Like so much dance music in the world today, Chicago’s footwork style owes a big debt to house. Sure, it may not sound anything like the deep-and-soulful vibes of classic Marshall Jefferson or Frankie Knuckles tracks, but the hyper-paced sound (and its attendant culture) shares a similar lineage with so many house subgenres, having worked its way through multiple scenes within a scene, providing the soundtrack for dance crews to battle it out on the floor, and becoming a worldwide phenomenon in the process. Here’s what you need to know about what it is and how to make it.
If you're even a passing fan of electronic music, it's likely that you know that one of its icons, DJ and producer Frankie Knuckles, died earlier this week at the age of 59 from complications related to type 2 diabetes. The "godfather of house music" was a true legend, the kind of artist to whom one could point as a real cultural lynchpin; without his influence, dance music in 2014 would likely be an entirely different beast. Having given birth to house music in Chicago in the late '70s and early '80s via his clubs the Warehouse and later the Power Plant, Knuckles (born Francis Nicholls in New York City) was a dedicated craftsman and inventor, honing his skills as a DJ by playing marathon sets to open-minded audiences and helping to make the remix its own art form by constructing extended versions of classic soul and disco tunes with a pair of reel-to-reel tape decks and a 909.