What are Sub-Genres of Dance Music, and How Did They Originate?

What are sub-genres of dance music, and how did they originate?

Dance music is a broad genre that encompasses a diverse range of styles, each with its own unique characteristics and sub-genres. From the upbeat rhythms and club-centric sounds of house music to the intense, bass-heavy beats of drum and bass, dance music has a rich and varied history that spans several decades.

In this section, we will explore the sub-genres of dance music and discuss their origins. We will delve into the historical context that gave rise to these sub-genres and examine the key artists and movements that played a role in their development. By the end of this section, you’ll have a deeper understanding of the history and evolution of dance music genres.

The origin of dance music sub-genres can be traced back to the late 1970s and early 1980s when disco music was at its peak. As the popularity of disco began to wane, DJs and producers began experimenting with new sounds, drawing from a variety of influences, including funk, soul, and electronic music.

These experiments gave rise to new sub-genres, such as house, techno, and trance, each with its own unique sound and style. Over time, these sub-genres continued to evolve, incorporating new technologies, production techniques, and cultural influences.

Today, dance music remains a dynamic and constantly evolving genre, with new sub-genres and styles emerging all the time. From the underground club scenes of Berlin to the mainstream EDM festivals of Las Vegas, dance music continues to captivate audiences around the world.

Evolution of Dance Music Genres

The dance music genre has undergone a significant evolution over the years. From the early days of disco in the 1970s to the rise of electronic dance music (EDM) in the 2010s, dance music has continued to redefine itself and push the boundaries of what is possible. The evolution of sub-genres in dance music can be attributed to various factors, including technological advancements, cultural influences, and experimentation by artists and producers.

One of the earliest forms of dance music was disco. It emerged in the 1970s and featured a prominent bassline, orchestral backing, and a strong beat. Disco music was popularized by artists such as Donna Summer and the Bee Gees and became a cultural phenomenon in the United States.

By the 1980s, disco had given way to new sub-genres of dance music, including house and techno. House music originated in Chicago and was characterized by its use of drum machines, synthesizers, and samples from disco tracks. Techno, on the other hand, emerged in Detroit and featured a more minimalist sound, with an emphasis on synthesizers and repetitive rhythms.

In the 1990s, dance music continued to evolve, with the emergence of sub-genres such as trance, drum and bass, and jungle. Trance music was characterized by its repetitive melodies and uplifting sound, while drum and bass and jungle were known for their fast-paced breakbeats and heavy basslines.

As the new millennium dawned, dance music continued to innovate and experiment. Dubstep emerged in the early 2000s, featuring a heavy emphasis on bass and sub-bass frequencies. It quickly gained popularity in the UK and eventually spread worldwide. In the 2010s, EDM became a dominant force in dance music, with sub-genres such as electro house, progressive house, and trap becoming increasingly popular.

The evolution of dance music sub-genres has been driven by a constant desire to push boundaries and experiment with new sounds and techniques. As technology continues to advance and cultural influences continue to shape the genre, it will be fascinating to see what new sub-genres will emerge in the years to come.

evolution of dance music genres

Origins of Dance Music Sub-genres

Explore the origins of some of the most popular dance music sub-genres and discover the historical and cultural contexts that gave rise to these exciting musical styles. From house to techno, trance to drum and bass, these sub-genres have played a significant role in shaping the evolution of dance music as we know it today.

House Music:

Originated in Chicago in the early 1980s, house music emerged out of the city’s vibrant nightclub scene and rapidly spread across the US and Europe. Named after the Warehouse nightclub, where DJ Frankie Knuckles played an eclectic mix of disco, soul, and funk, house music drew on various influences, including disco, funk, and electro. The 4/4 beat, synthesized basslines, and soulful vocals are hallmarks of house music, which quickly became a phenomenon in underground dance clubs. The sub-genre’s popularity eventually led to commercial success, and house music remains a staple of dance music culture today.


Developed in Detroit in the mid-1980s, techno is characterized by its use of electronic instruments and a minimalist approach to production. Inspired by the city’s industrial landscape and the political and social climate of the time, techno drew on a diverse range of musical influences, such as funk, soul, and electro. The sub-genre’s fast-paced beats, futuristic soundscapes, and relentless energy proved highly influential, and techno quickly found a dedicated audience in Europe’s vibrant club scene.


Originated in Germany in the early 1990s, trance is a sub-genre of electronic dance music characterized by its dreamy, ethereal soundscapes and uplifting melodies. Drawing on influences such as house, techno, and ambient music, trance features intricate layers of synthesizers, arpeggios, and atmospheric effects. Trance’s popularity grew rapidly in the late 1990s, and the sub-genre remains a significant force on the dance music scene today.

Drum and Bass:

Developed in the UK in the early 1990s, drum and bass is a sub-genre of electronic dance music known for its fast-paced, complex rhythms and heavy basslines. Combining elements of jungle music, hip-hop, and techno, drum and bass features intricate breakbeats, chopped-up samples, and deep, rolling basslines. The sub-genre’s dynamic energy and infectious rhythms have made it a favorite of dance music fans worldwide.


Originated in South London in the late 1990s, dubstep is a sub-genre of electronic dance music known for its heavy, distorted basslines and sparse, minimalist soundscapes. Drawing on influences such as UK garage, dub, and jungle music, dubstep features aggressive rhythms, deep sub-bass frequencies, and a stark, stripped-down production style. The sub-genre’s popularity grew rapidly in the 2000s and remains a significant force on the contemporary electronic dance music scene.

origins of dance music sub-genres

Exploring Dance Music Sub-genres

As we’ve discussed, dance music is a diverse genre with many sub-genres that offer unique musical experiences. In this section, we will take a closer look at some of the most popular dance music sub-genres and explore their distinct characteristics and sub-cultural communities.

House Music

House music originated in the dance clubs of Chicago in the early 1980s and quickly spread throughout the world. It is characterized by its 4/4 beat and the use of electronic instruments and samples. House music is known for its uplifting and energetic vibe, with vocal samples often used to create catchy hooks. Notable house music artists include Frankie Knuckles, Marshall Jefferson, and David Morales.


Techno emerged in Detroit in the mid-1980s and is characterized by its fast-paced 4/4 beat, repetitive rhythms, and use of futuristic sounds. Unlike house music, techno often lacks vocals and focuses instead on creating a hypnotic and immersive experience for the listener. Notable techno artists include Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, and Derrick May.


Trance originated in Europe in the early 1990s and is characterized by its melodic and uplifting sound. It features a 4/4 beat and often includes female vocals and anthemic hooks. Trance is known for its emotional and euphoric feel, with many tracks featuring long, dramatic build-ups and breakdowns. Notable trance artists include Armin van Buuren, Above & Beyond, and Tiƫsto.

Drum and Bass

Drum and bass, also known as D&B, originated in the UK in the mid-1990s. It is characterized by its fast breakbeats, deep basslines, and use of samples from a variety of genres, including jazz and funk. Drum and bass is known for its high energy and intense vibe, with many tracks featuring aggressive bass drops and complex rhythms. Notable drum and bass artists include Goldie, Roni Size, and Andy C.


Dubstep originated in London in the early 2000s and is characterized by its slow, heavy basslines and use of samples and synths. Dubstep is known for its dark and ominous sound, with many tracks featuring a wobbling bassline that creates a sense of tension and release. Notable dubstep artists include Skrillex, Rusko, and Benga.

These are just a few of the many dance music sub-genres that exist today. Each sub-genre offers its own unique musical experience and has its own dedicated fanbase and community. Whether you’re into the energetic sound of house music, the hypnotic rhythms of techno, or the emotional feel of trance, there is a dance music sub-genre out there for everyone to enjoy.


What are the sub-genres of dance music and how did they originate?

Dance music has a wide array of sub-genres, each with its own unique characteristics and origins. Sub-genres such as house, techno, trance, drum and bass, and dubstep emerged from different cultural and artistic movements, blending various influences to create distinct styles of dance music.

How has dance music genres evolved over time?

Dance music genres have evolved significantly over time, responding to changes in technology, cultural trends, and artistic experimentation. New sub-genres have emerged, while existing ones have evolved and hybridized, resulting in a diverse and ever-changing dance music landscape.

Where did specific dance music sub-genres originate?

Dance music sub-genres such as house, techno, trance, drum and bass, and dubstep originated in different regions and cultural contexts. House music, for example, emerged in Chicago in the 1980s, while techno developed in Detroit around the same time. Trance originated in Europe, and drum and bass was born out of the UK jungle scene. Dubstep, on the other hand, has roots in the UK’s underground music scene.

What are some notable dance music sub-genres?

There are numerous dance music sub-genres, each with its own dedicated fan base and unique sound. Some notable sub-genres include house, techno, trance, drum and bass, and dubstep. Each sub-genre has its own distinct characteristics, musical elements, and sub-cultural communities associated with them, contributing to the rich diversity of the dance music genre.