2 min

House primer

VOLATILE REAL ESTATE MARKET. Sylvain Girard hopes DJs will re-educate club-goers to the full potential of House music. Credit: Image by Paula Wilson

At the risk of widening the divisions within House music, let me identify a few of the major points of reference for those navigating the world of House for the first time.

Classic House

125bpm (beats per minute), four-on-the-floor bassbeats, hard and heavy, with a funky, soulful sound from disco. Named after The Warehouse in Chicago where Frankie Knuckles first mixed this music. Check out the 1986 classic recording of “Jack Your Body” by Farley Jackmaster Funk.


Samples the roots of urban, Black music. Philly and Salsoul classics, funk and even reggae, layered on top of European percussion drum tracks. Named after The Paradise Garage in NYC where Larry Levan mixed this lush form of House. Anything by Masters At Work from New York City.

Hardcore/Happy Hardcore

135bpm, minimum. House sped way up. High speed break beats mixed with raw Techno by DJs in the UK at the birth of the rave scene. The Happy variety is identifiable by chipmunk-esque vocal samples. It was playing in the big room at most raves a year ago. Check out “Are You Ready?” and “Moving Through Your System.”


Pure rhythm mixed with industrial-strength sounds originating in Detroit’s urban core in the mid-’80s. Take a listen to the group Orbital.


The obsessive, after-hours drive and speed of Hardcore but built on basic House four-four beat as opposed to dropbeats. Techno that approaches Trance but not so harsh. Try producer/artists Tilt and German artists Nolan And King.


Moody, atmospheric sounds of new age, or spooky movie soundtracks on their own or set to House beat. Aphex Twin’s mellow stuff, Brian Eno and Sueno Latino.


Long, Techno, fast, fast, trance-inducing drumtracks. What Ambient is for your feet. Robert Miles’ spooky mega-hit “Children.”


Along with Tech House, the big new thing. Same speed and late-night sound but replaces the mechanical drums with damn good replicas of hand hitting conga skin. Latin influences. A synthesized organic, hippy sound. Thunderpuss 2000 remix of Donna Summer’s “Love Is A Stranger.”


140bpm and higher, created by UK DJs who played Hip Hop sped up to 45rpm, with reggae basslines and ragga vocals. Takes name from the “concrete jungle” of UK housing projects. Check LTD Bookem.

Drum ‘n’ Bass

140-160bpm stripped down Jungle, breakbeats with simple repetitive upfront basslines. Perfect for late nights of raving. Check out Tricky.


A gay circuit party tweak on House, with organs, pop vocals and breaks in the song followed by energy building snare drum rolls – much like a cheerleader’s pep rally version of House. Anything remixed by Victor Calderone, like Madonna’s “American Pie;” or, Madonna’s “Nothing Really Matters” by Luis Sanchez..


What was playing in gay clubs before House hit. Screaming diva lines over not very bass involved drumtracks. No greater example then “So Many Men, So Little Time.”

Pop House

Use of House production styles to make traditional pop artists more acceptable on the dance floor. Cher’s “Strong Enough Future Anthem Remix” by Club 69.

Acid House

Hard, uncompromising, rich with synthesizer feedback, ’60s rock guitar solos transposed into dance music, producing a hypnotic effect. Try Joey Beltram’s “Energy Flash” or “French Kiss” by Lil’ Louis And The World.