"It's just...chill. Just be yourself. It's something you'll never forget."
Those were the words of one of my fellow partygoers on our way to House of Yes for the Creature party. I had just explained that I was super nervous about a weird or scary night at my very first real New York City party.
Since moving back to New York City and taking on this list, I've had my fair share of nights out. Bars, parades, and concerts have filled my schedule with some truly unique experiences. But I had never done something like House of Yes, where costumes, EDM, and lights combine to create a setting where anything can happen. Could I, a shy and anxious girl with zero rhythm, survive on one of the coolest dance floors in the city?
House of Yes is located in Bushwick, right off the Jefferson Street L train stop. It’s housed in an old laundromat, and is the brainchild of New York artists Kae Burke and Anya Sapozhnikova. Nearly every night, visitors get to experience burlesque dancers, aerialists, circus performers, and House of Yes’s famous themed parties. Now's where I confess that I've been to the Dirty Circus at House of Yes (one of the amazing weeknight shows) before, but never to a real party.
I first heard of House of Yes a few months back from a friend of mine, who is the absolute life of the party, and who you ask for nightlife recommendations in the city. He absolutely raved about all of the events and crazy themed nights, where costumes are strongly encouraged. I thought "that is absolutely not my scene." Or maybe it is? Maybe instead of spending Saturday night watching Netflix, I'd feel more at home covered in glitter and partying with strangers. He's never steered me wrong before, so I had to find out.
I have a reputation here on Five Borough Bucket List (and let’s be honest, in every other facet of my life) to do everything alone. I've gotten way better with building up the courage to go to bigger things alone. But there was something about going to a big dance party that felt intimidating to do by myself. I’ve asked friends to go to parties for months, but no one ever wanted to go with me. Rather than risk feeling stupid awkward, I turned to the internet in search of anyone who would agree to be by my side for at least part of the party. I found Josie and Paul, two Brooklynites in their early 20s who were down for a night out.
First thing’s first, the outfit. Since we were attending a “creature” themed party, I decided to start my Halloween Parade costume early, and use that for this night. After braving the hot glue gun to sequin my Mermaid Parade costume, I was more than up to the challenge again. It involved 8 hours of adding sequins, several hours figuring out peacock feathers and gluing them down, and lots of hair/makeup work. And glitter. So much glitter. Plus LED lights, because standing out at a party at House of Yes requires more effort than most places.
Josie, Paul, and I met up for a drink at a nearby bar before we made our way to the venue. We stood in line outside for about 15 minutes before we got into the bar area, where there’s a makeup corner and professional photographer snapping portraits. A quick drink order later, and we made our way to the dance floor. I felt really comfortable dancing (well, A for effort in attempting to dance), and I was getting lots of compliments on my costume.
House of Yes operates on a very strict (you have to agree to it when you buy your ticket) consent policy, where a clear yes is required for any type of touching. This is in place to make sure everyone is comfortable, which I loved. The last few bars I’ve gone to, I’ve been harassed, insulted, or grabbed by another patron. House of Yes is all about being a safe space, and they will throw you out on your ass if you decide that consent isn’t a thing.
Our trio hung around together for a few hours before we got split up for different reasons. I actually felt pretty comfortable dancing on my own, and I stuck around for a bit by myself before calling it a night around 2:30 (is this lame? It felt lame.) The dance floor typically features aerialists and other performers out amongst the crowd, and it’s really a big sight to see and experience!
I had a lot of fun at House of Yes, and I’ll definitely be back for another themed party. It’s rare that I get to put together an intricate costume, so having themed nights is the perfect chance for me to dress up. I didn't feel like I needed people in my group to have a good time, but I know that going solo is not for everyone. House of Yes encourages interacting with each other and making new friends, but for the shy ones like myself, it can be a major challenge to do that.
Either way, House of Yes is truly something I'll never forget, even long after I finally get the rest of this glitter off of me.
Interested in more bucket list adventures in New York City? Follow along on Instagram at @fiveboroughbucketlist!