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Beautiful Nonsense: Nightlife Revival at House of Yes

“Ketamine: The Musical” performers end the show dancing in a downpour at House of Yes in Brooklyn, NYC. April 12, 2022. Photo by Annie Iezzi

As spring thaws into summer, Bushwick’s ice-warehouse turned sex-positive circus nightclub is kicking into high gear. After reopening from its COVID-19 closure, the House of Yes on Jefferson Street brought back its hit show “Ketamine: The Musical,” along with its signature themed parties and performances, and is leading the charge back into nightlife.

“It’s our legacy of beautiful nonsense,” said HOY co-founder Kae Burke after the show’s so-called “mess rehearsal” on April 12. “Creating this space for artistic expression has always been so important,” she said, “especially now.”

The House of Yes website describes the show as “an immersive, participatory, psychoactive and dissociative spectacle,” which has been revamped since its 2016 sold-out double-run. It explores the effects of the now-party drug ketamine, including hallucination, difference in time perception, and at times, intrusive thoughts. At “Ketamine: The Musical,” masks were optional, but one rule was clear: no flash photography.

The rule protects all of the aerial performers at HOY: from hair hangers to suspended go-go dancers and even two artists squeezed inside an anatomically correct heart dangling from the ceiling, the club is strict about protecting its performers. This approach extends to the audience, too.

House of Yes maintains a strictly queer-friendly and boundaries oriented environment, even amidst its orchestrated chaos. Out front, partygoers in line were addressed by a staff member in a fuzzy bear costume.

“There is no racism, no transphobia, no homophobia, no unwanted touches or pictures,” they said. “If you need anything, ask a staff member for help,” they continued, in reference to free self-serve water and the harm-reduction drug Naloxone behind the bar,

The performance and the party run late into the night at House of Yes, an inauguration back into the extravagant nightlife that has so long characterized New York City. Before performing, co-founder Anya Sapozhnikova gathered the night’s cast backstage, as is their custom. The eclectic crew held hands, began to jump, and chanted in unison: “Let’s fuck shit up.” 

The performers in “Dirty Circus” at House of Yes celebrate a show-well-done. March 12, 2022. Photo by Annie Iezzi

Allegra Meshuggah dances maniacally around the stage in wielding scissors “Ketamine: The Musical” at House of Yes in Bushwick, Brooklyn. April 12, 2022. Photo by Annie Iezzi

Anya Sapozhnikova, co-founder of House of Yes, and Melissa Aguerre perform an intimate aerial dance in “Ketamine: The Musical.” April 12, 2022. Photo by Annie Iezzi

A performer is carried over the crowd at House of Yes in Bushwick. April 24, 2022. Photo by Annie Iezzi

The showroom at House of Yes before rehearsal for “Ketamine: The Musical.” April 6, 2022. Photo by Annie Iezzi

Co-founder and show-director Anya Sapozhnikova takes a moment of rest backstage at House of Yes. April 13, 2022. Photo by Annie Iezzi

Moss rests on a prop couch at a “Ketamine: The Musical” rehearsal at House of Yes. April 6, 2022. Photo by Annie Iezzi

Bartender Mariah applies her lipstick before the doors open for “Dirty Circus” at House of Yes. March 12, 2022. Photo by Annie Iezzi

Bartenders after midnight in the House of Yes showroom in Bushwick, Brooklyn. April 24, 2022. Photo by Annie Iezzi

A horned partygoer takes a breather at the bar at House of Yes. April 24, 2022. Photo by Annie Iezzi

Samuel Paulish poses after the “Ketamine: The Musical” pre-show circle up at House of Yes. April 12, 2022. Photo by Annie Iezzi

Rion Moon, a House of Yes regular, poses mid-party. April 24, 2022. Photo by Annie Iezzi

Happy New Day celebration at House of Yes in Brooklyn, NYC. April 24, 2022. Photo by Annie Iezzi

Cat the aerialist performs on silks during “Ketamine: The Musical” at House of Yes in NYC. April 12, 2022. Photo by Annie Iezzi