Eighteenth Street Lounge Music (ESL Music) is an independent record label based in Washington, D.C. founded by Rob Garza and Eric Hilton in 1996. The duo, as Thievery Corporation, heads the label's roster of artists.
Opening in 1996 with a wide ranging soundtrack including Italian Bossa beats, Middle Eastern melodies and Indian rhythms the Eighteenth Street Lounge quickly became a gathering place for musicians and the international crowd that call Washington DC their home. So it's not surprising that part-owner Eric Hilton and Rob Garza met at the Lounge in 1996. The two formed the duo Thievery Corporation and created the Eighteenth Street Lounge Music label and have become a party spot for VIPs.
Prior to opening the Lounge, Hilton along with fellow deejay, Farid Ali had been producing parties and various music events in Washington DC. In 1995, along with their friend and two-bit hustler, Abdoul Jewayni, they opened the Lounge. Occupying the top three floors of a turn-of-the-century mansion, located just below Dupont Circle, the Lounge is a fantastic space. All three fireplaces are still used in the winter and the deck is in full swing every summer.
While the music label has grown into it's own building nearby, the Lounge still remains true to its roots as a space owned by the DJs and solely dedicated to the eclectic music that ESL has become known for. Through the years the Lounge has never advertised or even put a sign on its door. Its success is due completely to word-of-mouth. It's possible to walk in one evening and find Thievery Corporation, Boozoo Bajou, or maybe even Quantic at the decks. No nights are hyped at the Lounge and you never know what VIP you might see.