The story of how footwork — hyper-fast, repetitive, mesmerizing bass-heavy dance music from Chicago — transcended its local roots and became a global phenomenon is as much a story about postmodernity, and the way the internet has changed the way we listen to, consume, and share music, as it is about footwork itself.
Footwork began in the late 1980s as "juke," a sped-up, 150-beat-per-minute twist on ghetto house from Chicago. Street dancers developed new dance techniques, feet shuffling at a breakneck pace, to match the increased tempo — and called it footwork. By the early 2000s these footwork dancers began DJing and producing their own tunes at even faster speeds (160-165 b.p.m. is standard), stripping tracks down to a blur of snares, syncopated kicks, and chopped-up vocal samples.
RP Boo, this party's headliner, is widely credited as being the first footwork producer, the one who laid out the map in Chicago. But it wasn't until two British DJs and label heads (Mike Paradinas aka mu-ziq, owner of electronic label Planet Mu, and Steve Goodman, aka Kode9, owner of label Hyperdub) began to explore footwork and, eventually, release it on their record labels that it moved out of inner-city Chicago and onto the world stage. By the time Hyperdub released the late DJ Rashad's album Double Cup in 2013, footwork had become a fixture in clubs and at festivals across the globe.
This footwork showcase in San Francisco provides an excellent introduction to the sound, featuring the aforementioned innovator Boo as well as Traxman, another long-active Chicagoan whose take on footwork is as emotional and surreal as it is bombastic and kinetic. Nonfuture, a footwork and jungle producer from L.A., joins them alongside Sam Supa, a San Francisco-based footwork DJ.
And if you're intimidated by the thought of needing dance lessons to get down to footwork, fret not: As DJ Rashad himself said in an interview with Pitchfork: "As long as they [the crowd] get the vibe and everything's cool, that's our goal right now. They can learn the footwork later."
10 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday, Sept. 5. $20; feightsf.com.
Other worthy parties this week
Dax Presents Seth Troxler & Craig Richards with Tim Green and more at Public Works, 9 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 4. $15-$20; publicsf.com
Seth Troxler — in case you're not already familiar with him — is an internationally renowned, globe-trotting DJ with an outsize personality and a head of hair to match. Ranked the No. 1 DJ in the world in 2012 by Resident Advisor, this party marks his only San Francisco appearance in 2014, and it's a special one: He's brought along Craig Richards (resident DJ at London mega-club Fabric) for an extended back-to-back set. Troxler and Richards have performed many sets together, which means their "DJ chemistry" should be on full display all night long. They're joined by Tim Green of S.F.'s Dirtybird, performing an opening set, and Felix Dickinson, Dave Harvey, and Dax Lee, who will take over the upstairs Loft at Public Works for all-disco sets all night.
We Are Monsters Third Anniversary featuring Lovefingers and Heidi Lawden at Underground SF, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, Sept. 5. $5; undergroundsf.com
We Are Monsters' resident DJs, Solar, Mozghan, and Jason Greer, have spent three years homing in on a very particular sound: the hazy, psychedelic, throbbing pulse at the intersection of cosmic disco, acid house, new beat, and dancefloor-ready post-punk. Lovefingers, an N.Y.C.-based music-obsessive, DJ, and label head, brings his mix of freaky disco and outsider house to San Francisco for the party's third birthday. Joining him is Heidi Lawden, an L.A.-based DJ with a similar outlook to Lovefingers: disco (classic and nu-), house, and slower, chugging techno.
Push the Feeling presents Brian Ellis and Hotthobo at Underground SF, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 6. $6; undergroundsf.com
The spirit of boogie, funk, and old-school electro is alive and well in San Francisco. The latest edition of Push the Feeling plays host to the release party for Brian Ellis' new EP, Reflection, consisting of six slices of straight-up, bonafide vintage machine funk, the first track of which is a collaboration with Egyptian Lover, which should give you an idea of what it sounds like. It's released on San Francisco's Voltaire Records, owned and operated by Randy "Hotthobo" Ellis — who will be providing a DJ set consisting of all things funk and boogie.
Go BANG! celebrates Sylvester with Paul Goodyear at The Stud, 9 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 6. Free before 10 p.m., $7 after; studsf.com
Sylvester James Jr., better known simply as Sylvester, was a disco innovator and a San Francisco legend. Go BANG! celebrates his legacy by inviting veteran San Francisco DJ Paul Goodyear to perform guest duties on the decks. Expect to hear loads of Sylvester all night long as well as other disco, funk, and hi-NRG classics — so take heed of the party motto, "dress to sweat." Jocquese Whitfield of Vogue & Tone will also perform a vogue performance alongside a vocal performance by Tobirus Mozelle, all in Sylvester's honor. Resident DJs Steve Fabus and Sergio Fedasz will open and close the festivities.