When Hank was tending bar at Verve. When everyone met up at 2:00 am in abg’s on a weekend. When a sober kid like me got really happy everyone ditched the alcohol in favor of mineral water. Until someone would explain why. When Halloween happened several times a year. When Angelo would ask questions instead of charge gate. He’d ask “What are the names of the Little Twin Stars?” “What is the name of Jose Rizal’s girlfriend?” “What are the colors of a stoplight?” And there were people who couldn’t give answers. When there was always someone to dance with in the rain. When every party had a “massage corner.” When, at some parties, there was also a special “gulong-gulong” area where kids would sort of just laugh and roll around on the cement floor. Unaware their arms were speckled with dust and little rocks. When Ryan E. shared his mentholated eye drops with everyone. When people brought Vicks Inhaler and Alcogel and lotion to parties. When people liked glowsticks. When Epy would come over and hug you and say “Spread the Love” and then put a nice hole in your cheek the next day during wargames. When the parking outside Laureano compound would snake around for blocks and blocks. When there was actually a place called Club Fun. When Chuck Syjuco and Triccia David entranced us with their voices speaking in entrancing poetic cadence. When Erich and Miko were our den mothers. When the moon held sway. When for once, the unusual had a chance to be models at Warp, Grocery and Havoc fashion shows. When Katrina met Felipe! If this was a survival show, they’d have made it to the end and won a million dollars. When Eddie Boy would out dance us all on the dance floor. And he’s 50 now and still at it. When people would dance more and text less! When after dancing to Juan Atkins, and Pure Science you could still do more dancing at abg’s. before breakfast. When NU107 put up this huge Santa Claus in the Laureano parking lot to commemorate the “Go” premiere. And Christmas was six months away. If they had any snow in the area, I didn’t know about it. When Joey Mead drove her Miyata around. When Lava Lounge opened too and we could go there to watch Quadrophenia on a weeknight. When Christian Fletcher would talk to you at 4:00 am about Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death.” And his blue eyes would look like they had something strange and electrical going on behind them.
When Mariel D would talk about her grade school education and faulty ways true intelligence was measured. When you could wear that chain and lock around your neck, that fuchsia feather boa, those devil horns, those angel wings, knee high boots, bondage pants, spiky jackets and bags, platform shoes, no shoes, underwear on the outside, no underwear on the inside, costumes, it didn’t matter whether you were male or female. You’d feel out of place if you showed up “normal.” When as far as we were concerned, 911 was a show hosted by William Shatner. When Edwin was spinning and Ed was dressed like some sort of S & M mermaid and serving drinks. When you looked out of the window at Verve and you could say hi to your friend sitting in front of Matina or standing outside Insomnia. You could also use the same window to check out your crush, or point some creep out to your friends. When some of us thought the Jamaican Chicken Jerk at Café Caribana was pretty special. When we knew our dates truly loved by the way they kissed us after eating at the Garlic Rose. When Tim Yap was slowly, steadily starting his career (he didn’t just come out of nowhere.) When Brando and Ronald were compared to rock stars. When three goth kids coming from Club Dredd EDSA could go all the way to Blue Café to say goodbye to it before it closed by dancing in 3am monsoon rain and watching someone lipsynch to George Micheal’s “Fast Love.” When you could wear goth clothes and shameless dance to reggae music at a Fete De La Musique street party along Nakpil. And just laugh at yourself. When Aslie could tell someone to shut up, and if you can believe it, her eyes would be more commanding than her voice. When it was still too early to go home if the sun wasn’t coming up yet. When Y was going out with X but not anymore. When we were young and restless. When we were decadent, yet non-judgmental.
When We Danced, Silverlens Gallery, Makati, Philippines, 2005. Text reprinted with the permission of Karen Kunawicz.
Eddie Boy Escudero (b.1955, Pasay City) grew up both in Metro Manila and San Pablo, Laguna. By the time he was five years old, he said he was simply “enthralled” by his Tita Itas’ (Rosita Serumgard) photography magazines. He’d spend countless hours looking at them. He appreciated everything—landscapes, action shots, portraits and especially the “artful” nudes. He became obsessed with photographs and the obsession never went away.
He acquired his first camera in July of 1983 while managing the show band “Something Special” during their three-month stint in Singapore. It was a Minolta XG-1. When he took his first pictures he “did not know anything about aperture, shutter speed or ISO.” He would “put the dial on A then ‘bahala na si Batman.’”
It wasn’t until he joined the Zone V camera club in 1991 that he actually learned to shoot. “I liked the idea of joining contests” he shares, and these contests motivated him to learn to work the camera and improve his craft. “As I was going through the learning process, I was becoming more and more addicted to photography.”
Each time a contest came around, he tried hard to stand out among peers he looked up to: “I wanted my pictures to be different from the rest. I wanted to come up with something unique to ‘wow’ them. These were damn good photographers I was with, and it was such a struggle to get to the top 10.”
He naturally started to shoot the local music scene because “that scene was my life.” His first paying gig was the contract signing of Alamid in 1994 under Warner Music. He shot the album covers of up and coming bands like Color It Red and Rizal Underground. He shot the wedding of the late, legendary Dominic “Papa Dom” Gamboa of Tropical Depression.
He spent many nights at Club Dredd watching and shooting--even just for fun--friends, artists and acts like Joey Ayala and the Bagong Lumad, Tropical Depression, Eraserheads, Binky Lampano, Karl Roy and Put3Ska. He also shot foreign acts like Anggun and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones when they played here, and the legendary B.B. King when he performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival.
By the time1995 rolled around, another new era in Manila nightlife was beginning. Eddie Boy followed the infamous ‘bat signal’ to the second Consortium party at the National Library on Kalaw St. and saw this colorful cornucopia of sights, accompanied by electronic music that made you dance. “It was like discovering Shangri-La!” he quips as he found yet another scene to embrace, enjoy and photograph.
Looking back, he tells me, “I was a wild one. Those were the days.” Those who were there believe him. “I started to dance like hell and I would dance with my camera in one hand and the flash in the other.”
Brands like Lucky Strike and Evian, who he describes as “aggressive” sponsors at the time for these parties, brought in the DJs and hired him to shoot and document the vibrant and colorful rumpus.
At around the same time, Larry Leviste, then style director of Metro magazine acquired Eddie Boy’s unique brand of services, because he didn’t want to get ‘established’ photographers. Leviste says, “I wanted to shoot fashion paparazzi style, very quick and spontaneous, even impolite. The other photogs were too slow, with set-up lighting and makeup taking more than three hours before beginning, then there were polaroids, and adjustments, and I found it all too tedious and pretentious.”
Melvin Mojica echoes, “Before Eddie Boy, you only come out in society pages if you’re rich and pedigreed.” Now, all anyone needed to be was your own unique self. Eddie Boy would “stop the loud characters of after-midnight Manila and capture them for a portrait. He absolutely got a huge rush from chronicling such a diverse, fascinating collection of nocturnal wildlife.”
Writer Jerome Gomez describes Eddie Boy’s photos as “shot straight-forward style but spiked with the exuberance and decadence of the time, its atmosphere of joyous exhilaration and living on the edge.” His images “boast not of the arrogance of access but of comradeship with his subjects. He did not play outsider-looking-in ready for an intrusive snap. He was a party boy himself.” Truly, Eddie did not just shoot the scene, he was IN the scene, a genuine part of it.
Eddie Boy Escudero was in the middle of it all and in the words of Leviste, he “had no ego.”
A collection of Escudero’s photographs from that era (1995-2002), was the focus of his 2005 Silver Lens exhibit, “When We Danced.” “I would never run out of interesting subjects to shoot,” he says and the photographs affirm that.
That scene slowly folded up, he observed in the later 2000s “People stopped dancing. They decided to just sip their drinks, send text messages, and watch the DJ.”
By this time, he was shifting to the wedding photography business. He joined the1999 Bridal Fair at the Shangri-la. All he needed to be a “hit” at the show was “a box of pictures and a few 5 x 7 frames.” Though some would clearly add, it’s his people-loving personality that also plays a big part in getting hired to shoot weddings.
These days, his cellphone is his favorite camera and Instagram and Facebook his chosen platforms. He considers himself “Still addicted to photography. I want to document what I see.”
Puyat, Leah. “Life is Just a Party…and Parties Aren’t Meant to Last.” Preview Magazine, March 2017.
Gomez, Jerome. “The Man Who Shot the 90’s.” Esquire, April 2015.
Kunawicz, Karen. “When We Danced.” Rogue, October 2010.
Interview with Eddie Boy Escudero. Pasig City, January 2019.