House of Yes (Brooklyn)

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House of Yes is a creative collective and nightlife performance space located in Bushwick, Brooklyn, that fuses dance culture, theatre, music, food, technology and community. Now in its third incarnation, the current space is open to the public during events and shows and focuses on programming that offers audience interaction and innovation in circus entertainment. House of Yes uses a variety of mediums to create nightlife-friendly interactive experiences for its patrons and is known for its glitter station, hot tub, open dancing platforms and activity stations that are based on the theme of the particular party. [1] As a theatre and performance art space, the catalogue of shows range from immersive cinema screenings by Little Cinema, variety shows, House and Disco music dance parties, live music and interdisciplinary media productions. [2] The far-reaching goal is "to create art that’s accessible and meaningful and a really good time too".[3]

House of Yes has been referred to as a "truly one- of-a-kind. From the crowd, to the production, to the theatrics, and even the restrooms."[4] "On any given night at a show here you might see punk bands and marching bands, aerialists and fire- eaters, deep-house DJs and live body-painters, contemporary burlesque acts and strippers, rowdy comedians and bizarre art installations. House of Yes shows are never for the faint-hearted or easily-offended. They are sexy, loud, raucous, bawdy, rude, daring, graceful, beautiful, hilarious, often at the same time. And audience participation–dancing, singing, partying, making out–is both encouraged and expected"[5]: “What makes House of Yes a special place is its ability to pull everyone into the freak mindset. Even the most shy people end up with their shirts off… The atmosphere has the unique ability to bring people out of their shells.”[6]


The project to establish the House of Yes grew out of Kae Burke and Anya Sapozhnikova’s earlier Boring Incorporated and Make Fun ventures.[7] The former was a creative way to bring socially conscious performance art to the streets of New York, while the latter was originally a home-based weekly sewing and crafting event in the basement of Kae Burke’s apartment building in Bedford-Stuyvesant.[8]

In April of 2007 a 2,500 square foot second floor loft located at 19-49 Troutman Street in Ridgewood, Queens became available through a friend of a friend [9] This space can be best described as a hippie-punk squat house, with leaky ceilings, trash in the hallways and curious odors [10] “It’s perfect” said Anya Sapozhnikova and she promptly signed the lease [11]

A project driven by passion, not dollars was born. The goal was to build a true creative/work space that could be used to host an occasional dance party or circus class. The hippie-punk squat house’s walls were torn down, to make room for kitchens and studios, stages were built. Now, what to call this new space? Crystal Palace? Troutwick Bushman? [12] “The name, House of Yes, just kind of happened. To us, it just means a home where anything is possible. It was not only a place where artists could live, but where they could participate in circus nights, parties, sewing, and costume design.” [13] Rooms were rented to artists, performers, dancers and creatives who in turn became a family that collectively held dinner parties, movie screenings, yoga mornings and monthly dance parties. The space was shared with the creative community at large, with weekly events like: Make Fun Sewing Nights on Tuesdays and Circus Skill Share Nights on Wednesdays [14]

On April 22, 2008, the House of Yes was destroyed by fire, caused by a toaster in the kitchen.[15] The collective lost nearly everything in the fire, including hundreds of costumes, DJ equipment and loudspeakers, aerial silks, theater lights, as well as their house cat named Pilgrim. Nobody except Pilgrim was injured in the accident.[16] The collective held fundraisers at venues like the Pussycat Lounge, Galapagos Art Space, Spiegeltent and Southpaw, in addition to accepting donations, supplies and volunteer hours.[17]

J.B. Nicholas, contributing to The Villager under the name Nick Brooks, took top honors for Picture Story in the New York Press Association’s 2008 Better Newspaper Contest.[18] for his photos of the female performance artists and aerialists from the House of Yes posing amid the charred ruins of their building the day after a devastating fire. [19]

Describing the determination to continue on Sapozhnikova told Thump “[w]hen the house burnt down, we are absolutely 100 percent getting a new space as soon as possible. It was very much like, we are the phoenix rising from the ashes and everyone's counting on us to keep the party going.” [20]

In June 2008, the collective had found a new space, and invested thousands of dollars and hours turning an empty, raw warehouse into a suite of offices and performance space. Renovations included the installation of a Broadway-quality, 30-foot-tall, aerial truss, which would be used prominently in the shows in the following months.

On May 4, 2009, Kid Koala presented "Music to Draw to..." at the House of Yes, where there was strictly no dancing, but instead people were invited to draw on their sketchbooks with a free cup of hot chocolate.[21]

In August 2013, increasing property values, coupled with increasing closures of DIY venues across Brooklyn and rent for the Maujer space increasing twofold, led to House of Yes's closure after 5 years [22] From August 14 to August 16, 2013, House of Yes had a final series of events to commemorate its time on Majuer street before closing its doors. The events celebrated everything House of Yes was known for ranging from “costume workshops, as well as a blackout party on August 14 in honor of the 2003 power outage, a burlesque tribute to Meat Loaf on August 15, and one final variety show on August 16 [that] feature[d] some of the superstars of the city’s cabaret scenes . . . and include[d] breakdance troupe Poetrymotion, burlesque performer Veronica Varlow, magician Albert Cadabra, Brenna Bradbury on aerial silks, and Sapozhnikova herself performing with Benjamin Cerf. A dance party until dawn wrap[ed] it all up.” [23]

The most recent incarnation of House of Yes, that re-opened on New Year’s Eve 2015 is located at 2 Wyckoff Avenue, in Bushwick, Brooklyn. “What makes it so beautiful to me is that we concentrate on every single aspect: the costuming, the rehearsals, the movement, the sound, the promotion, everything . . . live theatre is the most all-encompassing, the most mixed-media way to produce art.” [24]

The new location was funded by a Kickstarter campaign to make the “best venue and theater ever . . . where artists can create and present work and audiences can celebrate, socialize and be inspired.” [25] House of Yes renovated the former laundromat and raised the roof to accommodate aerialist acts, added a restaurant and bar and outfitted the entire space with new electrical wiring and plumbing. Additionally, rigging, lighting and more bathrooms were built into the space [26] Bedford and Bowery wrote of the new space, “as much as some things have been brought up to profesh- level to appease the man (and improve the caliber of performances too), House of Yes has maintained its anything-goes appeal.” [27]


Christmas Spectacular

The Christmas Spectacular is curated by Anya and Kae Burke. The cast is made up of “everyone we know who we think is talented and amazing who we want to hang out with for three weeks straight. People can do whatever the fuck they want, and we kind of guide it and arrange it.” [28] Burke says of the Christmas Spectacular"[w]e didn't really know what we were doing, we just did it and it worked. It has continued to be highly collaborative, totally absurd and unapologetically excessive ever since. Every year we add more and more performers and more inventive aerial apparatuses and it just keeps getting weirder and wilder.” [29]

She continued adding, "You end up forming these intense connections when you're up all night figuring out entrances and cues, editing music or rehearsing for hours upon hours as an elf or reindeer or santa or alien or zombie or whatever else we end up throwing at the cast.” [30]

Facilities and Events[edit]

  • Lady Circus: A performing arts troupe in New York City composed of eight ladies who perform solo, in small groups, or in a variety show setting in their entirety. Lady Circus, self-described as "an intoxicating cocktail of riot and glamour," considers themselves to be, "a mix of sideshow, brooklyn grit, and 1920's gilded decadence finished off with a modern edge."
  • The Sky Box: New York City's first and only dedicated aerial theater and performance space, founded and directed by Jordann Baker and Anya Sapozhnikova. Created in response to the growing needs of the expanding aerial community, The Sky Box aims to provide aerialists with a comprehensive array of resources to enable top-notch aerial performance from inception to post-production. The Sky Box hosts classes 6 days a week and a monthly variety show.
  • Make Fun Studio: An on-site costume and prop workshop, as well as a sewing studio.
  • Recording Studio
  • Venue: The Wyckoff Street location houses professional theatre lighting, curtains, adaptable stage, fog machines, rigging, state of the art sound and anything else needed to create the ongoing over the top productions that regularly occur there that include Parties, Benefits, Plays, Musicals, Birthday Parties, Sideshows, variety shows, live music, screenings, and an annual Christmas Spectacular.


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  6. ^ "New York Rising: How Brooklyn became one of the world's best clubbing destinations". Mixmag. Retrieved 2018-03-22.
  7. ^ "Fun House". Retrieved 2009-06-01.
  8. ^ "Maison d'Ordure". Retrieved 2009-06-01.
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  15. ^ "there was a fire @ the House of Yes (a Brooklyn loft/performance space)". Retrieved 2009-06-01.
  16. ^ "Reborn House of Yes feeling positive on their new show". Retrieved 2009-06-01.
  17. ^ "Benefit for House of Yes fire victims". Retrieved 2009-06-01.
  18. ^ "Villager wins 11 awards, ranks with state's best". Retrieved 2009-06-01.
  19. ^ "House of Yes, scene of hot hipster parties, is toast". Retrieved 2009-06-01.
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  21. ^ "Kid Koala Blog". Retrieved 2009-06-01.
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