House music has a rich history in Dallas. In the late 1980s, the genre found a home in the city’s club scene.
Over the years, the music could be heard at Club One, Lizard Lounge, Zubar and on “Jackin The Box,” a radio show hosted by Jeff Steel. Tony Fair and Greg Watton incorporated house, specifically acid house, into their DJ sets at venues across Dallas. The collective of musicians and clubs grew Dallas into an international hotspot for house music. Today, you can find DJ Red Eye playing around town, particularly at It’ll Do.
DJ Jake Gatewood wants to continue to preserve the city’s relationship with house music. The second edition of Take A Break, a monthly party dedicated to the genre, will take over Deep Ellum Art Co. next month.
The idea for Take A Break came during the pandemic. While under lockdown, he toyed with the idea of producing his own show. As restrictions lifted and vaccines were made available, Gatewood moved the project off YouTube and into the club.
Music has always been present in Gatewood’s life. His grandmother, a famous country artist, helped develop his affection for music. However, his love for DJing started with the video game DJ Hero.
The game ignited his desire to acquire a real DJ controller, says Gatewood. “I saved up enough money to buy my first board and since then, I have been rolling with it.”
At the age of 16, Gatewood started his professional music career as a live DJ for rappers, working with artists like 21 Savage, Playboy Carti, and Juice WRLD. However, Gatewood soon wanted a new challenge.
He described rap DJing as “repetitive.” Each set would consist of him shouting “1,2,3” followed by a beat drop, prompting attendees to jump and mosh. After touring across 30 states, DJ’ing rap shows became unfulfilling.
“Showing up in front of over 1,000 people and making them mosh was not the hardest task,” he says. “Showing up in front of over 1,000 people and making them dance is the true challenge.”
Gatewood began to attend house music shows. At each show, he would feel a particular type of “high,” he says. During the DJ set, he would watch as the artist transitioned from track to track. “I was infatuated with the process of DJ’ing house music,” he says.
In December 2020, Gatewood began posting Take A Break on YouTube. The video series featured him DJ’ing in an unusual place somewhere in the state. The first episode featured him in the kitchen of a new restaurant in Austin; the second was at an open house in Houston. He plans to revisit the series in the future, hopefully with the assistance of a budget and production help from a channel like Adult Swim or VICE. But the YouTube series helped establish the in-person party.
After countless emails and in-person requests to owners of various venues, Deep Ellum Art Co. gave Take A Break a home.
John LaRue, owner of Deep Ellum Art Co., was so enamored with Gatewood and the evening that he booked a second Take A Break Fest on September 17.
The first edition was held on July 9, featuring DJ/producer DLMT, musician LAKIM, and DJ BOYBLK. DLMT’s hard-hitting bass lines meshed with beaming vocals, LAKIM’s ever-shifting sounds, and BOY BLK’s gospel-inspired set.
The party takes inspiration from 1970’s disco clubs and the iconic It’ll Do Club in Old East Dallas. The let-loose environment is the ideal environment for people that want to feel the music. “There were a lot of good vibes in the air that created a space for free spirited expression,” says attendee Tylo May. “The circles were full of co-creative energy. I danced my ass off.”
Gatewood has bigger plans for Take A Break. He wants to bring a new festival to Texas; he’s still ironing out the details. In the meantime, Gatewood and his team will focus on curated experiences in Dallas-Fort Worth, but plans to take the party on the road in El Paso, Houston, San Antonio, and more cities around Texas.
Gatewood is excited about the possibilities. While Dallas has experienced a house music renaissance in the past two years, there is still work to be done.
Connor Hatfield, an artist known as DJ Con The Baptist, said he thinks Dallas needs more shows like Take A Break to give house DJs more opportunities around town.
“Beautifully curated shows showcase a wide variety of sounds and bring light to artists from Dallas and across the world,” he says. “I think this show sets an example for what we need more in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.”
Only time will tell if Take A Break will be able to expand to cities throughout the state or produce a new type of music in Texas, but Gatewood has created a party the Dallas house music scene can be proud of.
“I believe that we will be able to push house music forward in Dallas by bringing it to larger stages. House music deserves it.” Gatewood says.