Where did social dance originated?

Kirk Douglas: I’d like to point out that in the late 1980s the world of social dance began to change, and as a result the dance world went through a period of upheaval.

We had this new dance movement called electronic dance music which had a lot of new things happening in it. In the mid to late 80s, it started to seem like all the things that were associated with dance music weren’t necessarily what we thought dance music was. So there were two things going on – the movement of people from the dance worlds from around the world to electronic music and the emergence of a new kind of dance music.
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I think there are a number of different ways you can look at that. I think people had moved away from the folk dance world to electronic music and then that’s all happened – it’s a very rapid evolution of what is now known as house music, or dance music.

Did social dance gain popularity when it was not expected?

DJ Fergusson: No. Social dance was established at the turn of the century when house was very popular – that’s what people used to dance around, the big dance clubs had houses there, but it was not very much a thing in the wider culture. But in the United States, the dance scene began to develop more.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Chicago house pioneer DJ Paul Oakenfold: ‘I was really looking for the big clubs to try new things, and dance music was a part of it.’ Photograph: Mark Wallheiser/Getty

It was a part of the big dance scene in the States to develop house music, to get into big clubs like New York City’s Webster Hall or the Electric Ballroom. But at the same time, social dance was very much developed in America, and it didn’t see its first real exposure until the late 60s. That’s the beginning of its history in dance music.

Kirk Douglas: There was just a big cultural shift.

DJs and dance music have a lot in common… you have to do a lot of planning, you know?

DJ Fergusson: Oh yeah there is that. With a disco in the late ’50s, you need to plan a lot, just to get it going.

Kirk Douglas: Yeah, and a lot of the house music that I loved growing up in New York was being recorded on an analog tape, and that’s the beginning of how we had an audio tape