House of Yes has never been about structure or limits, which sometimes includes their physical space. Which is not meant as a criticism of House of Yes as a venue. In fact, it’s a testament to the people who are lucky enough to attend events there, it has always been about art above everything else.
Kae Burke and Anya Sapozhnikova are the co-founders and creative co-directors of House of Yes, and it is their vision that House of Yes embodies. “We have a really specific brand that people expect: a little edgy, a little dirty, pretty immersive,” Sapoznikova told The Bridge.
That brand is constantly growing to include more people in their ‘troupe,’ as they add new performers constantly, something Sapoznikova puts a lot of work into. “I make a point to see a lot of work out and about,” she said. “Some people reach out to me, [with a] really strong concept. A performance piece that I haven’t heard of before, but looks amazing on video, I usually go see it before I reach out to work with them, because we are very much our own thing.” In this way, the House of Yes brand is constantly being curated and refreshed.
All of this is not to say that the business side has been neglected. Burke and Sapozhnikova have worked hard to ensure that the venue itself is worthy of the performance art that it contains. The current location of House of Yes is the culmination of that, and this one seems to have more staying power.
“We’ve been open in our current location for over a year which has been the biggest learning experience of our lives,” Burke and Sapozhnikova said about the venue to The Bridge. “We’re products of a collaborative community which means dialogue and criticism are huge parts of how we operate. We are new, we still have a lot to learn and having patrons willing to teach us when we mess up is invaluable.”
We wanted to dig a bit more into what makes House of Yes such a special place to the people that attend shows, perform there, or have ever heard of it. So we spoke with marketing director Jacqui Rabkin on how she sees House of Yes and conveys the vision of the co-founders to the greater New York music scene.
House of Yes certainly doesn’t seem to bill itself as a music venue first. So what are you?
We are a performance arts and entertainment venue, as well as a production company that brings our magic to other venues and pop-up installations around the country.
And where does the music fit into that?
We have music programming three to five nights a week, from Wednesday through Sunday. On weekends we typically have electronic music; on weeknights we occasionally have live acts spanning from pop to indie rock.
Considering your eclectic types of events this might be a hard one to answer, but what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever experienced at House of Yes?
There is no craziest thing! We don’t view our experiences in a hierarchical manner. There is no better or best. We are so inspired by all the experiences we get to share with our guests on any given night.
One surprising type of act you bring to House of Yes is aerialists. How did that get started? Was it logistically difficult to fit that sort of act into your space?
Aerial performances are integral to the entire vibe of House of Yes and are rooted in our history. House of Yes began as a community of performers (mostly aerial) in 2008, and the intention was to create a space for aerial classes, circus performances, and other creative events.
The two co-founders of House of Yes, Anya and Kae, are accomplished aerial performance artists. Our current venue was intentionally designed with aerial performances in mind. The rigging points were carefully designed and elaborate welding was conducted all over the walls and upper ledges to accommodate circus performances.
When somebody visits House of Yes for the first time, what’s the impression you hope they walk away with?
We have created this space as a temple of expression dedicated to connection, creativity, and celebrating life. We believe in the creative energy of every person who enters this space. We believe that performance, dance and art can inspire and heal us. We believe the world can be a better place. We believe that weird is wonderful. We want all visitors to know, “You are beautiful. You belong here. This is your home.”
What upcoming events are you most excited about?
Halloweekend is going to blow your minds. At the venue, we’re doing a Cirque Noir Freakshow on Friday 10/27, House of Hallucinations on Saturday 10/28, as well as a special edition of Gala of the Gone on 10/31.
We are also creating a massive, multi-venue City of Gods on Saturday 10/28 at a secret location (to be announced to ticket-holders) in collaboration with Zero, Mayan Warrior, Disco Knights, Distrikt, Bubbles & Bass, White Ocean, and more. It will feature 10+ rooms to explore in addition to an open warehouse space, 20+ international DJs, 100+ performers and large scale art installation.
Outside of work, what are some of your favorite places to go in New York?
We are always looking to be inspired by other peoples art! If there’s a new exhibit or immersive pop-up installation in town, that’s where you’ll find us.
Go out tonight, and any night. Jukely is a concert subscription that gives members guestlist access to hundreds of music events – for one price. Whenever you want to go out, you’ll always have something to do. Learn more and sign up at jukely.com.