The History of DJing

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DJs: the epitome of modern entertainment, the talented human music player, the ones that keep you jigging all night long! To think there was a time without the turntables seems absurd, but the term ‘disc jockey’ didn’t even come around until 1935! Let’s delve deeper into the history of the music madness DJs have created…

The Very Beginning


As mentioned, the term ‘disk jockey’ was first coined by Walter Winchell when he described radio announcer Martin Block in 1935, but it wasn’t until 1943 that the first DJ dance party was held in Otley, England by the same man who became the first DJ to ever use twin turntables. In the same year, the Whiskey a Go-Go nightclub opened in Paris, France, and was the first commercial discotheque. There were other nightclubs before this – I mean, how else could the world survive! – but this was the first club to play recorded music rather than to have a live band playing.

The 50s


At the start of the 50s, DJs became more prevalent, often appearing at sock hop parties and performing live. They often only had one turn table, and would either chit chat or hore a drummer to play between songs – something that’s unheard of today, imagine the uproar if the music stopped! As the 50s progressed, so did DJing, as Bob Casey brought in the two turntable system in 1955, and sound systems were developed in Kingston, Jamaica. This was a turning point in the history of DJing, and was the start of the modern form of entertainment we know, love and boogie to today!

The 60s & 70s

As time went on, nightclubs and discotheques grew more popular throughout Europe and the United State. Specialised DJ equipment began to appear on the market, and new techniques, such as beatmatching and slip-cuing, were invented, many of which are still used today. In 1973, the ‘father of hip-hop culture,’ DJ Kool Herc, performed at block parties in his neighbourhood, sparking their popularity, and also introducing the turntablism technique which allows DJs to create original music.

During the mid-70s, hip-hop stole the show, originating in New York City from urban African Americans and Latinos, before spreading throughout the rest of the world. The min-70s was, in fact, a major year in the history of DJing as record pools began, allowing DJs to access newer music more easily. After the release of the hit ‘Rappers Delight’ in 1979 by the Sugar Hill Gang, it was clear hip-hop was going to take over the music industry, leading to Tom L. Lewis introducing the Disco Beats; a list of disco songs according to their beats per minute tempo. The Disco Beats was a huge breakthrough for new DJs as they could learn how to create seamless transitions between songs without having to change their rhythm.


The 80s

In 1981, the MTV was launched; a television network dedicated to showcasing music videos. The term ‘video jockey’ – VJ – was given to the young presenters that introduced the videos, but the demise of disco music in 1982 was troubling for DJs as nightclubs and discotheques began to close and they had to turn to other entertainment styles. However, this was the same year as the ‘Big Bang’ of the audio revolution as the Compact Disc entered the public market in Asia. Also in the early 80s, DJ Larry Levan became a prototype of the modern dance club as he gained a following at the Paradise Garage which showcase both the DJ and his music at the same time. It was around the same period that house music emerged in Chicago, with Jesse Saunders releasing the very first house music track in 1983!

In fact, the 80s was a new era for disco music as its demise during the 1982 forced DJs into creating music hybrids with new sounds and original disco elements. Garage music was showcased in New York during the mid-80s, and techno originated in the Detriot club scene. In 1985, the Winter Music Conference began, paving the way for DJ conferences, and in the same year the first DJ-published music magazine appeared on the shelves: the TRAX Dance Music Guide. This was shortly followed by the DJ Times magazine’s first publication in 1988.

Back in London, house music was taking off with London DJs Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling, Johnny Walker, and Nicky Holloway all putting on nights having returned from a summer in Ibiza in 1987.
While house music had been played in cities in Northern England, the scene really took off in the capital during the late 80s.
Some of these big classic house tunes still influence our London Wedding DJ sets.


The 90s

As many can probably remember, the early 90s was the birthplace of the rave scene! The rave scene was yet another big breakthrough for DJing as ‘superstar’ DJs were able to start making a name for themselves and develop brands for their sounds. In 1993, the first internet radio station was created by Carl Malamud, which now enabled DJs of all skill levels to operate from personal computers. This was amplified once the first MP3 player was released in 1998, creating the very first digital DJ system. A year later, the Audio Video Licensing Agency of Canada announced an MP3 DJing license, completely transforming the way DJs could operate as instead of lugging their CD collections to gigs, they could now store and operate from a single hard drive!


The 2000s – Now

Since the start of the 2000s, we’ve seen nothing but technological advancements, and with this has come development after development in the DJing industry. High tech digital sound mixers have led to an entirely new culture of DJ integration, internet software led to the creation of virtual DJs, and the introduction of DJ battles gave the industry its competitive rights. DJing is no longer just about playing songs as it once was, DJing is now about manipulating sound to produce incredible music, and developing an atmosphere to go with it through lighting and effects. The history of DJing and the continual breakthroughs over the past 80 years, has led to us developing Discologic: the leading wedding DJ in a number of areas throughout England, including Kent and London!

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