Ever wonder if cavemen were actually rave men? Well, archaeologists haven’t figured that one out quite yet, but here’s a brief history on what we do know about the origins of clubbing.
The first instances of nightclubs in America were called Honkey Tonks and Juke Joints, which sprouted up in the 1900s to the 1920s. Here, working class Americans socialized and danced to music plaid on a piano or jukebox.
Webster Hall is considered to be the first official American Nightclub. It was built in 1986 and started out as a hall not just for dancing, but for political activism as well.
During Prohibition, many nightclubs were forced to go underground and were referred to as Speakeasies.
After Prohibition ended, several popular nightclubs sprouted up. Some of these include legendary venues such as the Copacabana, El Morocco and the Stork Club.
During WWII, jazz, bebop music and certain dances such as the Jitterbug were all banned in German-occupied France because the Nazis did not like the “American influence”. However, the French were not having it and met at secret underground venues called discotheques. There were also underground clubs in Nazi Germany, founded by anti-Nazi young people called “swing kids”.
In 1947, a Paris discotheque named Whisky A Gogo was founded, and with it came the modern day nightclub scene. This nightclub was the first to incorporate colored lights and turntables to provide an unstoppable soundtrack to the evening.
In the 1970s, the advent of Disco led to what we know now as modern day nightclubs. Disco clubs first started out as places where oppressed groups of people such as blacks, gays, Latinos and Jews could congregate and have a good time. Disco culture was all about exploring sexuality and pushing the envelope on what was appropriate, and therefore drew a lot of scrutiny from many uptight individuals. Disco clubs also provided a place for rebellious young people to join in an alternative counterculture.
During the 1980s, London had one of the most popular clubbing scenes. Electronic and reggae-inspired music became the staple.
The 1990s paved the way for today’s modern club scene. Electronic, techno, house and trance music became popular and DJs spun the latest beats all night long. Raving also became popular, and with it came “club drugs” such as MDMA.
Today, clubbing has been brought out of the counterculture and is now considered to be popular culture. Clubs have moved from being literally underground to now being in almost every city. However, one fact still remains. Clubs are still places for young people to let loose, have a great night, and dance.