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by Barry Walters

June 7, 2013

Morning Music /"Sleaze"/ Early A.M. Disco

by Barry Walters  |  June 7, 2013

Back in the day, when variable-speed turntables were a relatively new invention, DJs very much wanted to create the perfect mix. Matching beats were only part of that. The most ambitious DJs, particularly those who played night after night until 4 a.m. -- or in the case of many private membership clubs, several hours after the sun came up -- aimed to take their dancers on a journey that mirrored nature's own peaks and ebbs. Typically, the energy and tempos and intensity of the music would build and build until sometime in the early morning hours, when they'd all ever so gradually recede.

To accomplish the downshift, DJs would bring out what's often called "morning music" or its typically slower subset, "sleaze," which is usually sexy but only rarely actually sleazy. To the contrary, morning music and sleaze remained sophisticated throughout the '80s and even into the '90s, while dance music generally got simpler and harder. To construct morning music and sleaze sets, DJs drew from mid-tempo soul, New Wave, European pop, some easy listening, a little touch of jazz, and other forms of gentle disco. Together, these warm and caressing tracks would ease dancers down from their drugs, but leave them elated and ready to take somebody home.

Reacting against the relentlessly fast and banging beats of today's EDM, a new generation of DJs like Lindstrøm and the Horse Meat Disco crew are rediscovering these early morning evergreens. A few are known to nearly everybody, but far more remain primarily known to the surviving club-goers and DJs of dance shrines like New York's 12 West, Paradise Garage, the Trocadero Transfer, and the Saint. May that forever change.

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