There must be a hundred records of voice-overs asking, “What is house?” The answer is always some greeting-card bullshit about “life, love, happiness…” The House Nation likes to pretend clubs are an oasis from suffering, but suffering is in here with us. (If you can get in, that is. I think of one time in New York when they wouldn’t let me into The Loft, and I could hear they were actually playing one of my records on the dancefloor at that very moment. I shit you not.)
So let’s keep sight of the things you’re trying to momentarily escape from. After all, it’s that larger context that created the House movement and brought you here. House is not universal. House is hyper-specific: East Jersey, Loisaida, West Village, Brooklyn—places that conjure specific beats and sounds…
As for the sounds of New York dancefloors themselves, today’s House classics might have gotten worked into a set once in a while, but the majority of music at every club is mayor label vocal shit. (I don’t care what anybody tells you.) Besides, New York Deep House may have started out as minimal, mid-tempo instrumentals, but when distributors began demanding easy selling vocal tracks even the label Strictly Rhythm betrayed the promise of its own name by churning out strictly vocal after strictly vocal. (Most Europeans still think Deep House means shitty, high energy vocal House.)
So what was the New York House Sound? House wasn’t so much a sound as a situation. The majority of DJs, DJs like myself, where nobodies in nowhere clubs, unheard and unpaid. In the words of Sylvester: “Reality was less ‘everybody is a star’ and more ‘I who have nothing’”.
Twenty years later, major distribution gives us Classic House, the same way soundtracks in Vietnam War films gave us classic rock. The contexts from which the Deep House sound emerged are forgotten: sexual and gender crises, transgendered sex work, black-market hormones, drug and alcohol addiction, loneliness, racism, HIV, ACT-UP, Tompkins Square Park, police brutality, queer-bashing, underpayment, unemployment, and censorship—all at 120 beats per minute.”
— DJ Sprinkles: “Midtown 120 Intro” from the 2009 album “Midtown 120 Blues”.