Brooklyn’s Burning Man: House of Yes

“We always like to infuse our funkiness into the show,” says Justin Ahiyon, general manager
for Brooklyn’s House of Yes, a self-described “performance- fueled nightclub” that has been creating a growing buzz around its over-the-top entertainment offerings, which include dance parties, burlesque shows, aerial acrobatics and more—plus some live music that gets integrated into the mix to round out the immersive experience.

“When bands come to play, I try to convince them to let us co-create with them and make it
a special experience, as opposed to just playing a venue where there’s an opener and a headliner,” Ahiyon says after noting that fellow Brooklynites Turkuaz shot a music video at the nightclub in 2017. “We went full-on House of Yes—people in costumes, choreographed dances with glitter, and balloon drops and confetti cannons.”

House of Yes, now in its third location, started in 2007 when founders Anya Sapozhnikova
and Kae Burke transformed a second-floor loft into a thriving creative hub. Less than a year later, a fire forced them to seek a new location in East Williamsburg, where House of Yes flourished for five years before rising rents led to a second move. That’s when Ahiyon and his cousin, Ilan Telmont, conspired with Sapozhnikova and Burke, whom they’d met through the Brooklyn art and performance scene, to bring House of Yes back to life in Bushwick, where it currently resides.

“I had been going to Burning Man for 10 years already with [Ilan], and we got really inspired there, learning about dressing in costumes and dancing—and the freedom,” Ahiyon says. “And every year, we’d come back to New York and there was really be no place to go to keep that energy alive.”

Ahiyon was no stranger to House of Yes, though—he played both of House of Yes’ previous locations, including with Consider the Source, the instrumental fusion trio he co- founded in 2004 and played with until 2012 when he decided to give up the touring life to work in hospitality. Ahiyon still maintains a strong relationship with the group, who will be playing their album-release party at House of Yes this month. He also plans to get back into performing now that the current House of Yes location has momentum, and he will sometimes play drums alongside the various DJs that pass through the club.

But the real goal for the future is taking the dance party on the road, an endeavor that got off to
a promising start at Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival this past June, where House of Yes brought a Brooklyn nightclub vibe to The Farm.

“We basically airdropped the House of Yes into the festival,” Ahiyon says proudly, adding that he and his partners plan to hit more festivals and more cities in the coming years. “We wanted to bring everything we do—the full-on nightclub experience. The whole idea about our dance party is that you’re in a theater, but without seats. You come in and you’re in a club, but there’s theater going on all around you—above your head, in front of you, behind you, on the side.

“It was a smashing success, and the response was incredible,” Ahiyon says. “We’re already signed up to go back next year—even bigger.”

This article originally appears in the September 2018 issue of Relix. For more features, interviews, album reviews and more, subscribe here.

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