A lot of parts of dance music’s history are being contested right now – things like literal whitewashing of the past and the Belleville Three being exposed as a marketing myth come to mind straight away. But one of few things that no one has questioned so far is the idea that dance music has origins within the gay community.
The main reason for that is because that’s precisely where dance music’s roots are found. After disco died its death in the early 1980s, DJs like Frankie Knuckles started making reel-to-reel edits of disco songs, adding their own drums, and so forth. When they started running out of songs to play with, they started making their own – and the rest is history.
It was black and gay communities that got behind the music from day one in the likes of Chicago and Detroit – that only started to change in a big way when the music started being exported into Europe. And once house music hit British shores, it arrived to a crowd who fell in love with what they were hearing.
So, dance music’s roots within the gay community are hardly a secret – but is that where it all began? It turns out the answer to this question is no. French musician Robotussin unearthed this astonishing video from the 1950s, which suggests the roots go back to at least that time…
The footage is taken from a 1957 film originally called The Third Sex – a name so scandalous by the standards of the time that it was changed to Bewildered Youth when released in the USA. Even West Germany’s censors wouldn’t approve the title, so it was released there under the name of Different From You And Me.
It shows a German man from a wealthy family getting into a world with gay men and electronic music. His unhappy mother attempts to persuade the family’s cleaner to try and seduce her son. Unfortunately, the plan fails, and she subsequently ends up being arrested on suspicion of arranging prostitution.
Casting aside the film’s obvious homophobia – something that wasn’t unusual at the time – it provides an illuminating insight about the link between electronic music and the gay community going back much further than first thought…