By Sam Rosenberg
On the Internet, history gets written backwards. Network consciousness starts on the periphery, as independent dots connect around the edges filling in the unknown piece-by-piece, reaching back to create a history and molding a collective impression. The cliché is that information travels on the web at near instantaneous speeds, but collectively piecing together the history of a scene from afar takes much longer than you would think, and leaves an uneven and distorted perception in the collective consciousness. The rise of interest in, and popularity of Chicago Footwork and Juke music outside of Chicago, particularly in England over the last two years, is a case study for the messy, complicated tangle of network historiography.
By comparison, the actual history of Juke and Footwork in Chicago is fairly simple. It’s easy to connect it to the long lineage of African-American music traditions and to see points of connection with popular dance music. Disco leads to House leads to Ghetto House leads to Juke and to Footwork. This chain is a timeline but also a pyramid with each step up growing smaller in terms of resources available to it and the size of the communities involved. By the end of the 90’s, Dance Mania, the premier label for Ghetto House, shut its doors and a corporate takeover sanitized Chicago radio, implementing national programming formats with little room for local music. Pivotal figures like DJ Deeon dropped out of the scene and younger producers and DJs waiting in the wings to join them now lacked the infrastructure and platforms to release their music and gain exposure outside of their communities. [Read more…]