The House that Jack Built: an Introspective Look at Jack’s Influence on Dance Music
Do you know the story of Jack? Its origins take us back to the late 80s when disco was on its way out and its hotter relative, Chicago house, was starting to bloom. Today, we know this sound as “deep house,” a form of house music known for being more soulful and vocal-centric. These distinct qualities that define deep house began with a song, and that song was “My House” by Rhythm Control, released in 1987 by Catch A Beat Records. This was the first song that featured Chuck Roberts’ mesmerizing speech which continues to influence modern house music to this day.
In the beginning there was Jack … and Jack had a groove
And from this groove came the grooves of all grooves.
And while one day viciously throwing down on his box,
Jack boldly declared “Let There Be House” and House music was born.
“I am you see, I am the creator and this is my house
And in my house there is only House Music.
But I am not so selfish because once you enter my house
it then becomes our house and our House Music.
And, you see, no one man owns house
because House Music is a universal language spoken and understood by all.
You see, House is a feeling that no one can understand
really unless you’re deep into the vibe of House.
House is an uncontrollable desire to Jack your body.
And as I told you before this is our House and our House Music.
And every House you understand there is a keeper.
And in this house the keeper is Jack.
Now some of you might wonder who is Jack and what is it that Jack does.
Jack is the one who gives you the power to Jack your body!
Jack is the one who gives you the power to do the snake!
Jack is the one who gives you the key to the wiggly worm!
Jack is the one who learns you how to whop your body!
Jack is the one that can bring nations and nations of all Jackers together under one house!
You may be black, you may be white, you may be Jew or Gentile.
It don’t make a difference in our house. And this is fresh!”
Chuck Roberts – Chicago – 1987
Interestingly enough, many people believed (and some still do) that Mr. Fingers’ song “Can You Feel It” was the first track to feature the Chuck Roberts sample. The reason they think this is because the instrumental version of the song came out in 1986, one year before “My House.” The vocal sample was later added when it was re-released in 1988. With or without the sample, “Can You Feel It” is still regarded by many as the first deep house record ever created.
Another song took the UK scene by storm one year before the vocal mix of “Can You Feel It” came out. In 1987, Steve Hurley’s “Jack Your Body” was the first house song to reach #1 on UK charts. It also paved the way for the acid house scene and remains a staple song used widely in DJ sets today.
In the late 80s, Chip E told the world it was “Time to Jack,” and a dance was born.
According to the House Dance Project website, “Jacking was a term coined in Chicago for waist-centric launch and recovery dance of house. The Jack represents the control factor in house dance, manipulating the energy by gathering it on the snare and releasing it on the high hat. It is a playful dance that allows for both bold and discreet movement, in both large and small spaces. The dance uses the entire body, not just the feet. Whether fast or slow, on the floor or in the air, lounge or club, the Jack is the foundation.”
Since its origin, Jack has continued to spread and grow stronger. Its influence was first found in song and dance, but then began to play a bigger role in parties. Richie Hawtin’s famous “JAK” parties in the 90s immediately come to mind, taking on different names like JAK ATTACK, JAK-O-LANTERN, & JAKS BACK. Well this year, JAK is returning to Detroit during Movement. Here’s what Hawtin had to say about it on the event’s Facebook page.
The JAK series started in Detroit in 1994 during the “Candy Rave” explosion in North America as our way to get back to the very basic core ingredients of what makes an incredible party: loud & intense sound, darkness enveloped by fog punctuated by brief and often intense lighting effects, and (of course) deep dark bass driven electronic music played by one or two great DJ’s (usually John Acquaviva or myself, LOL).
After all these years, these basic components are STILL at the core of any great clubbing experience. Step into the main room of ENTER.Ibiza and you’ll see how we’ve continued to build upon these ideas over the past 20 years.
Now, we step back to one of those early points and return to Detroit for our next JAK party! Looping in cycles, forever moving forward, returning to points in the past, feeling the present and envisioning the future once yet again.
– Richie Hawtin
So what is Jack?
It’s more than a speech about house music.
It’s more than a dance.
It’s more than a party.
It’s the universal feeling of being connected to people by something that’s bigger than yourself.
Jack is a spirit within all of us that brings us together. It’s the love of dance, the love of music, and the love of togetherness. At its very core, Jack is love.
This is why Jack has inspired so many people – because no matter who we are or what our agenda is, we all love and feel love. And only love is real.
And this is the house that Jack built.
Our Top 5 Songs Inspired by Jack
DJ Sneak: The House that Jack Built
Kindimmer: Jack It!
Sidney Charles: Jack on the Rocks
Funk D’Void: Jack Me Off
We invite you to share your favorite Jack moments below!