(WARNING: NSFW PHOTO BELOW PAGE BREAK)
Fourth in a series of bar reviews....
Location: Hells Kitchen, 301 W.39th @ 8th Ave
Specialties: Latinos/Latinas, Drag Queens
Door Charge: Varies. $15-$20 Saturdays
Bar Prices: High (Budweiser: $7!!)
Clientele Ethnicity: Almost entirely Hispanic
Average Age: early 20's - mid 30's
REVIEW: It felt a little weird to finally visit Escuelita, considering that for a year and a half I lived less than a block away but never went. The club is located one block south of the gigantic Port Authority bus terminal, in the basement of a some sort of warehouse. Aaron, Farmboy T and I arrived just after midnight to find a half block-long line of young Latins, about evenly mixed between men and women. As it turned out, we'd just missed the reduced/free admission policy for those arriving early.
For a club in a basement, Escuelita is huge. Sprawling, even. I'd guess that it's about the size of the main floor of Splash (to use an example most are familiar with) , maybe a little bigger. There's a large dance floor on the north side of the room, with bars along two of the walls and the restroom/coat check area along the third. Almost immediately, I slammed into an unlit knee-high concrete platform, spaz that I am. My knee is still swollen.
When we arrived, the DJ was playing salsa and meringue while the scattered dancers did some touch-dancing, which was sweet to see for a change. As the dancefloor filled up, eventually the music sequed into more house-y fare, but kept its Latin beat. We were particularly amused by the trio of gorgeous girls standing near us who kept breaking into "Ay-yi-yi-yi-yi!" ululations. And speaking of girls, this club has plenty of them. There was a fairly even mix of butches and femmes. A lot of them dress in the classic NYC-thug style: cornrows, oversized-sports jerseys, rope chains. I was very careful not to bump any of them.
Escuelita's fame is probably more for its outrageous drag shows than anything else, so we were disappointed not to see any while we were there, probably because midnight on Saturday night is not the best time to clear the dancefloor for a show. We did see Flotilla DeBarge walking around.
About 12:30am, several go-go boys (and a girl!) climbed up onto various platforms, including the one I'd cracked my knee open on earlier. And wow. Perhaps we'd been primed by the dancers we'd seen earlier at O.W. Bar, but we really liked the ones at Escuelita. Farmboy T was fascinated with the dancer pictured in this fuzzy shot (sorry!), mostly because he'd never seen anybody wearing a banana hammock. After I explained to Farmboy T that no, the guy had not painted his enormous cock bright red, that it was a garment, Farmboy T had to move very very close to confirm. I took a short video of the guy flopping his cock around in the thing. The orientation is screwed up, but if you don't mind turning your head sideways for 20 seconds, click here. (Warning: NSFW/Sound!)
I tipped all the dancers, something I'd never done and which made me feel oddly nervous. I was hanging back, watching the lone girl dancer,amazed with her sinewy body, wanting to tip her, afraid I might be breaking some kind of protocol - but also afraid of the reaction of her rough looking all-dyke fan club gathered around her platform. I approached the platform with trepidation, a single in my hand. The dancer sensed my nervousness and smiled and leaned towards me. I said, "Is it OK for boys to tip the girl dancers here?" She rubbed up against me and purred, "Oh, jessssssss papi. Of course choo cahn."
We were all rather pleased with our virgin Escuelita experience, despite feeling very aware that we were the only three white guys in the place. Not to imply that anybody bothered us, but also: nobody bothered us. Maybe next time.
Change of returning to Escuelita: Good.