By Jim Silvestri

An iconic NYC nightlife champion and native, “Tiki Disco” co-founder Eli Escobar reflects on his long and storied career as a club DJ and recording artist while preparing to spin for several exciting events in a rapidly evolving nightlife scene.

Thotyssey: Has summer been treating you well so far, Eli?

Eli Escobar: Getting back to DJing and nightlife…words can’t do justice to how exciting, healing, therapeutic and even moving it was. I always knew I needed this, but I never realized how much I’d fall apart without it!

During lockdown, were you angry with the DJs, promoters, etc. who tried to carry on with parties or did part of you get what they were going through?

Of course I get it. More than anything, I wanted to play music and be around people, etc. But it did feel like a huge slap in the face to those of us who were doing the right thing and sacrificed so much, to see others just go about their business. More than anything, I just feel like blatant disregard for people’s health and safety is somewhat unforgivable. I did get angry a lot; I won’t lie. Right now, I am trying to focus my energy on being a bit more understanding of how complex all of this is and how there can, at times, be grey areas in this discussion. It’s not always black and white.

What are some big changes that have happened in nightlife since you started, from a DJ’s perspective?

There’s a lot! I’ve been DJing a looooong time, haha. Digital DJing, of course, has completely changed everything. Also, ticketed parties…I don’t remember that being a thing. You took your chance at the door wherever it is you wanted to go. I’m not saying anything is better or worse. I think nightlife in New York has been amazing for the past decade or so. I think we will look back at the recent years (minus Covid, of course) as a real moment in nightlife history.

On September 11th, you’ll be spinning a Madonna party called “Into the Groove” at 3 Dollar Bill. OG queer folks will never abandon our Queen M!

Well, I did one at the beginning of the summer and there were a lot of young people there, too. I confess that I haven’t really loved much of her music in a very long time now, but I won’t ever get tired of the glory years. I was obsessed with her as a kid–like, seeing Desperately Seeking Susan opening day when I was 10 years-old, and posters all over my wall. I think her catalogue is sort of untouchable, too. I mean, there’s not too many artists who you can play a whole night of their music and still realize you forgot some songs afterwards!

Thanks, Eli!

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Follow Eli Escobar on IG @eliescobarnyc