Eli Escobar

A fixture on the nightlife scene, Eli Escobar is no stranger to the GrandLife family. A highly in demand DJ and producer for over 10 years, he is also co-founder of the notoriously fun dance party Tiki Disco. Eli is a lifelong New Yorker and knows the city like the back of his hand, yet his excitement and curiosity for the constantly changing pulse of NYC never seems to stop. On a Sunday off you can find him in the West Village, coffee and bagel in hand.  

Where did you grow up? Uptown in Manhattan. The end of the Upper West Side which a the time was a great, diverse mishmash of people. 

Where do you currently live in NYC? In the West Village which right now is absolutely not a great, diverse mishmash of people haha.

What would the title of your autobiography be? Trapped in Manhattan.

What can’t you travel without? An iPod that has every Madonna, George Michael, Janet Jackson and Prince album from the 80’s and early 90’s on it. I have just never gotten over my obsession with the pop music of my youth and I need to be able to access it at all times!

What’s your favorite travel destination? Probably Tokyo and I know this sounds shallow but it would be for the shopping. The record stores and secondhand clothing stores are paradise!

What’s your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon in NYC? Eat bagels and drink coffee and go for walks with my family and the dogs.

What or who has inspired you recently? Bitter End Records – Take It All Away has been my latest obsession. It has all the drama and passion a lot of current house music is missing. 

Who would be your dream NYC tour guide? Well growing up in Manhattan is really fast paced and sometimes over stimulating. My friend once told me he thought Manhattan kids are exposed to too much, too early. He might be right. And actually, I’ve always been really fascinated by how all of the most amazing music of the 80’s come from guys in suburban Queens. Run DMC, LL Cool J, Tribe Called Quest, etc. Maybe if I had grown up out there I would have been a creative genius as well! 

What album or song would you consider your personal soundtrack to New York? Two come to mind…Odyssey “Native New Yorker” and Lou Reed’s “Dirty Blvd.” I actually brought the lyrics of that Lou Reed song into my English class freshman year of High School as an example of poetry and all the kids laughed at me. I was mortified! But the teacher was really nice and kept me after class and told me I was spot on. I WIN!

What are your favorite NYC restaurants? My new favorite is Black Flamingo. It’s an amazing vegetarian/vegan place in Williamsburg, with Mexican inspired food. And I think my favorite is the Sgt. Pepper taco but everything is amazing and the plates are small so you can order a lot.

Do you have a favorite artist? My favorite will always be Hopper. The last great show I saw was of his sketches and drawings at the old Whitney. Which was my favorite museum as a kid. Haven’t been to the new one yet.

What are some of your favorite late-night hangouts in NYC? I like St. Jerome’s in the LES ‘cause it feels like one of the last old New York places. There’s usually a cool mix of wierdos in there.

What are some of your under the radar must-do recommendations for NYC visitors? I would just say, walk around a lot. Don’t stay below 42nd street all the time also. Go eat Cuban-Chinese food on the Upper West Side. Go to Zabars. Go to the weird stamp store on 11th in the East Village. Definitely get coffee at Porto Rico. Just really neighborhood-y type stuff.

What are some of your favorite NYC stores? A1 records is about all I can think of now that I’ve lost interest in spending money on clothes or whatever. It’s the best second hand record store in NY and maybe in the world.

What music are you listening to these days, and who are some of your favorite musicians? I’m still pretty devoted to PJ Harvey. I don’t think anyone has come close to her in 20 years now.  Same goes for Me’Shell Ndegeocello. There are also lots of cool underground producers in NYC making exciting music. One EP I’d recommend is by this guy Bobby Browser. (Listen here)

When you think of NYC, are there any particular emotions or memories that immediately come to mind? I have a lot of nostalgia related feelings of love for this city. Sometimes it’s hard to know if it’s still how I feel or if I’m just holding on to something that can’t possibly come back. But every once in awhile I’ll still have a moment that I know could only happen here and it makes me feel grateful.