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Alternative dance


Alternative dance

Alternative dance or indie dance (also referred to as underground dance in the US)[1] is a musical genre that mixes various rock subgenres with electronic dance music. Although largely confined to the British Isles, it has gained American and worldwide exposure through acts such as New Order in the 1980s and The Prodigy in the 1990s.


  • Style 1
  • 20th century conception 2
  • 21st-century developments 3
    • Indietronica 3.1
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Allmusic states that alternative dance mixes the "melodic song structure of alternative and indie rock with electronic beats, synths and/or samples, and club orientation of post-disco dance music".[2] The Sacramento Bee calls it "postmodernEurosynthtechnopopNew Wave in a blender".[3]

The genre draws heavily on club culture for inspiration while incorporating other styles of music such as synthpop, electronic body music, acid house, and trip hop. The performers of alternative dance are closely identified with their music through a signature style, texture, or fusion of specific musical elements.[2] They are usually signed to small record labels.[4]

20th century conception

Most alternative dance artists are British, "owing to the greater prominence of the UK's club and rave scenes in underground musical culture". New Order are cited by Allmusic as the genre's first group because of their 1982–83 recordings, which merged post-punk with electro/synthpop in the style of German collective Kraftwerk. Alternative dance had a major impact on Britain's late-1980s Madchester scene (adapted from Manchester, New Order's home city) and 1990s trip hop and rave scenes.[2] The Haçienda club in Manchester, founded by New Order and Factory Records, became the hub of the genre in 1980s Britain.[5]

The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers are two prominent examples of the 1990s British scene,[6][7] while in the US, Chicago's Liquid Soul to San Francisco's Dubtribe expanded dance music "beyond its old identity as a singles-driven genre with no identifiable, long-term artists".[1] The American scene rarely received radio airplay and most of the innovative work continued underground or was imported.[4] The Prodigy's third studio album The Fat of the Land was the first international alternative dance hit after debuting at number one in 25 countries, including the US, in 1997.[6]

21st-century developments

As computer technology and music software became more accessible and advanced at the start of the 21st century, bands tended to forego traditional studio production practices. High quality music was often conceived using little more than a single laptop computer. Such advances led to an increase in the amount of home-produced electronic music, including alternative dance, available via the Internet.[8] According to BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac, part of the strength of the scene in the new millennium was "the sense of community"; she noted, "Websites, blogs and MySpace pages all get people talking about records and checking out each other's recommendations. It's not like the old club scene, where these established DJs dictated what would be big. Word-of-mouth is so important now."[9]

In the early 2000s, the term "electroclash" was used to denote artists like Fischerspooner and Ladytron who mixed new wave with electronic music. The Electroclash festival was held in New York in 2001 and 2002, with subsequent tours across the US and Europe in 2003 and 2004.[10] In the mid-2000s, the British music magazine NME popularised the term "new rave" ("new wave" and "rave") to describe the music of bands like Klaxons, whose rock aesthetic includes paraphernalia from the 1990s rave scene like glowsticks and neon lights.[11]


Indie electronic is a syncretic music genre rooted in indie rock with affinity for electronic music, using samplers, synthesizers, drum machines, and computer programs, emerging during the 2000s.[12] A more broad label than an actual music genre[12] that describes rock-rooted artists who followed the approach of early electronic music (composers of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop), Krautrock and later electronic music like synthpop, alternative dance and other. Progenitors of the genre were English bands Disco Inferno and Stereolab, active in the early 1990s. Most musicians in the genre can be found on major labels, however they can be found on independent labels like Warp, Morr Music, Sub Pop or Ghostly International as well. Indietronica album highlights include LP1 by FKA twigs, Something Shines by Lætitia Sadier, Baazaar by Wampire, and Sparks by Imogen Heap.


  1. ^ a b  
  2. ^ a b c "Alternative Dance: Genre".  
  3. ^ "Hot To Trot: A Guide Attitude Included To Sacramento's Alternative Dance Scene".  
  4. ^ a b Talbot, Mary (14 December 1995). "Mixed Tapes A Sticky Matter Depending On The Spin, Deejays Plying Their Trademarks Are Either Artists Or Pirates".  
  5. ^ Shepherd, John (2003). Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World: Media, Industry and Society.  
  6. ^ a b Harrington, Richard (24 August 1997). "A Spark in Electronica? The Alternative Dance Genre Isn't Saving the Music Industry—Yet".  
  7. ^ "The Chemical Brothers: Full Biography".  
  8. ^ Colonna, C. M.; Kearns, P. M.; Anderson, J. E. "Electronically produced music and its economic effects on the performing musician and music industry". Journal of Cultural Economics (CABI). 
  9. ^ Muggs, Joe (7 September 2006). "Mix and mash with Mac the magpie".  
  10. ^  
  11. ^ Green, Thomas H (8 February 2007). "The Klaxons, the day-Glo kings of the new rave".  
  12. ^ a b "Indie electronic" at

External links

  • List of alternative dance artists at Allmusic
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