The Best Clubs in New York, Chosen By Eli Escobar
The Best Clubs in New York, Chosen By Eli EscobarEli Escobar
The legendary NYC DJ selects his favourite clubs in the city.
Few club scenes around the world have a storied history quite like New York's. Known as the city that never sleeps, New York's thriving nightlife scene is iconic; its fast-moving pulse and vibrancy is part of the very fabric of the club and fashion capital. Its underground scene has become known for its subcultures, communities, style and subversion. After all, it's here that the infamous Club Kids rose to prominence, and where Grace Jones shimmered in sequins on the dancefloor of Studio 54.
Eli Escobar is one of the most prominent DJs of the New York club scene. Having grown up in Harlem in the 80s and cut his teeth in the NY's underground scene in the 90s, Escobar is a tastemaker who's tapped into the pulse of the city. His talent, experience and diverse musical range has seen him light up dancefloors across New York for over two decades. Aside from DJing, he's also emerged as an in-demand remixer, sought after by the likes of Britney Spears and Lana Del Rey.
To this day, the New York nightlife scene continues to innovate with new labels, artists and clubs adding to its underground culture. For such a fast-paced city, where should one go for the best parties? We asked Escobar, who lists out the spots you've got to try – from new spaces to the most frequented clubs for music fans.
In this Guide
“Knockdown Center is this old factory with lots of different nooks and crannies to explore; this huge, amazing place over a pile of abandoned building and piles of rubble. They made it beautiful. There's a club in the basement; it's like a dungeon, you can go down there and there'll be techno but on summer evenings they have the outside going and you can get 2,000 people out there. There's always good stuff every weekend. It has a magical vibe to it because you feel like you're in the middle of nowhere. Knockdown Center would be my favourite place for outdoor stuff. I do a party there on Sundays during the summer called Tiki Disco so I'm a bit biased because our party's really special, but it's not only because of that. I like the place in general.”More Info
“Good Room has been around for a while now. The thought that has gone into that place has been really tremendous. The sound is immaculate and they're constantly improving on the sound system. There's two rooms: one room called the Bad Room and then there's the main room. The bathroom is this dark, smoky, tight, little space that goes crazy. You feel like you can't see anything when you're in there; it's flashing lights and smoke, and they'll have DJs in there. In the main room, there's always DJs. It's a beautiful old club that used to be a Polish queer club. It's got this 80s look to it: beautiful wooden floors and these steel ceilings. The music is consistently excellent. The guy who does the programming, Josh [Houtkin], he's got great taste. There's always spectacular stuff going on, and it’s become, over the years, one of our most beloved spaces.”More Info
“My favourite new club in Bushwick. You go into Paragon and you feel like you are stepping into an alternative seedy underground section of our culture. It's very diverse and the music is really cutting edge; there's a lot of exciting new talent being booked. It's more the edgy side of things in the basement, and the basement is wild. The turntables are on a pool table. When I was DJing there, people were surrounding me, screaming. The ceilings are low, and it's really smoky and crazy. Then, on the top floor, they've got this old-school-style DJ booth all the way up on top looking down on this beautiful second floor balcony that reminds me of The Limelight from the 90s. They tend to put more straightforward techno up there. Downstairs will be more newer stuff that's emerging from the underground. The person who owns it has a very beloved long-running club in New York called Bossa Nova Civic Club and it feels like the sister club to that place. It's very close by and has a lot of the same crowd.”More Info
“ House of Yes keeps giving me the most creative freedom out of any place I've worked at. They let me play all night, which is becoming more common for me these days. There's a lot of spectacle; aerialists, dancers, all sorts of different shows. You'll be dancing and then all of a sudden, in the middle of the dancefloor, there’ll be a show with two dancers that work for the club. For a long time, it's been the epicentre of creative expression and creative freedom. A real safe space for people to be at. They're consistent and maybe even better than ever now. I've had a monthly night where I can play for six, seven hours and I really love doing that.”More Info
“If you're looking for a simple, dark basement type of vibe, a good one is Black Flamingo in Williamsburg. It's a beautiful, simple basement; all wood, kind of looks like a sauna. Minimal lighting and really nice sound. There's always good house and disco being played there. It's in the basement of a restaurant. You wouldn't even necessarily know it's there if you were in the restaurant, but at 10pm they open up this little door and then you go down the stairways and it gets dark and smoky. I think you can't even get 100 people in there, so it's very intimate and chill.”More Info
“I don't think it's been open for two full months yet. SILO is like this brown tin can in this area that used to be old factories. I played there recently all night and what was interesting to me was that the DJ booth was just smack dab in the middle of the dancefloor. I would hesitate to call it a booth. There's the CDJs and the mixer, and you step up on this – not even one foot up – little board and you're DJing in the middle of the dancefloor surrounded by people. At first I was like, this feels claustrophobic. And then I really enjoyed it actually, it was fun. It felt like I was in the party. It was easy to feed off of the crowd’s energy, and there's no other place like that in New York. It feels intimate because you're surrounded by people but then you can't see how many more people are all around. I think they can get 500 or 600 people in there, and the bookings have been stellar also. New York's crazy good right now.”More Info
“Nowadays is special for a lot of reasons. It's beautiful looking, it feels really neat. We've got this outdoor area that's beautifully lit. It provides a nice area to go take a breather, it's not that wild outside and then inside the sound system is beautiful. They've done an amazing job of creating their own little scene, booking lots of unsung, up-and-coming talent and creating a place for those people to be able to play, and then getting them more opportunities to play at other places. It feels like they've got a unique approach to running a club. They stay open from Saturday to late Sunday night or early Monday morning, so you can always go there. A lot of times on Saturdays, at 5am, when I'm finishing people will be like, 'Where can we go now?' You can always go to Nowadays because they're just going and going.”More Info