Brooklyn’s House of Yes has become a safe space for marginalized people, particularly the LGBTQ community, to express themselves wholeheartedly and free of discrimination. It’s a legendary fixture in New York, embodying what most outcasts of society come searching for in one of the world’s most diverse cities.
Better put, it’s “this subversive, awesome, artistic space for crazy freaks who just come and live their fantasies,” Thorgy Thor, a drag artist at House of Yes, said in episode two of Season 3 of Red Bull Music’s Inspire the Night documentary series that profiles celebrated nightlife curators.
In the 17-minute episode, created in partnership with agency Yours Truly, viewers meet several of the artists and collaborators who make up the House of Yes community, with the focus of the film being on founders Kae Burke and Anya Sapozhnikova, who brought this vision of an all-inclusive, artistic, radical nightclub to life—but not without their fair share of doubts and challenges.
Throughout the film, we learn just how critical the nightclub is for the well-being of its artists and creators, Sapozhnikova in particular, as she had to lean on her House of Yes family more than ever after being diagnosed with bipolar II disorder.
Yours Truly creative director Will Abramson and producer Alex Thurmond said in a collective statement to Adweek that discussing Sapozhnikova’s path to coping with bipolar depression was important to opening up a larger, necessary conversation on mental health, especially as it pertains to the creative and LGBTQ community, and also in portraying House of Yes as the “place of expression, exploration and acceptance” that it is.
“At House of Yes, you’re encouraged to get in touch with different sides of yourself, whatever those may be,” Abramson and Thurmond said. “On any given night, there’s undoubtedly someone at one of their parties who’s had a similar experience, or has a similar interest, whether that’s mental health, performance art or music. Everyone is welcome and every matter of expression is encouraged—so long as it’s respectful of others.”
In the film, Burke admits to her own feelings of helplessness in being unable to pull her longtime friend and collaborator Sapozhnikova “out of the funk” she was in before she knew her diagnosis.
“I definitely had extreme ups and downs,” Sapozhnikova said in the film. “I attributed it to being young and not knowing what you’re doing and being stressed out.”
Sapozhnikova goes on to explain why it was so difficult for her to admit to herself, let alone open up to others, that she was struggling internally and needed the level of support she herself has provided to countless people who have walked through the doors of House of Yes.
While the film aims to entice people who may be dealing with feelings of not belonging to visit House of Yes, Abramson and Thurmond said it can also comfort others living nowhere near Brooklyn with the knowledge that inclusive places “exist and they’re flourishing.”
“We hope that the film makes people feel less alone,” Abramson and Thurmond said. “Whether they’re struggling with depression, mental health, sexuality or feeling different from their peers, know that there are others who’ve felt the same way, that it’s OK to talk about it and to seek help.”
House of Yes currently runs on Red Bull TV. This particular episode was directed by Elena Parasco and features the work of visual artist and director Sam Cannon. Other episodes in the series have profiled Brazil’s Batekoo, Los Angeles’ Girlschool and Link Miami Rebels in Miami.