Dance Dictionary

Welcome to Dance Dictionary. This page was created because there is no clear definition of various styles of dance music. With today's fusion of so many varied music styles, many titles that could be classified as trance-techno, techno-house, disco, deep-dub and acid house (the original and purest form of progressive house), have been lumped together in the nondescript progressive house.

Some ambiguity also existed regarding energy alternative, and hi-house could be deemed redundant in an era when, with very few exceptions, every high energy track being released featured a house mix. Even Italy, the last bastion of Hi-NRG purist fare is predominantly house influenced these days. There are however signs that Happy Italo-Disco may comeback. Check releases posted in ITALO-DISCO Page.

So what is the conclusion? Seems that any music classification is a bogus attempt to "pigeon hole" what would otherwise be loosely called "good dance music". Classifying, they purpose, could negatively influence a DJ or collector to pass by a song or style and potentially undermine the emerging melange of old and new, multi-style fusion trends. However, most DJs and collectors do have very particular tastes, and considering the overwhelming volume of new everyday releases. Listing of artist and title simply does not provide enough information.

Herein is an attempt to dispel the clouds of confusion about the styles. It is not ultimate, and your comments or own description of the styles (mentioned here or not ) on the list are VERY welcome. Let make this dictionary useful tool in the DANCEWEB.



    Disco never died, it split. At the beginining part became Hi-NRG and part became house. Now Hi-NRG took additional techno sound. This is the current evolution of disco that remained truest to it's mid'70'-dlsco roots and is the perennial musical staple of gay dance clubs. Attributes: strong melodies, full vocal arrangements, happy, uplifting energy, lots of remakes. 118 to 140 BPM. Examples: Abigail, Kylie Mlnogue, Blue System, Fancy, Bad Boys Blue, Gypsy & Queen, Pet Shop Boys, Abbacadabra, Cabballero, Masterboy, Aladino, and anything on the PWL, Klone or Megatone labels. Check current releases in ITALO-DISCO Page for updates.


    This is by far; the most popular dance format. So much so, that there exists over a dozen related branches including New York dub, Chicago, New Jersey, Miami, garage, tribal, acid... in fact, almost every other format touches on house at some point because the steady 4/4 time signature beat is virtually universal in dance music. Attributes: the beat, keyboards, home synthesizers, male vocals, female vocals at all... add any or all. What you add defnines what kind of house it is but what makes it house is it the beat 110 to 128 BPM. Examples: lnner City, MK, Ralphie Rosario, Robin S., and anything on the Murk; Eightball or Strictly Rhythm labels.


    It has to be clarified that Robert Miles is not the original creator of the DREAM MUSIC. Apparently this term was used for the first time by the Italian D.J. Gianni Parrini, at the end of 1993. D.J. Parrini is still the real leader of this style, but it seems he has not the luck as Robert Miles with his 'Children'. Among the first creators of this style were artists like: Adriano Dodici, Gigi d'Agostino (well known nowadays), Leonardo Rossi, and of course Gianni Parrini himself. DREAM HOUSE originally evolved from TRANCE. Usually down-beat, with soft melodic sounds (a piano is characteristic and practically a mandatory section), and a sharp pounding drum beat. It also can have a heavenly female or choir voice (e.g. Zhi-vago, DJ Dado etc). The cover-sleeves normally shows virtual landscapes, or relating to the cosmos. Frequently the dream can be fused with elements of techno or progressive music, resulting more fast with a vibrating bassline straight and running (e.g. B.B.E). This "mutated" style also got the name (e.g. PROGRESSIVE MEDITERRANEAN). Other variant of dream is called COSMIC-DREAM: it is more deep and reflexive (e.g. . Brothers Of The Coast). The main Italian labels devoted to dream music in Italy are: In Lite, Outta (both from Ala Bianca Group), Desastre (from DB One), several labels from Zac Music like Vertikal, Elite, Universal have released some stuff. Also from DiscoMagic we have the side more commercial of this style with a label just named Dream Records. Check these releases: Adriano Dodici 'Opera Dodici' (WestWard / 1993), Roland Brant 'Mastermind' (Desastre / 1994), D.J. Panda 'It's A Dream' (Outta / 1994), Robiz 'Universum' (In Lite / 1995), Gianni Parrini 'White Blow' (Drohm / 1995), Sonic Dream 'Il Sogno' (Desastre / 1995), Oscar Piatelli & Frank Vanoli 'Livin' Age' (Desastre / 1995), MC Hair 'Moonra E.P.' (Red Gate / 1995), Positive with Gianni Parrini 'Traum Remix' (UMM PR / 1995), Brothers Of The Coast 'Ouverture' (Universal / 1995) cosmic dream.

    review of the style written for by Jose Antonio (Spain)


    This sound originated from Chicago in the mid-'80's. It's phased and gated quarter note percussion patterns generated by the Roland TR 808 and 909 drum machines marked a milestone advancement in synthdriven dance music. The acid house sound was an overnight revolution and remains the cornerstone of the American underground scene. Attrlbutes: the Roland 303 drum machine signature sound. 118 to 130 BPM. Examples: Bobby Konders, Caucasian Boy and anything on DJ International, Trax or Hot Mix labels.


    Garage started in New York's club “Paradise Garage” located in Greenwich Village and thus term: "Garage" music was used to describe the style of music that was played there. It is the home of the infamous DJ Larry Levan. This style of music is faithful to the old disco style and keeps it alive. Its characteristics are a lot of bass, vocals, keyboards and sometimes, even violins. These days Garage is popular in the UK and is slowly spreading across the European continent. Many other types have already evolved such as speed garage, acid garage and I’ve even heard of demon garage (now what the heck is that?).

    review of the style written for by a visitor


    In the city of Chicago, many DJ’s started to experiment with old disco records and mixed them with samples from bands like Kraftwerk and New Order. Through this, a new style evolved; 120 BPM (beats per minute), quadruple time, soul voices, and piano samples. Chicago is known for its characteristic original piano and voice samples. Some people like to refer this style as “old skool” house. Chicago was named after the “Warehouse Club”, a disco in Chicago. In 1987, this new style traveled to Europe. Ever since, European DJ’s have been spinning and experimenting with Chicago.

    review of the style written for by a visitor


    This is misleading name. There is nothing "acid like" about acid jazz. It is actually a fusion of old and new classic jazz riffs and scat vocals with funky hip hop beats and modern technology. During a true acid jazz set, a DJ may spin the latest Mo' Wax releases, funky, hip-hop, rap interspersed with Ella Fitzgerald or Harvey Mason. The key word here is fusion. Attributes: hip-hop or house rhythms live instrumentation, silky smooth arrangements, and an easy, flowing soulful energy. 80 to 126 BPM. Examples: US3, Brand New Heavies, Jamiroquai, Digable Planets, and anything on the Blue Note, Talkin' Loud, Acid Jazz or Mo' Wax Labels.


    Disco house borrows heavily from classic late '70's e discos and funk, and is indicative of the current shift toward music with strong hooks and melodies, and a comfortable familiarity. In England, this style of music is called Tesko - a hybrid of disco and techno, except for X-Press-2 who call their sound a blend of disco and rave - Rave Music. Attributes: Tesko uses a disco arrangements style, house rhythms, and a techno sampling technique. 120 to 130 BPM. Examples: X-Press-2, Ming's Incredible Disco Machine, Cotton Club, and most releases of the Stress or Whizz labels.


    Tribal music is defined by it's perscussion. The arrangements are often simple and repetitive and the energy is primal and driving. Attributes: Minimalist, striped down mixes and subtle melodies. Chanted vocal samples with heavy African, Brazilian, Indian or other ethnic flavor. 120 to 128 BPM. Exmples: The Goodmen, and DJ EFX mix or many releases on the Murk, Strictly Rhythms or Tribal America labels.


    This is music that is too progressive to fit the general house definition yet not as dark or hard as trance or techno-house. Attributes: Trance styled keyboard and synth-lines, house vocal loops and samples with driving, electronic mid-tempo house rhythms. 120 to 130 BPM. Examples: Underworld, Fluke, Rhythm Invention and most releases on the Limbo or Wrap labels.


    Over the years and around the world the term "TECHNO" has come to mean many things to many people. The term was first cloned by Kraftwerk from Germany to describe their unique use of technology in electronic and computerized instruments while making contemporary Pop Music. As techno evolved new terminology was required to make sense of all its variants. In time it stood for what now refers to "INDUSTRIAL" or "ELECTRONIC BODY MUSIC" and later still, for what is now considered the "HOUSE, the sound originated in Detroit and Chicago in the mid-'80s. Pioneered by such luminaries as Juan Atkins, Kenny Larkin and Mike "Hitman" Wilson techno has evolved from cutting edge underground ('84 to '89); to undisputed ruler of the American rave scene ('89 to '92), to mainstream "Top 40" acceptance. The commercial success of techno has also led to it's fall from grace in the underground scene, being replaced by trance, progressive house, and the strong resurgence of true house. Today the term "TECHNO" has come to mean fusion of all these styles and now"TECHNO" is the short from "TECHNO-HOUSE".

    Throught all the phases and trends and ups and downs that TECHNO has endured, one man maintained his position as an instigator and innovator and is now consider the godfather of the TECHNO movement - Talla 2XLC. born and Raised in Frankfurt, Germany, he founded the first club exclusively devoted to TECHNO, conceived Frontpage Magazine, and launched, with Zoth Ommog SUCK ME PLASMA, the first TECHNO-HOUSE label. He has lived by the TECHNO motto" "Forcing The Future", like no other DJ before or since. Never ego-driven or spotlight-hungry he became a quet but enormously influential mastermind behind every aspect of TECHNO's eveolution. Although the seeds of TECHNO were planted in Frankfurt's Rhein-Main district, it soon spread internationally through 80's and 90's. Now, Tall 2XLC is still in top form and widely regarded as the creative genius behind TECHNO-HOUSE current popularity.

    Attributes: Hard synth-keyboard riffs, pounding Belgian style bass, often combining male rap and female vocals and always delivering the most intense, frenetic eneregy possible. 130 to 150 BPM. Examples: L.A. Style, Moby, Fierce Ruling Diva, Tyrell Corp., Robotico Rejecto, Klangwerk, Quadrophonia, many of the releases on Radikal on Bounce labels, Suck Me Plasma releases and everything from Rotterdam.

    to describe this style large portion of the text has been taken from the material written by J. Laarmann from Frontpage Magazine that appeared in the insert of Double CD compilation from ZYX - "The History Of Techno"


    Gabber is basically the Dutch form of house music. Imagine house music at 33RPM playing at 45RPM. In other words, it is very fast (around 220BPM or so). To describe this style, I would use the word “dark”. The bass is really “kicky” and distortion effects are used to produce beats that sound like hammers pounding on a wall (with an echo). The Gabber generation in the Netherlands have a typical “look” : bald head, Australian track suit, Nick air max shoes. Some people like to call “gabber” “gabba” which is essentially the same thing. Gabber branches off to many other styles of music such as happy hardcore and terrorcore. Check out the Thunderdome collection, most releases by ID&T, Rotterdam Records and Planet Core Productions (PCP).

    review of the style written for by a visitor


    Trance evolved from German Techno, using the rolling bass and sizzling keyboards of techno to give the music a hypnotic flowing effect, yet retaining all the driving, pulsating energy of it's true techno roots. Attributes: synth/sample-driving, pounding basslines, complex cyber-sounding keyboards, usually instrumental. 128 to 150 BPM. Examples: Aphex Twin, HardTrance Acsperience, Cosmo, Raver's Nature, Marusha and anything on the Harthouse, D-Jax, Rough Trade, or EX labels.


    Goa was born in Germany where trance also comes from. Trance grew in Germany and that’s where everyone who knows it has got it. Goa is known for the peace, love, and sun. Trance was played on a lot of beach parties and because of its warm climate of “goa” vinyl would melt. Thus, the music was put on DAT and wasn’t mixed, and that’s why the tracks have an intro, climax, and an outro. Goa trance is played all over the world and the public seem to enjoy it more because it is more “relaxing” and “easy-listening” style than other types of trance. A lot of various "branches" have been born with experimental mixing; voodoo trance, astral trance. Sample CD's: Man with no name, The Best of Goa Trance Vol. I, Vol. II, Vol. III, Astral Projection

    review of the style written for by a visitor


    Jungle is quite chaotic and has a breakbeat of 160BPM with the bassdrum on half speed. If your not used to it, it’s hard to predict when there is a beat and/or bass. Jungle’s origins are from England and it is named after the big concrete, metallic “jungle” city. Different mixes with reggae and hardcore are divided into three categories: Drum ‘n’ Bass, Hardstep, and Intelligent jungle. Intelligent jungle can also be called “artcore”, which has a slight trance “flavor” into it. Artists such as LTJ Buken, PFM, Jamie Myerson, and Goldie are known for this style of music.

    review of the style written for by a visitor


    Happy Hardcore, also known as 4-Beat is a style of techno music that is very fast, very bouncy and a riot to dance to (IMHO). It's extremely high-energy and when one dances to it, you feel almost like a puppet on strings moving uncontrolably to the music with your hands in the air and a smile on your face! It's origins date back to the early '90s in the UK to what is now know as old school hardcore (circa 1992). This hardcore began to split into different forms, such as Jungle which has enjoyed a growing following everywhere including North America. Typical characterists of happy hardcore music are: a driving 4/4 kick (hence the name 4-beat), usually (but not always) lots of piano and female vocals (making the music 'happy'). Happy hardcore also features lots of break beats, although they are being dropped in favour of more techno sounds and stompy dutch inspired kicks. Happy hardcore runs at 160-180 bpm and 99% of the music originates from the United Kingdom where it's popularity is gaining even over jungle.

    the above description is courtesy of Anabolic Frolic's Happy Hardcore Headquarters

    Basically, happy hardcore is the “mainstream” or the “public” version of gabber. But don’t be mistaken, they are two different types of music. A lot of samples from old hit records, movies, piano and rap voices are the basic roots for happy hardcore. The first famous track was made by Charly Lownoise and Mental Theo called “wonderful days”, a classic. Happy hardcore can range from 160BPM to 180BPM. It’s pretty fast but the melody is quite enjoyable (you can’t resist stamping your feet). These days, happy hardcore is becoming more and more “happy”. It has a very friendly “attitude” and titles such as “Smurf’s house” will tell it all.

    review of the style written for by a visitor


    Sexcore is a sub-category hardcore/terrorcore but with sex samples from old porno records. It was popular in the West Coast of the U.S. Similar characteristics as gabber, sexcore is categorized as underground music because it is not popular to the public and is harder to find. Ron D Core (owner of Dr Freeclouds Mixing Lab) is pretty infamous for having some crazy records. He also spins terrorcore and the occasional retro hard acid set)

    review of the style written for by a visitor


    Breakbeat evolved from late '80's rave by combining hip-hop rhythms and mixing tricks (back, spins, ets.,) with techno-rave keyboards and sampling techniques. This style was revamped in 1998 by groups like Music Instructor, Solid Force, Sybtronic and other. Attributes: Funky rhythm tracks, lots of samples and choppy mixes, sped-up "chipmunk" vocal loops, frenetic explosive energy. 135 to 170 BPM. Examples of groups originally recording in this style are as following: Smart E's, Sonz Of A Loop Da Loop Era, Prodigy, Q-Bass, Pascal Device, RMB, DJ Hooligan, Raver's Nature, Music Instructor and everything on the Suburban Bass, Production House or Moving Shadow.


    These are titles that simply don't fit a simplified house, high-energy, dance-rock or techno devinition. Attributes: Very accessible sounding, usually using lots of synth-keyboards, and strong hooks and vocal arrangements to successfully combine elements of house, rock and techno. 100 to 140 BPM. Examples: Enigma, Depeche Mode, Camouflage, and anything produced by Michael Cretu.


    Ambient is music that you can't dance to, or can you? It may or may not have a beat, and is primarily designed for a chilled out trip to synth-driven fantasy. Often combining natural and "found sounds" which can be looped through processors to create original unique sounds. Attributes: Very electronic and spacey, often featuring long sound effect, intros and breaks, and occasionally featuring mixes 20 minutes long (or more!). 0 to 140 BPM. Examples: The Orb, Amorphous Androgynous, Future Sound Of London and many releases on the Rising High, Hardkiss, Fax, Apollo or Astralwerks.


    This modified decriptions were originally written by Mardi Coleman and published by AUTOBAHN RECORDS in one of their fliers I was getting.

    Dance Dictionary Page was created on December 30, 1995.
    Revised last on Wednesday, July 06, 2005

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