Alternative dance (also known as underground dance in the US) is a musical genre that mixes the "melodic song structure of alternative and indie rock with the electronic beats, synths and/or samples, and club orientation of post-disco dance music". The Sacramento Bee calls it "postmodern–Eurosynth–technopop–new wave in a blender". The genre draws heavily on club culture for inspiration, while also incorporating other styles of music such as synth pop, acid house, and trip-hop. Alternative dance artists identify more closely with their music through a distinctive style, texture, or fusion of specific musical elements. They are usually signed with small labels.
Most alternative dance artists are British, "owing to the greater prominence of the UK's club and rave scenes in underground musical culture". AllMusic cites New Order as the first group in the genre due to their 1982–1983 recordings, which fused post-punk with synth pop in the style of the German collective Kraftwerk. Alternative dance had a huge impact on the British Madchester scene of the late 1980s and the trip-hop and rave scenes of the 1990s. The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers are two prominent examples of the British scene of the 1990s, while in the US, Chicago's Liquid Soul to San Francisco's Dubtribe expanded dance music "beyond its old identity as a singles-driven genre with no identifiable, long-term artists". The American scene rarely received radio airplay and most of the ground-breaking work continued underground or was imported. The Prodigy's third studio album The Fat of the Land was the first international alternative dance hit to debut on number one in 25 countries, including the US.
- Kot, Greg (25 July 1996). "Picking Up The Beat Underground Dance Music Steps Into The Spotlight With Chicago Summit". Chicago Tribune. p. 1 of the Tempo section.
- "Alternative Dance". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2006-04-22. Retrieved 2023-01-08.
- "Hot To Trot: A Guide Attitude Included To Sacramento's Alternative Dance Scene". The Sacramento Bee. 12 October 1990. p. TK14.
- Harrington, Richard (24 August 1997). "A Spark in Electronica? The Alternative Dance Genre Isn't Saving the Music Industry—Yet". The Washington Post. p. G5.