Where did House music came from? How did it develop? Who invented the genre?

It's hard to say exactly when it was heard for the first time and who "invented" it even though there are some known people and places.

There are even more names, places, situations and stories that may not be so familiar, yet obvious, which had a significance importance in the development. There are also different interpretations as well as perceptions of what happened, where it started, who were involved, etc. We have our interpretation and it is that one we intend to present here.

Our interpretation and perception is based on the amount of material we have reviewed like interviews, movies, newspapers, books, articles, stories and much more that we have spent many hours on, even years if you count the years of experiences that some of our Dj's have as well as a very serious and genuine interest in House music. This article will also be about the development of nightclubs to what we have today and, to a certain extent, the dj culture. These topics go hand in hand and the people involved are a major reason why our night clubs and nightlife culture look like it does today.

Where, when and how did it start?

It is impossible to say exactly when and where in the Usa the development began and evolved before it was named House music in Chicago in the mid 80's when it was officially exploding. It is possible to go a long way back but somewhere we have to draw the line so we start around 1970. To understand the development we need to know how life in Usa was in general those days, how and what the nightlife consisted of etc. This will be a journey through time.


Stonewall Inn

Stonewall Inn

Around this time, we must remember that life did not look like it does today. Among other things, it was common for homosexuals to be harassed by the police. Clubs and bars where most of the visitors were homosexuals were often exposed to raids and it was common for the owners to pay large sums of money in order not to close the business. Nevertheless, there were several who had to close down. There was one big event that became well known, the Stonewall incident in 1969 in Manhattan, New York. The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar where the police an early morning 28th of June conducted a raid.

Police quickly lost control and large conflicts occurred for several days and the event is considered to be the starting point for gay liberation movement. Homosexuals did not have many places they could be.

Nightlife and nightclubs then

Nightlife was also different than now. For example, it was unthinkable that men danced with each other, which today is completely natural and nothing strange. Sound and light in the nightclub environment were simple, especially the light. At most there might been some simple single-colored spotlights that flashed in different pace and sequences using simple sound-to-light units. If you wanted to change color, you could put a color filter in front of the spotlight or change the lights to colored lamps. That wasn't something you would do while they were running. There was some more advanced light fixtures (even early moving heads) but these were very expensive and custom made only which resulted in them being rare. The sound on the other hand was very experimental and today's technology for making loudspeakers with greater efficiency was not available at that time.


Francis Grasso

Francis Grasso

Before 1970, DJ's worked more like a jukebox, ie played the audience wishes and beatmixing did not exist. There were often breaks between the songs.

But then a guy named Francis Grasso appeared. Francis played tracks the audience would never have asked for and he became famous for creating a feeling on the dance floor, something he called "music programming".

He developed the technique of beatmixing and slipcueing while playing at the nightclub "The Sanctuary", located on 407 West 43rd Street. At that time, it was harder to beatmix cause the tracks weren't made with drum machines, which meant that the beat was not consistent and steady and always shifted. In the beginning he called the beatmixes for "changes".

Francis revolutionized the entire dj culture and the way DJ's work today is derived from him.

The Loft

David Mancuso

David Mancuso

At the beginning of 1970 (Saturday 14 February, "Valentine's Day", to be more accurate) at 647 Broadway, New York, USA, a party called "Love Saves The Day" was held. The man behind was David Mancuso and it happened in his home, in a loft and only for his friends. He continued with these parties and after a while they where known as "The Loft". Little did David know that it would be famous and long-lived.

The Loft was based on the idea that only invited guests where allowed access. Each invited person could bring a guest and there were many who wanted to go there. According to the law at that time, you weren't allowed to sell food or drink in such situations without permission and orange juice was the only thing that was served at The Loft. The DCA (New York City Department of Consumer Affairs) decided that David needed a cabaret license during these gatherings and shut down The Loft. David did not want it to happen again, so he wanted to make it clear that it was not a cabaret and that he did not sell food and drink to the public and claimed it was private only for his friends. In September beginning of November 1974, a long process began which David won and in 1975 it was decided that he could continue with The Loft. The economy bit was resolved by a bowl at The Loft which visitors could use to donate money in.

The idea of inviting people and donating money is a system that is probably used more widely in Usa than here in Europe. It's called house party or rent party.


The Loft had to move a few times and the first time was in 1975, to 99 Prince Street, Soho. It was time again in 1984 and he had to move to East 3rd Street between Avenue B and C in Alphabet city.

During the same time as The Loft there were a lot of social movements and communities going on in Usa. It was black and gay who were not popular and became harassed at the time. The Loft served as a haven for many of those who visited and they could relax and be themselfes without being harrased. Everyone accepted each other as they were.

Mancuso had a talent for DJ'ing. He did not want to call himself a dj and he did not see himself as a dj either. He could play everything but the distinctive part was that the tracks he played contributed to a good feeling on the dance floor and the tracks had a nice groove. If you listen to the songs you will hear for yourself and you understand that there was some inspiration from The Loft, but the biggest part was the feeling that he created.

The disc jockey is an artist. He is shedding his ego. If he’s gaining an ego he’s not going to be an artist; and he’s not going to be there for music. He’s going to be gone."

David Mancuso

Here are examples of some tracks he played:

Manu Dibango - Soul Makossa från 1973

MFSB - Love Is The Message från 1973

David Mancuso ran "The Loft" throughout his life, gathered a few times a year in secret places until he died on October 20, 2016, 72 years old. The reason why The Loft is famous is that much of what we see and have today of nightclubs has evolved from The Loft and similar places, and also several visitors from The Loft would play a major role in the creation and development of House Music. We will come to this later.

The Paradise Garage

The Paradise Garage Logo

In the tracks of The Lofts success, others were trying the same idea as The Loft. Invite only, no food or drink could be sold, same kind of clientele etc. In the spring of 1977, Michael Brody started a project in an empty parking garage located on 84 King Street. He called it "The Paradise Garage", also later became known as "Gay-rage".

People thought he was crazy because the acoustics in such a place that is mostly built of concrete is not the kindest to the ear. Lots of echo everywhere. The area inside The Paradise Garage was totally 20.000 square feet whereas the dancefloor was 5000 square feet so it required a lot of soundproofing and above all a good sound system. To their help, they had several people that helped, including Richard Long and Associates (RLA), a sound designer who later became famous, that installed the sound. The Paradise Garage was considered to have the best sound in New York, if not the whole of Usa. Richard Long has installed sound systems at many and renowned clubs around the world and was also one of the visitors at The Loft.

However, the Paradise Garage was not solely known for its sound. Michael Brody got a discjockey that was really good at his job. His name was Larry Levan and he was also one of the visitors at The Loft. Larry got very known and could deliver an incredible feeling on the dance floor. There were few who could do what he did, he knew what songs he would play to get that magical feeling.

Larry also made his own remixes, mixed styles, and sometimes only played certain sequences in some songs and mixed them together. It was from Paradise Garage the term garage house (which was not exactly the same as todays garage house) came from but what Larry played there with his remixes was not really the house music that would be known a few years later but more a foundation and inspiration for the development of House music.

Larry Levan

Larry Levan

Michael Brody had one more ace in his sleeve in the form of Mel Cheren who started the legendary West End Records. Larry made his own remixes and got them released at West End Records. It was thanks to The Paradise Garage, Larry Levan and West End Records, which made 12" singles popular with longer and special versions. Previously, the most common were 7" singles, but these 12" singles were more suited for discjockeys because of special versions with longer intro and longer break.

Since The Paradise Garage became so popular after a while, they had to release the "invite only" concept. Nevertheless, it was difficult to get in because of the popularity.

Many big stars have performed on that stage (including Jocelyn Brown, Duran Duran, Samantha Fox, Loleatta Holloway, Whitney Houston, Grace Jones, Chaka Khan, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, New Order, The Pointer Sisters, Diana Ross, Sister Sledge, Amii Stewart, Wham! Just to name a few) and Paradise Garage also had many other famous people among the visitors (including Keith Haring, Mick Jagger, Grace Jones, Andy Warhol, Cher, Jellybean Benitez, Calvin Klein, Matt Dillon, Brooke Shields and many more).

Madonna has, among other things, recorded the video for Everybody at The Paradise Garage in 1983.

The Paradise Garage closed 1987.

Part 2 coming soon