Jonny Ensall

I'm an editor, writer and presenter. Currently editor of easyJet Traveller magazine, writer for NME and presenter for Audible Originals. I’m also the former deputy editor of Time Out London.

The history of house music

The history of house music

House music has become so ubiquitous we don’t always notice it any more. But listen – every time that regular, four-to-the-floor, thumping kick drum comes on the radio, that’s house. Say the words “Boots. Cats. Boots. Cats.” over to yourself a few times. That’s house! Beginning with the disco-obsessed DJs of Chicago’s underground club scene, and arriving at Calvin Harris earning $63m a year, this is the fascinating story of the genre that took over the world.

1
1977
A new nightclub known as The Warehouse opens in Chicago, with Frankie Knuckles as its resident DJ. Soon, fans of Knuckles’ inventive sets – incorporating disco, electro funk and homemade edits – start looking for music “heard at The Warehouse”. Or simply “house” music. 


2
1980
The TR-808 drum machine is launched by the Japanese corporation, Roland. Its relative cheapness, and mighty sub-shaking drum kick, make it a favourite among early Chicago house producers such as Knuckles, Jesse Saunders and JM Silk. 


3
1982
In Bombay, India, a session musician named Charanjit Singh records an experimental album with his own 808 machine. Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat turns out to be the very first acid house record – though no-one will realise for 20 years, until a copy of the forgotten LP is unearthed at a Delhi thrift store.


4
1987
British DJ and promoter Paul Oakenfold travels to Ibiza to celebrate his birthday and has a musical epiphany listening to house at the Amnesia nightclub. He brings the eclectic, ecstasy-fuelled Balearic mentality back to London with his own acid house night, Spectrum. 


5
1988
It’s the 'second summer of love' in the UK. Illegal raves spring up on the outskirts of London. In Manchester, the Hacienda goes from being an overlooked music venue to the world’s best acid house club, with queues outside from Wednesday to Saturday.


6
1990
Madonna releases Vogue, with a video inspired by the fierce dance moves of the LGBT ballroom communities of Harlem, New York. The single goes to number one around the world, and house music moves out of the underground into the pop mainstream. 


7
1993
Dave Jennings, of the magazine Melody Maker, writes a scathing review of the French band Darlin', calling their songs ‘daft punky thrash’. Soon after, band members Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter quit and form Daft Punk.  


8
2001
Daft Punk’s second album, Discovery, changes dance music forever. Falling halfway between Chicago house and the frosty electronica of German pioneers, Kraftwerk, it forms the template for the poppy, hook-laden, chart-smashing house sound of the noughties. 

9
2008
Scandinavian DJs Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso come together over their love of stadium-sized dance anthems and deep V T-shirts to form Swedish House Mafia. They – along with Deadmau5, David Guetta and Calvin Harris – usher in the era of mainstream, progressive house.


10
2014
DJ Frankie Knuckles dies in hospital in Chicago, aged 59. The 'godfather of house' leaves behind an unparalleled musical legacy, having taken house from Chicago’s gay African-American club scene, to being one of the most popular musical styles on the planet.

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