and progress. DJs of this era often made their own covers of songs live scratching and remixing done live to entice the club audience.

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In our modern era, EDM and dubstep have progressed into mainstream music, permeating the radio waves. Nowadays, specialist clubs have formed to play to specific audiences. This occurs since music has spawned countless genres and sub-variants. Wherever you may be, the influence of social clubs has helped speed along with the spread of music and those evolutions of music taste.

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Written by Adlan Haziq

Maybe a little too obsessed with bands...

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