PartyLikeJoe’s founder is a former pre-med student and educator who’s been in the business of producing the city’s most popular circuit parties for years now. As he and his long-time business partners gear up for one of the busiest months of their year though, he’s also about to FINALLY fly solo and premiere something brand new and different that’s sure to slay the children. Thotyssey’s got the deets from Joe Roszak himself!
Thotyssey: Joe, hello! Thanks for chatting with us, I know this is a busy time! So first a Very Important Question: The Royal Wedding! Are your panties wet, or could you not care less?
Joe Roszak: If I wore panties, The Royal Wedding probably wouldn’t even make them slightly damp, let alone wet.
Okay, enough about that crap! What was your Black Party Weekend experience like last month?
The night of the Black Party, my business partners and I produced U-Nite at Stage 48 featuring DJ Paulo. We have found that as iconic as Black Party is, for one reason or another, there’s still a sizeable audience that seek other party options. We provided another option for partygoers on Black Party weekend, that still let out with plenty of time to head over to BP afterwards.
You are one of gay nightlife’s most prolific event producers and promoters, particularly in the circuit realm. And you are working on so many events via your own company PartyLikeJoe and in collaboration with other major producers, including the big bashes for Pride Weekend. Did you ever think back in the day that you’d be one of the guys making stuff happen?
I’m always so shocked when I look back and remember going to the Roxy for my first time, or staring at the shadow show happenings on the bathroom stalls of Splash… just being so enamored by the whole ‘scene,’ and grateful to have had some of the experiences I had in nightlife, I never once thought I would be where I am today: a “prolific” event producer and promoter.
Where are you from? And originally what were you interested in, studying in school, etc.?
I am originally from Woburn, MA which is a suburb of Boston, just 12 miles North. I was pre-med in college with a BS in Biology and Chemistry, and minor in physics. I also have a Master’s in the Science of Teaching and Public Administration. Basically I went to med school after undergrad–and after my first semester went through a bad breakup, freaked out and moved to NYC with $20, my best friend and a janky U-Haul.
I knew I needed to be an active part of the community, so I joined an Americorps program building literacy programs in failing schools. I did that for a year, and the Chancellor and Principal of the school I was working at nudged me into trying out classroom teaching. I became a Science Teacher, and worked in some of the most underserved schools in the city. A few years later I was promoted to Master Teacher, where i traveled to schools and taught teachers better practices, and renovated Science Departments. Soon after, I became a Dean of a public middle school that I founded with my mentor.
Then after my dad passed, I realized life was too short to not explore every option it presents to you, and I changed careers and plunged into nightlife event production.
How exactly did you get involved in the biz?
I pulled into NYC in 2005, so I got to experience Roxy, Limelight, Heaven, etc.–NYC before the days of Grindr and Scruff, where each night of the week was a different destination and “everyone” was there. With my full-time career in education and endless grad school classes, I started finding myself stuck in a depressing cycle of Eat-Work-Class-Sleep. So to remind myself I was still a human being, I used nightlife as my escape from my usual environment of bitchy middle-aged women and nagging children.
I started hosting a table once a week for a number of different parties. I had friends in so many different circles, hosting was perfect because it gave me an opportunity to catch up with friends, be a part of nightlife and give me something to look forward to. I hosted tables for a few year, and started developing a deeper interest in nightlife, and eventually started contemplating whether or not It had a place for me.
What have been some career highlights and memorable moments over the years for you in the business?
When I was highlighted as a Promoter to Watch by Next Magazine, I started to take this pastime more seriously and began to treat it accordingly. Joining [gay nightlife production company] Matinee as a producer and being given the opportunity to work on BIG production events really cemented any questions I had about nightlife being right for me. When I look into a sea of people, exuding amazing energy because of an event I had a hand in producing, it’s the most gratifying feeling… and one of the driving forces that keeps me going when obstacles come my way.
How do you balance nightlife work with dating / relationships / etc?
Nightlife work is exciting and endless at the same time. That being said, it has been a work-in-progress playing the balancing game (one that I usually lose). I am enthralled by the experiences and opportunities nightlife throws my way, but at the same time for any given job / role / gig / party there is always more that can be done. I definitely struggle with allotting myself “me-time” or “dating-time.” Something I will be working on this year!
One challenge now with producing nightlife events in NYC, particularly the big circuit parties that are your known for, is the decreasing numbers of large scale venues. BB Kings, the long-time home of the monthly MEAT party you’ve been co-producing (and a pretty heavily-used space otherwise), just went under.
The lack of venues has been a major problem we’ve been facing recently, but it has just forced us to be more creative and resourceful. The closing of BB Kings was a shock, but luckily we had developed a relationship with Highline Ballroom from past events and the transition couldn’t have gone better.
What else has changed in nightlife over time since you came into the picture, for good or for bad? You mentioned the apps, of course.
Social media has had a major hand in changing the landscape of nightlife since I came around. The hookup apps have really taken the FOMO out of nightlife. Kids don’t feel like they’re missing out if they stay in anymore–they can just go on an app and bypass the initial face-to-face social interaction. This has really made producers put forth more efforts to constantly reinvent the partygoers’ experience to keep their attention and interest.
How do you choose the people you work with?
I love working with people who are passionate and hardworking, and who value the patrons that come out and support. I’m all about energy, so I like to surround myself with positive people. It’s real easy to lose your mind–let alone your manners–in this industry, so I tend to try to work with people who can hold both together.
These days, you collaborate frequently with fellow event producers John Blair, Jake Resnicow and Alan Picus to varying degrees on most of the parties you run / promote. What’s it like working with that crew?
Collaborating with John, Jake and Alan has been such a great experience. Each one of them is super-talented and has a ton of experience, and we can all independently fill a venue / produce a party. I have learned so much from each of my partners, each has their own approach to production and promotion. Working with these guys doesn’t feel like work, because we are all so passionate about nightlife and creating amazing parties for our guests. With this common goal in mind, coupled with decades of experience, there hasn’t been any issue that we haven’t been able to face head on.
I am really excited about FINALLY for a number of reasons. First, this isn’t necessarily going to be a circuit party. I’m casting a wider net, because I think Fridays need a place for people to go whether you’re a bar kid, circuit queen or just your average boy next door. We have two DJs that are super-talented and that can play all genres of music, two levels of venue to play with that holds plenty of space to move around and dance, mingle, or cruise.This party is designed to appeal to anyone looking to find their new home on a Friday night.
This party is called FINALLY for a couple reasons, but the main one is that I used to love my Friday nights and have been looking for the right opportunity [to do a quality Friday party] for a long time now. So “finally” without business partners, the PartyLikeJoe Team gets to take a turn and remind NYC what home is supposed to feel like.
And then on Saturday, Resnicow’s popular monthly-ish circuit party PowerVERS which you and Picus also co-produce, is making the move to Brooklyn’s Schimanski (featuring DJ Cindel).This seems to be a trend, with circuit parties moving to Brooklyn. Is this the last area of the city with real party spaces?
There is a growing trend of parties popping up and / or moving to Brooklyn. Brooklyn has a lot of big venues, and the venue owners are open-minded to gay parties invading their venues. It’s all about creating the best party possible, and sometimes that includes an Uber ride and stepping out of your comfort zone.
Schimanski is a gorgeous venue. This will be our second time bringing PowerVERS there–the first time was a BIG success, back in Sept 2017. We are excited to build up from that first run, and really bring our flavor to Brooklyn!
Okay, let’s list some other stuff that’s coming up courtesy of PartyLikeJoe and friends, starting with:
This will be DJ Aron’s return to MEAT, after taking several months off. He has a great sound and really gets the crowd, so this should be a great event.
This party will launch our PRIDE weekend at Highline with two superstar DJ’s. Both DJs are considered fan favorites, and as talented as they are their sounds couldn’t be more different.
This party will debut one of Matinee’s newest parties in North America, EASY RIDERS. Expect amazing sound, lights, music by top DJ Paulo and freshman superstar Dan Slater, and of course production direct from Spain.
4) Overnight Saturday into Sunday morning, June 22nd-23rd: Action After Hours at Bedlam, with DJs Cindel and Joe Pacheco.
No one loves after hours more than yours truly, especially with Cindel behind the decks. Rising DJ Joe Pacheco just gets better and better with each set he plays; he is definitely going to be one to watch.
This event is the perfect way to wrap up Pride. Our VIP Yacht cruise combines the gorgeous views of the Hudson, music by international superstar DJ Danny Verde, and a front row seat for Pride’s firework display.
Have fun with all these great events! Finally: The second Pride Weekend is over, what will you be doing?
I haven’t decided yet to be honest. but there’s def a solid day of rest before anything else.
Well earned! Thanks, Joe!