Chicago is well known as the birthplace of house music, and few would deny its impact on modern dance music. Since the mid ’90s, however, a new underground, more frenetic style of music, labelled Juke, began to develop at community dance events, far removed from glitzy superclubs.

Despite remaning firmly in the underground, it’s a scene that has endured and evolved. In recent years juke has morphed into something known as footwork (or footwerk, or footwurk), which involves “a blindingly fast-paced movement of the feet in which dancers string together combinations of twists and turns with seamless transitions”.

Back in 2010 Martyn Pepperell described the sound thus,

Existing within the same sonic tradition as Chicago house and ghetto house, footwork and juke place a premium on the juxtaposition of unintentionally avant-garde sound collage with uniquely screwed 150 to 160 BPM drum grooves and cavernous sub bass. All pitched-up (or down) vocal samples, stuttering snare rolls, glistening ambience and rhythmic repetition, once submerged in it, the music evokes similar feelings to hardcore and jungle in their early days.

This scene is rather different from the standard image of a DJ spinning house in a booth removed from, or even invisible to club goers, and closer to the traditional hip-hop dynamic with its equally billing of MCs, DJs and (break)dancers. A look at some of the many juke and footwork videos on YouTube, conjures up images of a kind of post-apocalyptic night at the Wigan Casino.

Most  will take one look at the videos and think, “WTF!” followed by “That’s not music!”. If you are one of the few that don’t, you might enjoy Hiroshima’s first (and only?) Juke/Footwork night at Edge this Friday. It should attract a fair few curious dance music afficionados, and it sure looks like these guys in Japan below are having a good time, so why not give it a go?

DUBLIMINAL BOUNCE presents “GHETTO MANNERS” at Bar Edge on Friday, July 13. More details here.

Paul Walsh

Paul arrived in Hiroshima "for a few months" back in 1996. He is the co-founder of GetHiroshima.com and loves running in the mountains.