Frankie Knuckles makes his debut at the Warehouse
Frankie Knuckles in 2007 Photo: Claire Greenway/Getty Images

March 1977

You can talk about East Coast–West Coast hip-hop and Studio 54 all you want, but in the realm of Black dance music, Chicagoans can claim one seminal style as theirs and theirs alone. The propulsive synth- and high-hat-juiced remixes of soul and disco records DJ Frankie Knuckles played at the former factory on South Jefferson Street quickly became legend, first for the club’s mostly gay Black crowd, then for everyone else. Warehouse founder Robert Williams described the music succinctly: “Here you’re dancing and all of a sudden it sounds like a train’s coming through the building. It was mind-blowing.”

From the Archives

August 2018 issue
Photo: Michael Zajakowski

Our August 2018 homage to house music featured a ranking of the top 20 local tracks of all time, an ode to Frankie Knuckles by Warehouse founder Robert Williams, and firsthand remembrances, like this one from DJ Ron Trent.

“It wasn’t even called house music back then. It was just ‘music being played at the Warehouse.’ But it became part of my existence. I felt like I had found my tribe. House culture made you different from everybody else. We were the space cadets, the aliens walking around the urban streets of America.”