Jacking, or jackin', as it is more commonly known, is a dance technique and music form that first became popular in the late 1980s as one of the myriad music forms which arose from the last days of disco. Though there continues to be some dispute as to a single absolute stylistic origin, "jacking" music and dance most likely came from the multicultural roots in the early underground Chicago house.
Originally jacking's two most prominent divergent forms, the Chicago jacking scene is linked to other styles of Chicago house music like acid house and deep house, while the European jacking form trended slightly towards a tribal "hard house" underground, punk, and house scenes. The dancing and music forms of jacking itself were sexually charged in its earliest forms, with couples (often two men or two women) grinding their pelvises together. Jackin's style merged with many dance styles popular during the early American acid house scene and UK House scenes.
When referring to house dancing this word has taken on a slightly more specific and somewhat less sexual meaning. Jacking is a dance technique that comes from moving the torso forward and backward in a rippling motion, as if a wave were passing through it. When this movement is repeated and sped up to match the beat of a song it is called jacking, or "the jack." This technique is arguably the most important movement in house dance because it is the foundation that initiates more complex movements and footwork. Jacking has also permeated many other divergent forms of house and freestyle broken beat music and dance. Just as house music itself grew from the disco tradition, so too, did jacking's dance develop from the self-expressive styling of disco dancing. Unlike partner ballroom type dance forms such as the waltz and foxtrot, Jacking is considered a freestyle dance.
Jacking's early exportation from the U.S. to Europe spawned a repatriation of sorts in the early 1990s, along with the spread of house. Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation" and Madonna's "Vogue" are two quintessential jackin beats that had massive crossover pop appeal, the main difference between these pop songs and jackin' beat being a slight, "popped up" slowing down of both meter and lyrics to make them more palatable to a mainstream audience. Like most jackin' moves, however, both singers' corresponding videos featured highly stylized, "hard" motion choreography which characterized both singers' careers in the '90s.
More recently, some well known House artists like Stacy Kidd and Jamiroquai have made use of Jack beats, often incorporating them into house tracks. Jacking tracks like hip-house artist Peven Everett's dance-friendly hit "Stuck" are soulful, housed-up lyrics and rhythms over a relatively straightforward Jack beat. Much growth of the current underground American Jack beat scene has occurred in the Acid and Deep house / Soulful house veins, where jack rhythms are often fused with the deeper, polyrhythmic melodies from Afro-Cuban Jazz and WorldBeat genres. Many of these jacking-influenced tracks and jack hybrid rhythms are often listed under Soulful House, Deep House, or in cases where disco or even neo-soul melodies are used, Rare Grooves.
American, European and other worldwide mainstream audiences have the most contact with jack music and dance forms in contemporary prime time productions of the myriad dance shows like America's Best Dance Crew. Other more highly stylized forms of the dance have found their way into house and break sessions of all kinds all over the world, with many performing dance performing art magnets incorporating both jack music into more traditional styles of modern dance.