Main Types Of Dance MusicTraditional - Dance music that existed before Disco and Electronic Dance Music. This website has nothing to do with this type of music.
Electronica - Originally it referred to Ambient, but the term is now used to refer to all types of electronic music. Electronica is also used as a synonym for Electronic Dance Music.
Latin Dance - Generally this means Salsa, Merengue, Mambo, Samba, Rumba, Samba, and Cha-Cha, but can also include some Latin House, Latin Pop, Latin Hip-Hop, Tex-Mex, Tejano, and Tropical. This website has little to do with most of these styles directly, but most modern dance music has been influenced by them to some degree.
Disco - The first type of modern dance music. It began in gay nightclubs in the USA in the early 1970s as a fusion of black music (R&B/soul) and Latin music. Disco often employed early electronic music synthesizers, but could also be composed with live instruments and even full orchestras. Disco broke out of the underground club scene in 1974 to become radio friendly pop-dance and mainstream dance music. It was played in clubs called discotheques that were extremely popular. In the USA an anti-disco backlash led by rock fans effectively killed disco by 1980, though in Europe it remained popular and became Euro-dance or Hi-NRG. House and techno are the offspring of disco.
House - (Also known as Garage in the UK) The predominate type of dance music. It developed as an underground form of disco in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It's beginning is often associated with a club called the Warehouse in Chicago, USA. It quickly spread to Detroit, New York, and the UK. House music uses a standard 4/4 beat like disco, but employs stronger synthesizer and drum machine use with heavier bass and more electronic effects. Hi-NRG and Eurodance also evolved from disco and can be thought of as Euro House. By the 2000s much electronic dance music has blended elements of disco, house, techno, and trance to become modern house.
Techno - Techno primarily originated from certain DJs in Detroit, Michigan (USA) in the mid-1980s. Unlike disco or house, Techno is completely composed by electronic equipment and usually does not contain vocals. Techno is usually faster than house with 130-150 BPMs. The main types of Techno are Acid, Ambient Techno, New Beat, Hardcore, and Industrial (though Industrial is often thought of as a separate style). Tech House is a modern form of Techno influenced by House.
Trance - a 1990s offshoot of Acid House, Techno, and Ambient that mostly started in clubs in Frankfurt, Germany. Trance consists of repetitive hypnotic beats and more melodic structures than house or techno. It is entirely composed with synthesizers and employs heavy use of effects such as reverb, delay, phasing, and flanging. A trance song usually consists of several anthemic buildups and breakdowns. BPMs of modern trance are slightly faster than House. Early trance did not have vocals, but modern vocal trance using female vocals has become very popular. Artists include: Tiesto, Armin van Buuren, ATB, BT, Markus Schulz, Paul van Dyk, Ferry Corsten, Above & Beyond, Paul Oakenfold, Johan Gielen, Gabriel & Dresden.
Hi-NRG & Euro-Dance - Disco remained popular through the 1980s in Europe and slowly evolved into today's European House music. Italo Disco, Euro-Disco, Euro-Dance, Eurobeat, Freestyle, and Euro House are closely related. Hi-NRG (high energy) was a faster form of disco popular in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s. Euro-Dance and Hi-NRG feature positive uplifting lyrics mainly sung by a female vocalist and often feature short sections of male rap. All types of Euro-Dance are usually sung in English (or at least released in an English version) regardless of the singer's nationality. The distinction between Euro-Dance and European House is very blurred, but this website tends to classify Hi-NRG/Euro-Dance as music from the 1980s to 90s, while most 2000s European Dance music is simply called House.
Freestyle - a type of Latin House music heavily influenced by disco, electro, and rap. Freestyle is typically vocal with the lyrics sung in either English or Spanish. BPMs are in the range of 110 to 130. It was popular in clubs and on the radio in the 1980s to early 1990s, especially in Miami and New York. Freestyle became the predominate form of dance music in some American dance clubs in the late 1980s and also crossed over to pop radio success. In Europe Freestyle was referred to as Hi-NRG.
Pop-Dance - Pop music that happens to be danceable. Much Euro-Pop and radio friendly Disco can also be classified under this category. Artists include Madonna, Debbie Gibson, The Spice Girls, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Backstreet Boys, and NSYNC.
Ambient - Also known as Chill-out, Downtempo, Electronica, Lounge, or IDM (Intelligent Dance Music). This is "dance music" that is meant to be listened to rather than danced to. Often it is house music with a slower, less pronounced beat. Ambient may or may not have vocals. It is often very similar to New Age or modern Jazz.
Drum and Bass - Also known as Drum 'n' Bass, DnB, or Jungle. A style of music developed in the UK in the early 1990s that was originally called Jungle. It incorporates very fast broken beat drums from 160 to 200 BPM. Jungle was a fast, loud, pounding offshoot of acid house and breakbeat that often contained raga vocals. Around the mid-1990s Jungle lost its ragga influence and became known as Drum and Bass. Jungle is basically synonomous with Drum and Bass today, but is often referred to as a earlier style of it.
Breakbeat - Also known as breaks. A style of dance music not utilizing the standard 4/4 beat pattern. It is in the range of 125-135 BPM (about the same as house music). Breakbeat was originally derived from the "breaks" in funk, soul, jazz, or house music - the parts of the song where the bass beat stops for a time. The break was often considered the most interesting part of the song. Breaks from funk and soul music were also used in the development of rap music.
Electro - Originally a type of Rap music that incorporated a lot of electronic sounds and special effects such as those from drum machines, synthesizers, and vocoders. Electro may include rapping, or singing, or may be instrumental. The genre merged and disappeared in the mid-1980s, though started to reappear in the mid-1990s. Electro made a huge comback around 2006 as a type of Progressive House. The pioneers of Electro were Afrika Bambaataa. Other notable artists include Kraftwerk, Cybotron, Hashim, Grandmaster Flash, Yaz, Mantronix, Thomas Dolby, Cybotron, Newcleus, and Herbie Hancock.
Synth Pop - A type of pop/rock music incorporating heavy use of synthesizers (often MIDI controlled along with drum machines and sequencers). A lot of New Wave music in the 1980s was Synth Pop and included groups like the Eurythmics, Depeche Mode, Erasure, Pet Shop Boys, and Duran Duran. A few 2000s groups like Fischerspooner, Goldfrapp, The Killers, and La Roux have revived the sound. Most Synth Pop acts have songs that crossed over onto the dance charts. The Synth Pop sound has influenced most mainstream music as well as dance music. Synth Pop is also known as Synthpop, Electropop, and Technopop. A similar subgenre, Electroclash, was a merger of Synth Pop, Techno, and Punk and includes such groups as Fischerspooner, Scissor Sisters, Felix da Housecat and Miss Kittin.
Hardcore - A type of techno that emerged from the UK rave scene and other parts of western Europe in the early 1990s. It is characterized by a very heavy beat and a very fast tempo and often has sped up vocals. Hardcore is influenced by techno, industrial, breakbeat, drum and bass, jungle, and progressive house. UK hardcore has evolved from the happy hardcore sound of the '90s and has gained popularity since the early to mid-2000s.
Dubstep - A relatively new type of techno music characterized by heavy bass and sub-bass, special effects like wobble bass, reverberation and clipped sampling; and a tempo around 140 bpm. It contains few vocals. Early dubstep started in London in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It was influenced by drum ‘n’ bass, 2-step garage, reggae, and dub. Dubstep is also similar to grime. American dubstep producers such as Skrillex have a more industrial sounding heavy metal and dark electro-house style. Dubstep dancers have robotic moves similar to hip-hop popping and locking.
Urban - Basically any Rap, Hip-Hop or Modern R&B song that is also a dance song.
Hip House - A combination of Hip-Hop (Urban) and House music that emerged in the late 1980s. It was very popular in the 1990s and has seen a resurgence in the 2010s with crossover producers such as Black Eyed Peas and David Guetta. Related styles include Eurohouse, Electro, and Grime.
Reggaeton - A type of urban dance music which is a combination of Jamaican Dancehall, Jamaican Raggae, Traditional Puerto Rican dance music, and American Rap music. The lyrics are usually rapped in Spanish. It had it's start in Panama and Puerto Rico in the early 1990s. It spread to other Latin Americans countries during the 1990s, then to urban centers in the United States and around the world in the 2000s. Artists include: El General, Vico C, Don Chezina, Speedy, Plan B, Luny Tunes, Noriega, Daddy Yankee, N.O.R.E., Don Omar.
For another perspective on dance subgenres and styles see EuroDanceHits.com Dance Dictionary