Longtime resident DJs of Nowhere Bar in the East Village–and the guys behind that bar’s popular monthly deep-tracks-meets-pop-art Double Headed Disco–Jeff Jackson [above pic, left] & Disco Connie [right] will be spinning the 15th Anniversary of Nowhere this weekend! Thotyssey gets on the beat with this popular pair.
Thotyssey: Jeff and Connie, hello! Thanks for talking to us today! How was your Halloween… where did you go, and as what?
Jeff Jackson: Hi Thotyssey! We celebrated Halloween early this year at our regularly scheduled Double Headed Disco party this past Saturday… we had a blast. We had a post-punk/new wave theme; Adam Ant was our cover star.
Disco Connie: For costumes, we wore matching Arthur Rimbaud masks, inspired by David Wojnarowicz, one of our favorite artists who had a huge retrospective at the Whitney and other galleries this summer.
What is the best Halloween-themed deep track that all bars and clubs should have been playing last night?
Tell us your life stories! Where are you from, what music were you into growing up, and how did you become DJs?
JJ: Music was all around me as a kid, but my first love was disco… especially Donna Summer and Chic. And I’ve been collecting records ever since I was young. So my desire to share my records with other people is how I evolved into DJing–first at house parties, and later on at bars and clubs.
DC: I grew up in Jersey listening to disco, new wave, and house on the radio, back when the DJs would hear new underground records at a club and play them on the air the next day. I spent lots of nights in clubs as I got older, but only started playing music in public at Nowhere.
And what’s your music of choice, when you are spinning or even when you’re just at home listening?
JJ: I am genre-agnostic, so my DJ sets vary from soul and R&B, disco or house, to new wave, rock or hip hop. As a voracious listener, I’m always digging for new records, new sounds… and I love mixing well-known popular artists with underground stuff that people may not know so well.
DC: Obviously disco, surprise surprise! But I also really enjoy the nights when we play house and new wave. At home, I listen to all kinds of things. I can listen to one song over and over again for a whole day or throughout the week, but other times I have a short attention span. Shuffle is my friend.
Isn’t it bizarre and frustrating that so many kids wanna go out to the bars and clubs and only hear the same 20 songs from their own Spotify?
JJ: We get a lot of die-hard disco fans at our party, so we end up getting good requests. Like “can you play Diana Ross?” And of course, we do!
DC: We joke about how many times over the years we’ve been out at a bar/club and gone up to the DJ to make a request (that would be zero), but people of all ages do it now. Sometimes it’s clear they don’t even have a specific song in mind. They just want to make a request.
How did you two come to Nowhere?
JJ: Since the bar opened, basically. I approached one of their DJ’s, Pete Money, and he said “oh, you wanna DJ with me?” Pete and I DJ’ed together for years, and then I got Connie involved!
DC: I lived across the street when the bar opened, so it was very Cheers for me. I would drop in on the different parties during the week, and got to know a bunch of great people here.
Tell us about your popular monthly (last Saturdays} party Double Headed Disco at Nowhere. How did you two come together to start this, and what keeps the kids coming back?
JJ: It actually started as Connie’s birthday party. I asked Pete if he would do an all-disco set with me, and that was the first disco party. It wasn’t called Double Headed until the next month when one of our buddies, BJ the Pornologist, named us!
DC: We like to put a bit of effort into the party, so we think about musical and visual themes all the time and bounce ideas off of each other. We decorate the bar and transform it into something special for the night. We have some regular annual parties, like our big Grace Jones party on Thanksgiving weekend (my favorite) but each month is something different.
JJ: Oh, I’m glad you like the flyers! Numbers is on first and third Saturdays. Every week I pick a cover star, and theme my set around that artist. I’ll play tracks by the featured artist, and mix in other songs that are from the same era, genre or are inspired by the cover star. I also show offbeat vintage movies, which people really gravitate to. The night is named after the first gay bar I ever went to in Baltimore, where boys with feathered hair would slow dance to Wham! Ha!
And Jeff, you were a presence at the recent benefit show DRAGS, the second of such show in as many years in tandem with Gregory Kramer’s photo book of the same name. What was your impression of that night? And… I heard there might be a book sequel in the works!
JJ: Yeah, Greg is my husband, so I am biased. But the DRAGS event is amazing! This was the second year, and the event raised over $30k for the Ali Forney Center. Connie is actually part of the crew too, wrangling talent backstage while I help in the sound booth. I wasn’t the DJ… this year it was
Hannah Lou, and she was a real kiki. And planning has started for next year’s event already. Also, Greg has been working on a new project for some time now, but I can’t talk about it just yet.
Nowhere is about to turn 15! The bar is known for it’s music and DJ-driven nights, which make it stand out in the sea of gay bars in the city. How have you enjoyed the ride so far?
JJ: We both love Nowhere. It’s like a second family to us.
DC: 15 years is a long time. We feel lucky to be part of it all. We’ve met so many great people over the years.
JJ: It’s going to be a blast. We’re spinning disco and house, and Princess Bitch is giving shows! She turned everyone out at DRAGS and at my Purple Party back in April.
DC: The anniversary party is also a benefit for the New York Transgender Advocacy Group. We have a suggested $5 donation at the door. We felt strongly about raising visibility and showing support for our transgender friends and family, especially considering how central they’ve been to our experience at Nowhere.
Anything else you wanna plug or mention?
DC: I’m also a hand model, lol!
Werk! Finally: how important is it that everyone votes in November?
JJ: It shocks me that people don’t vote! But we need to make sure people are not only voting, but voting for candidates that support LGBTQ equality. And if you’re not sure who those candidates are, do a little research this weekend. Ask your friends. It’s so easy, and so important.
DC: It feels like every day is a new horror. We can’t just sit around and hope things change on their own. There are so many ways to get involved even during these critical last few days. Check out Swing Left or The Creative Resistance. I love the saying that goes something like, “we can’t all do everything but we can each do something.”
DJs Jeff Jackson & Disco Connie spin “Double Headed Disco” monthly last Saturdays (10pm) at Nowhere Bar. Also at Nowhere, Jeff spins “Numbers” every first and third Saturday (10pm). Check Thotyssey’s calendar for Jeff and Connie’s upcoming gigs, and follow “Double Headed Disco” on Facebook and Instagram.