House of Yes performers 
Photo: Malena Grosz

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Kae Burke – House of Yes

The House of Yes in Bushwick, Brooklyn, has become recognized as one of the most iconic, immersive and inclusive nightclubs in New York. Their consent program alone has earned well-deserved reputation for its effectiveness. Almost every night of the week, you can find an eclectic mix of performances, queer culture, fantastic costumes and music from across the board. To me, the House of Yes is the first venue I’ve experienced that successfully captures the feeling and the ethos of Burning Man inside of a building. 

The history of House of Yes is a story of perseverance, but also a successful example of an underground arts collective moving into the professional realm. The current venue is their third location, but the first of which that is a public, licensed and legal venue. 

Anya Sapozhnikova and Kae Burke opened the first House of Yes in April of 2007 as a live-work and performance space. They hosted classes, performances and dance parties with a small group of resident artists. In less than one year, the venue burned to the ground from a kitchen fire.  Within two months, they found a new location, twice the size. They had a community of supporters who assembled to help them fundraise and build out the new space. After five years of developing and recreating their multi-use venue space, they were forced to leave the venue due to an unreasonable rent increase. Once again, they had to start over. 

This time, however, they decided to move out of the underground and bring in additional partners, Justin Ahiyon and ilan Telmont to help them create a licensed venue. More fundraising, more building, more community-collaboration led to the opening of the third and current House of Yes. 

I met with Kae Burke at the Edition Hotel in Times Square, owned by former Studio 54 owner, Ian Schrager, and the home of their new dinner theatre performance called “The Devouring: A Marriage of Heaven and Hell,” hosted at the new Paradise Club  four nights a week. Our interview took place on March 8, 2019, just before the first private dress rehearsals.