Searching for the Spirit of Acid House

Has electronic dance music lost its soul?

Emmanuel Ostrovsky/Flickr
Emmanuel Ostrovsky/Flickr

In the past 30 years, electronic dance music (or EDM) has gone from underground culture to a global phenomenon. Journalist Matthew Collin drew on the British rave scene for his earlier work—a book called Altered State. But in the 20 years since that book came out, and even in the time it took to write it, EDM and its culture have completely transformed. The tunes on the radio and the DJs who put on giant shows in places like Ibiza look—and sound—very different from the originators of the genre, like the musicians who invented acid house in 1980s Chicago. Collin traveled around the world to figure out whether the EDM of today still holds onto its liberating roots—or whether commercialization killed the music.

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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