Jacking, Jackin’, or the jack is a freestyle dance move in which the dancer ripples their torso back and forth in an undulating motion. It emerged within the context of Chicago house music in the 1980s.

Origins and interpretations

The style is said to have developed in Chicago nightclubs like the Warehouse and the Power Plant, where house pioneer Frankie Knuckles was resident DJ, and Ron Hardy's Music Box, during the early 1980s.

Music journalist Simon Reynolds has argued that just as house music evolved from disco music (among other influences – see House music), jacking evolved from the expressiveness of disco dancing. Even more than disco, house music endorsed an “abandonment of subjectivity and self-will”, promoting the “ecstasy of being enthralled by the beat”. He sees jacking as a reflection of this abandonment of subjectivity:

“In disco, dance had gradually shed its role as courtship ritual and opened up into unpaired freestyle self-expression. Jacking took this to the next stage, replacing pelvic thrust and booty shake with a whole-body frenzy of [[Polymorphous perversity

A similar account on the sexual content of jacking was suggested by Barry Walters in his 1986 article on house music in SPIN magazine:DJ and record producer Chip E. also explains the body movements in jacking with a reference to sexuality:

“Jackin’ house” as a style of music

The terms “jacking”, “jackin’” or “jack” found their way into numerous titles of early house music records, such as the “Jack Trax” EP by Chip E. (1985), “Jack’n the House” (1985) by Farley “Jackmaster” Funk (1985), “Jack Your Body” by Steve “Silk” Hurley (1986) or “Jack to the Sound of the Underground” by Fast Eddie (1988).

The term is also transferred to certain styles of house music called “jackin' house”.