…And House Music Was Born: Constructing a Secular Christianity of Otherness

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The stories of both disco and house music are often marginalized in the broader narrative of popular music, but house music’s stylistic features are reflective of wider sociocultural developments. Taking its cue from disco, house is often seen as a purely evolutionary musical development, when in fact the seeds of house music were sown with the Civil Rights Movement, Stonewall, and gay liberation. This article asserts that disco’s use of gospel elements created a quasi-religious proto-PLUR (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect) ideology on the dance floors of the 1970s, and that this was an expression of those made Other by aspects of either race or sexuality. This expression of Otherness became the founding principle underpinning house music’s form. This article critically reappraises the narratives of both disco and house and interrogates inconsistencies in popular historical accounts using new qualitative interviews with authoritative individuals (DJs, producers, vocalists, authors). Furthermore, the article offers a thematic analysis of house music’s stylistic tropes, drawing direct parallels to Christianity and disco’s gospel influences to create a secularized religious ideology comparable to a PLUR ideology. Finally, the article explores the church’s response to racially motivated economic sanctions as a potential trigger to the generation of house music.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-249
JournalPopular Music and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2018

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