Photo by Yvette de Wit
Gray Area's Mission to Blur the Lines and Unite Through House Music
House has a long and beautiful history of uniting people from all walks of life on the dancefloor. From its roots in the gay, Black, and Latino communities of Chicago to the common ground it gave British youths during the acid house revolution, it has, for a long time, offered a sanctuary defined by inclusion and acceptance.
Why, then, is it so difficult for anyone falling in love with house music to learn more about it nowadays?
Getting involved with the scene can seem daunting. Those belonging to the house music community seem to speak in code, and they brand you an outsider unless you drop just the right lingo. For a culture that celebrates self-expression and freedom from judgment, it can feel awfully isolating.
Photo by Shelagh Murphy
This is, of course, a survival mechanism. As house grew to encompass a worldwide movement, these barriers to entry became necessary to prevent commercial influences from diluting the authentic, DIY essence of the underground. On the same token, though, they keep well-meaning newcomers on the outside. How can we expect the next generation to protect the culture if we won’t teach them what it means to do so?
We started Gray Area with the simple mission of connecting house heads old and new, no matter their age, nationality, gender, sexuality, ability, or any other identity that might divide people off the dancefloor. What isn’t as straightforward is how we get there. As you’ll read below, our platform consists of numerous interconnected moving parts that all work in tandem with one another—and we’re building each of them with your help.
You just witnessed a DJ set that sent chills down your spine, each song somehow better than the last. You track down the name of the artist and then look them up online, but now you’re met with information overload. How do you know where to start?
There’s an overwhelming number of places online where you can find information on an artist. We here at Gray Area choose to go directly to the source. Each of our artist pages links to articles about its subject as well as recommendations for their upcoming events. Whenever possible, we go a step further by conducting a “Spotlight” interview with them to give you a definitive, concise resource that summarizes their music career and personal background.
Gray Area's Artist page for Todd Terry
With nearly four decades of history, house has its fair share of elder statesmen: artists like Todd Terry, DJ Sneak, David Morales, and Harry Romero. Gray Area is committed not only to honoring these forerunners, but also bringing attention to the next generation of electronic musicians. Shimza, LP Giobbi, Miss Monique, and Mochakk are but a handful of the up-and-coming artists disrupting the dance music industry. We think you should know about them.
When it’s all said and done, moments of transcendental bliss on the dancefloor are what brought us all together in the first place. We want to facilitate as many of these as possible for music lovers like you.
If you click on the “Events” tab of an artist page, (or at the very top of any page) you’ll notice that we here at Gray Area organize many of the gatherings in our searchable directory ourselves. Our team includes promoters with 25 years of experience in the dance music live event space. We especially take great pride in identifying which artists are most actively pushing the culture forward and giving you the opportunity to experience their music for yourself.
Gray Area's Events page.
Gray Area has partnered on events at such clubs as Quantum and Superior Ingredients in Brooklyn, and we’re working on other gatherings at venues across the globe. Our Debut series brings artists to cities in which they have never headlined—or in some cases, played at all. Double Header, meanwhile, is an event concept in which two artists perform one after another and then close out the night with a back-to-back set.
Outside of our own events, Gray Area also recommends gatherings around the world for fans interested in exploring house music by traveling to other countries. For instance, every week of the Ibiza season we curate a list of happenings on the White Isle for our "Ibiza Selects" series.
Gray Area Academy
Those of us who work in dance music stay abreast of industry happenings before they’re news by talking shop with one another in passing. We want to give you a window into our world.
As we touched on above, we believe that any house music fan who cares enough about the culture to study it should be given the means to do so. What better resource is there than stories about artists who have influenced the history of dance culture or are actively shaping its future?
Gray Area's Articles page for Archie Hamilton
Gray Area Academy articles can be found on the “Articles” tab of many artists’ pages. Topics include master music curator Jaguar’s list of artists to watch and Archie Hamilton’s argument for staying true to your roots. Sometimes Academy pieces shed light on a lesser-known facet of one of these artists. For example, did you know Partiboi69’s sister is also a DJ, or that an obscure, Bulgarian sample on a Snoop Dogg record inspired Shermanology’s “Bon Bini”?
Gray Area also publishes articles similar to those of a more straightforward media organization in our “Magazine” section. Even with these pieces, we provide our readers with as much context as possible for the topics covered so that even the most informed house heads can learn something new.
Gray Area's Magazine section
Have you ever wanted to read a deep dive on Detroit ghettotech, or to learn about the origins of Afro house? Have you heard about parties in Costa Rica, but didn’t realize that it was growing into a big enough nightlife mecca to draw comparisons to Tulum? You have a wealth of reading material to choose from in our Magazine section.
Streaming and Radio
If you would prefer to listen to our artist Spotlights in streamable podcast form, head over to our Spotify page. Here you'll find audio recordings of all of the interviews we've conducted with artists as part of the series.
Gray Area Spotlight's Spotify page
Gray Area is also on SiriusXM radio! Our monthly "Ocho" radio show airs on the channel Diplo's Revolution, and each installment consists of eight exclusive, 60-minute mixes by top global house music talent. John Summit, CID, and Paco Osuna are but a few of the artists we've featured thus far.
Inner-Circle Golden Ticket
They're called clubs for a reason: It’s a lot more fun when you’re on the inside.
We have something special for you house heads who would like more direct access to everything Gray Area has to offer. Our Inner-Circle Golden Ticket serves as proof of digital membership, and it unlocks exclusive perks for its holder as part of a long-term roadmap that we plan to roll out in the coming months.
The Golden Ticket is a blockchain-validated non-fungible token (NFT). Unlike the NFTs associated with widely publicized cash grabs you might have read about, we do not intend for ours to be bought and sold by speculators. This emerging technological format is simply the best way for us to offer new IRL and URL experiences to music lovers without having to surrender any data to traditional ticketing platforms.
The Most Important Part is You
Gray Area is a community, not a publication. As active participants in dance culture, we do not pretend to be an objective media outlet looking in from the outside. This also means that we want you to help weigh in on the evolving voice of our platform.
Talk to us. Gray Area is a conversation, not a one-way narrative. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, SoundCloud, YouTube, or Twitch, and share any thoughts you might have about what we’re building. If you’re new to house music, think of these channels as a safe space to ask any questions. If you’re a longtime participant in the scene, we encourage you to share your knowledge and impart our scene’s strong values to the next generation.
Photo by Jacob Morch
Gray Area represents no single sound, group of people, or ideology. No barriers stand between bodies on our dancefloors, nor do gatekeeper narratives skew the stories we tell. This cross-section is where art and technology overlap to push the culture forward, authentic and uninhibited. It strengthens the bonds that unite the global house music community as we work towards the inclusive vision at its foundation.
We hope you’ll join us as we explore what it means to exist in the Gray Area. We’ve only just embarked on our journey to provide a definitive resource on dance culture, and we think it’ll be a lot more fun if we do it together. We’ll see you on the dancefloor.
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