Footwork is a style of house dance/street dance that originated in Chicago in the late 1990s. Footwork music is a blended style of electronic dance music derived from ghetto house with elements of hip hop, first appearing in Chicago in the early 1990s. The music style evolved from the earlier, rapid rhythms of juke and ghetto house, a change pioneered by RP Boo. It may draw from the rapid rhythms and sub-bass frequencies of drum & bass. Tracks also frequently feature heavily syncopated samples from rap, pop and other sources, and are often around 160 bpm.
|Stylistic origins||Ghetto house|
|Cultural origins||1990s, Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Typical instruments||Sampler, drum machine (Roland TR-808), synthesizer, sequencer|
|Derivative forms||Future bass, drill|
The dance involves fast movement of the feet with accompanying twists and turns, and usually takes place as part of a "battle". The style was popularized outside Chicago by inclusion in the music video for Dude 'n Nem's 2007 single "Watch My Feet".
Radio station Afropop Worldwide remarked on the genre and its developments in 2011, saying that:
The most recent development in house's evolution, however, is a sound called 'footwork'. On Friday evenings at the Underground Tracks Factory, teenagers face off and improvise footwork dance battles. Their feet fly at insane speeds, something of a cross between house dance, tap dancing and breakdancing footwork. It looks like a dance from another dimension. The music they dance to is related to juke, but it's way more spacious, with more rhythmic complexity. Some tracks like "Reverb" by DJ Rashad are downright experimental walls of pulsating noise that would make John Cage proud. All these styles speak to the truth that house music never really left Chicago, as is often said. Its legacy continues to reverberate and mutate throughout the city.
The first internationally recognized compilations of footwork music were released on the label Planet Mu as Bangs & Works Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. The liner notes for Vol. 1 describe the style as "a hyper rhythmic, abstract dance music, pitched around 160bpm, that largely consists of a template of cut-up samples and phrases that are twisted into repetitive rhythms & shapes, to offbeat, syncopated drum machine patterns and pumping sub-bass lines."
- "The 14 drum machines that shaped modern music". FactMag.com. September 22, 2016. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
- Sheffield, Hazel (2010-05-27). "Footwork takes competitive dancing to the Chicago streets". The Guardian. Retrieved January 26, 2011.
- "How Footwork Began: An Interview With DJ Clent". The Quietus. 16 May 2017. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
- SAMI YENIGUN and WILLS GLASSPIEGEL (December 6, 2010). "Chicago's Footwork Music And Dance Get A Transatlantic Lift". National Public Radio. Retrieved January 26, 2011.
- Arnold, Jacob. "Fancy footwork: how Chicago's juke scene found its feet again". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
- Cush, Andy. "Jlin's Rust Belt Modernism". Spin. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
- Raymer, Miles (April 1, 2010). "Music for Feet:The Chicago dance style footwork already has MTV's attention". Chicago Reader. Retrieved January 26, 2011.
- "Midwest Electric: The Story of Chicago House and Detroit Techno". Afropop Worldwide. 2011-06-16. Event occurs at 7:30. Public Radio International. Archived from the original on June 22, 2011. Retrieved June 17, 2011.
- "Bangs & Works Vol.1 (A Chicago Footwork Compilation)". Planet Mu Bandcamp. Retrieved 23 August 2020.