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The 80’s was a decade filled with iconic music and memorable dance moves. From the infectious beats of disco to the electrifying sounds of new wave, 80’s dance music had a unique charm that continues to captivate audiences today. With its pulsating rhythms, catchy melodies, and vibrant synthesizers, this era produced some of the most beloved and enduring dance tracks in history. In this article, we will take a trip down memory lane and explore the evolution and impact of 80’s dance music, from its origins to its lasting influence on the music industry. So put on your dancing shoes and get ready to groove to the sounds of the 80’s!

Origins of 80’s dance music

The 80’s was a transformative decade for the music industry, with the rise of new and exciting genres that would dominate the charts for years to come. One such genre that gained immense popularity during this time was 80’s dance music. This energetic and upbeat style of music captivated audiences worldwide and still holds a special place in the hearts of many music enthusiasts today.

Disco, Funk, and Electronic Influences

The origins of 80’s dance music can be traced back to the disco and funk movements of the 1970s. Disco, with its infectious rhythms and groovy basslines, provided the foundation for dance music to evolve and take on a new form. Funk, known for its heavy emphasis on syncopated rhythms and catchy melodies, also played a crucial role in shaping the sound of 80’s dance music.

Another significant influence on 80’s dance music was the emergence of electronic instruments and synthesizers. These technological advancements allowed artists to experiment with innovative sounds, creating a unique blend of organic and synthesized elements that defined the genre. Songs were often characterized by their pulsating beats, vibrant synthesizer melodies, and catchy hooks that got people moving on the dance floor.

Underground Dance Scene and DJ Culture

The rise of 80’s dance music was also closely tied to the vibrant underground dance scene and the culture surrounding DJs. Nightclubs became the breeding ground for new sounds and styles, where DJs would mix and remix tracks, creating extended dance versions that kept the party going all night long. These DJs became influential figures in the music industry, curating playlists and introducing audiences to new artists and genres.

Crossover Success and Mainstream Popularity

As the 80’s progressed, 80’s dance music began to cross over into the mainstream and gain widespread popularity. Artists like Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Prince embraced the dance sound, incorporating it into their music and creating chart-topping hits that appealed to a wide range of listeners. Iconic songs such as “Billie Jean,” “Like a Virgin,” and “Purple Rain” became anthems of the 80’s and solidified dance music’s place in popular culture.

Disco: The rise and fall

Disco music played a pivotal role in the development of 80’s dance music. Emerging in the 1970s, disco was characterized by its infectious beats, soulful vocals, and emphasis on dancing. It was heavily influenced by funk, soul, and R&B, but also incorporated elements of electronic music. Disco quickly gained popularity, dominating the airwaves and dance floors of the era.

The 80’s dance music scene owes much of its sound and style to disco. Artists like Donna Summer, Bee Gees, and Chic were at the forefront of this movement, creating iconic disco hits that remain timeless today. The disco era was known for its flamboyant fashion, glitzy nightclubs, and extravagant parties, creating a vibrant and energetic atmosphere that fueled the dance music revolution.

However, disco’s reign was not without challenges. By the late 1970s, a backlash against disco began to emerge. Some critics argued that disco was superficial and manufactured, lacking the authenticity of rock and roll. This sentiment, coupled with a declining economy and increased racial tension, led to what became known as the “Disco Demolition Night” in 1979, where thousands of disco records were destroyed in protest at a baseball game in Chicago.

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Despite the backlash, disco’s influence on 80’s dance music cannot be denied. Many artists and producers continued to incorporate disco elements into their music, bridging the gap between the two genres. It was during this time that electronic music started to make its presence felt, with the use of synthesizers and drum machines becoming more prevalent in dance music production.

The rise and fall of disco had a lasting impact on 80’s dance music, shaping its sound, style, and culture. While disco may have faced a temporary setback, its influence continued to be felt throughout the decade, laying the foundation for the evolution of dance music in the 80s.

Important facts about disco:

Disco Music
Emerged in the 1970s
Influenced by funk, soul, R&B, and electronic music
Dominated the airwaves and dance floors of the era
Artists like Donna Summer, Bee Gees, and Chic were at the forefront
Known for its flamboyant fashion and extravagant parties
Faced backlash and criticism, but continued to influence 80’s dance music

New wave: A new sound emerges

In the vibrant and ever-evolving landscape of 80’s dance music, a new sound emerged, bringing with it a fresh wave of creativity and innovation. This musical movement, aptly named “New Wave,” swept across the music scene, captivating audiences with its eclectic blend of genres and distinctive style.

New Wave was characterized by its energetic and edgy sound, incorporating elements of punk, rock, electronic, and pop music. It offered a departure from the disco-dominated sounds of the previous decade, providing a new avenue for artists to explore and experiment with their music.

During the early 80’s, New Wave bands such as Depeche Mode, The Cure, and Siouxsie and the Banshees emerged as pioneers of the genre, pushing the boundaries of traditional song structure and production techniques. They embraced synthesizers and drum machines, creating a sound that was both futuristic and captivating.

One of the defining features of New Wave was its emphasis on individuality and self-expression. Artists often showcased their distinct personalities through their music, fashion, and performances. The androgynous fashion of bands like The Human League and Duran Duran became iconic symbols of the era, challenging traditional gender norms and redefining the concept of style.

The popularity of New Wave continued to grow throughout the 80’s, with new bands and artists adding their unique flavors to the genre. Acts like A-Ha, Tears for Fears, and Blondie achieved widespread success, blending catchy melodies with thought-provoking lyrics.

By combining elements of various genres, New Wave extended its reach beyond the dance floor, appealing to a wide range of music enthusiasts. It embraced experimentation and encouraged artists to push boundaries, resulting in an era of creativity and innovation.

The legacy of New Wave can still be felt in contemporary music. Its influence can be seen in the work of modern-day artists who continue to draw inspiration from the sounds and styles of the 80’s. The impact of this musical movement on the landscape of dance music is undeniable, leaving an indelible mark on the industry that still resonates today.

MTV and the influence of music videos

In the 1980s, a revolutionary medium emerged that would forever change the landscape of popular music – the music video. This new art form offered a visually captivating and immersive experience, allowing artists to tell stories, showcase their creativity, and enhance their songs in ways that had never been possible before. At the forefront of this music video revolution was MTV (Music Television), a cable television channel dedicated to airing music videos 24 hours a day.

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MTV quickly gained popularity and became a cultural phenomenon, reaching millions of viewers around the world. With the launch of MTV, the visuals became just as important as the music itself. Artists took advantage of this visual platform to showcase their unique styles, personalities, and artistic visions. Music videos became an integral part of an artist’s brand and an essential tool for gaining exposure and connecting with fans.

Through music videos, artists were able to transcend boundaries and reach a wider audience. Iconic music videos from the 80s, such as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” and A-ha’s “Take on Me,” not only captivated viewers with their stunning visuals but also became cultural touchstones that are still celebrated today.

MTV also played a pivotal role in introducing new artists and genres to the masses. The channel helped launch the careers of many 80s artists, such as Duran Duran, Prince, and Cyndi Lauper, by giving them a platform to showcase their unique sound and style. This exposure on MTV propelled these artists to international stardom.

Furthermore, the influence of MTV extended beyond the music industry. Fashion trends, hairstyles, and even dance moves were often inspired by the music videos that dominated the channel. MTV became a cultural tastemaker, setting the standard for what was considered cool and popular.

The impact of MTV and the rise of music videos in the 80s cannot be overstated. It forever changed the way we consume music and shaped the visual language of popular culture. The influence of music videos can still be seen today, with countless artists continuing to create visually stunning and captivating videos to accompany their music. The 80s was truly a golden era for both the music and the visuals that accompanied it.

Iconic dance moves of the 80’s

The 80’s was a decade known for its vibrant and energetic dance music, and it wouldn’t be complete without the iconic dance moves that accompanied it. These moves not only became synonymous with the music of the era but also became cultural phenomenons that are still recognized and imitated today.

1. The Moonwalk: Perhaps the most famous dance move of the 80’s, the Moonwalk was popularized by the legendary pop artist Michael Jackson. It involves sliding backward while appearing to walk forward, creating an illusion of floating. Jackson’s effortless execution of this move captivated audiences worldwide and solidified his status as the King of Pop.

2. The Running Man: Another dance move that skyrocketed in popularity during the 80’s is the Running Man. This move involves a combination of running in place and a kicking motion of the legs, creating a dynamic and visually striking dance routine. Artists like MC Hammer and Bobby Brown incorporated the Running Man into their performances, turning it into a staple move of the era.

3. The Electric Slide: The Electric Slide is a line dance that became a staple at many parties and weddings during the 80’s. It involves a series of coordinated steps and slides, performed in synchronization with the music. The simplicity and inclusivity of the Electric Slide made it accessible to people of all ages and dance abilities, ensuring its enduring popularity.

4. The Cabbage Patch: The Cabbage Patch dance move gained popularity in the 80’s, thanks to its catchy name and simple yet funky motions. It involves moving the arms and legs in a playful and exaggerated manner, emulating the movements of a dancing cabbage patch doll. This dance move was often seen at parties and music videos, adding a touch of light-heartedness to the dance floor.

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5. The Roger Rabbit: The Roger Rabbit dance move is characterized by quick leg movements that mimic the hopping motions of a rabbit. It gained prominence during the 80’s, inspired by the dance moves in the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” This fun and energetic dance move became a hit among dancers and fans of the movie alike.


The 80’s dance music scene was a vibrant and influential era that shaped the sound, style, and culture of the decade. From the disco roots to the emergence of New Wave, the music of the 80’s offered a diverse range of sounds and styles for music lovers to enjoy. New Wave, with its energetic and edgy sound, provided a departure from the disco-dominated sounds of the previous decade and paved the way for artists to explore new avenues of creativity. Bands like Depeche Mode, The Cure, and Siouxsie and the Banshees pushed the boundaries of traditional song structure and production techniques, leaving a lasting impact on the music industry. The rise of music videos, particularly through MTV, revolutionized the way we consume music and influenced popular culture in significant ways. The iconic dance moves of the 80’s, such as the Moonwalk and the Electric Slide, became synonymous with the music of the era and are still recognized and celebrated today. The legacy of 80’s dance music continues to inspire and influence contemporary artists, ensuring that its impact will be felt for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the significance of disco in the development of 80’s dance music?

A: Disco played a crucial role in shaping 80’s dance music by introducing rhythmic beats, catchy melodies, and a focus on dancing. It set the foundation for the energetic and dance-oriented sound that would dominate the decade.

Q: What is New Wave music and how did it differ from disco?

A: New Wave music emerged in the 80’s as a departure from the disco sound. It incorporated elements from punk, rock, electronic, and pop music, resulting in an energetic and edgier style. The emphasis shifted from continuous dancing to more diverse and experimental sounds.

Q: Who were some pioneering New Wave bands?

A: Pioneering New Wave bands included Depeche Mode, The Cure, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. These artists pushed the boundaries of traditional song structure and production techniques, creating unique and innovative music.

Q: How did New Wave artists express individuality and self-expression?

A: New Wave artists expressed individuality and self-expression through their music, fashion, and performances. They showcased distinct personalities and experimented with unconventional styles, setting themselves apart from mainstream trends.

Q: What impact did music videos have in the 80’s?

A: Music videos had a significant impact in the 80’s, particularly with the rise of MTV. They became a crucial tool for artists to showcase their unique styles, gain exposure, and shape popular culture. Music videos shaped fashion trends, hairstyles, and dance moves, forever changing how we consume music.

Q: What are some iconic dance moves from the 80’s?

A: Iconic dance moves from the 80’s include the Moonwalk, the Running Man, the Electric Slide, the Cabbage Patch, and the Roger Rabbit. These dances became synonymous with the music of the era and are still recognized and imitated today.

By Editor

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