A Brief History of Eurodance

Eurodance is a misunderstood genre, it’s not all Whigfield, Corona and cheesy vocals. Originating in the late 1980s, it commonly fuses elements of Hi-NRG, house music and euro disco, often with melodic vocals and euphoric synths. It’s a genre you can’t really pigeonhole, often a singular production element being what lends a track the title Eurodance.

These influences have played a part in the way Berlin-based duo Longhair approach their productions and their DJ sets. For the Salon Zur Wilden Renate residents there are always “unusual things to discover” in the arrangements of a Eurodance record. The lack of being able to cipher these songs into a specific genre is an interesting quality, something the duo break down as they chart a brief history of the genre between the years of 1989 and 1992…

Where does your love for Eurodance stem from?

I think most DJs when they get into dance music kind of start at the US styles, like House and Techno. Be it Detroit, Chicago, NY, Jersey or West Coast sound. Then of course there is also all the UK and German stuff, but sooner or later you get through all of that. The only crate that’s left in the record store to look into is the Euro crate and then you realise there is more to it then Snap! and 2 Unlimited hahaha.

What marks out a Eurodance record, compared to the rest of the genre?

Well, in my definition these early Eurodance records are kind of “mutations” and not easy to put in one box. They can sit right in between various styles of dance music which are super specified these days. This lack of instant identification as a techno, trance, whatever the track is, that is what makes the music from this period so interesting to us. There are a lot of unusual things to discover in the arrangements and sound design of that time.

What Eurodance record has left the biggest impression on you as a DJ, and why?

I think Enigma were probably the first act that made a big impression on me when I was still a kid. They had this certain mystique to their music and were faceless, which made it interesting. But today a record that has a similar feel to it and is probably more the style I play out, might be something like “Sad But True” by Nobody. It’s basically a UK acid house record, but when you listen to it you’ll know what I mean. It has a very trancey, ethnic kind of vibe. That’s what I’m looking for in a Euro record, a mixture of all this.

What Eurodance record has made the biggest impact on your sound as a producer, and why?

That’s definitely Sueno Latino from 1989. A bit of an obvious choice, but it’s really one of the tracks we always referenced when discussing our own productions in the studio. It has this really nice, warm vibe to it and instantly makes you want to go to an open air party or wade through the fog of a dark club, both with a big smile on your face. A truly timeless classic.

Syntech – Discontented (1989)

This is a “proto” record in many ways. Basically a dutch synth-pop project and most of the songs on that album are horrible – like it goes with so many Euro albums. But this song is so much. It has strong Italo influences, but drives the whole thing into something that was called trance a year or two later. It is a record that was played by legendary DJ Laurent in the early stages of Goa in India, when it still was not a style of it’s own, just this beautiful transcendental electronic music.

Westbam – Hold Me Back (1989)

Westfalia Bambata 🙂 This one is a really cool and easy early work of Westbam, it’s kind of beautifully naive. You can hear influences of hip hop, electro but also dream house. I believe nowadays not many producers would pull off such a simple yet effective track and actually release it. Still a banger today if played out loud!

BMQ – Dance Robot (1991)

A classic cut from Valencia, the Spanish mecca of electronic music since the 80s. The so called Valencia sound has to be consumed carefully though, as you have to dig through so much trash before you discover a really good one that’s worth playing out. I’d say this record is something like the Spanish version of New Beat, but it has this very cheesy synth pad break which makes it really Euro for me.

Quazar – Through The Looking Glass (1991)

This whole EP is one of my favourite dance records of all time. You can get it for a fiver at the second hand market and it’s pure gold. When I played it once at Renate a fellow DJ asked me if it was Legowelt. Well it is Dutch but a lot earlier than Legowelt. Again it floats between house and trance and has a very ethnic and mystical vibe to it, which makes it a great Euro catch. Every track on this EP does this.

Miki (The Dolphin) – La Force De La Nature (1992)

Miki made a lot of great music in this period of time, most of it being pretty weird to modern standards. Maybe this track the most as it mixes so many elements in one track. It’s constantly morphing in and out of styles, but still manages to tie them all together and create this special happy mood that many tracks of that time create.

Longhair’s new EP Mangostine is out now on Renate’s in-house label Renate Schallplatten.

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