Electronic Music Conference is back in Sydney, Australia this month and it’s invited New York club House of YES to throw a party under the guise of Club YES at Home the Venue on November 15. Get tickets here.
At the heart of Club YES - ran with CONTROL, House of Mince and House of Ayebatonye - is an ethos of positive social action shaped through inclusivity and diversity. It’s all about shining a light on the “culturally diverse LGBTIQA+ community and allies”. This is reflected in the line-ups at the New York venue and something replicated in this Club YES line-up during EMC. Berghain resident Boris and Miss Kittin headline a lengthy line-up supported by Queer Central and Sissy pioneer DJ Sveta, Estée Louder, whose club night and podcast series CONTROL champions women and the LGBTIQA+ community, Jamz Supernova, Anabelle Gaspar, Ben Drayton, Megatronic and more.
The story of House of YES began 12 years ago, when Kae Burke and Anya Sapozhnikova founded House of YES in New York to include those who are typically on the fringes of society, as a way of “connecting them with a supportive community”. But it’s not simply about the audience, this also translates across the whole House of YES offering.
“Diversity simply makes for a more exciting and inspiring party - and it's not just about the audience, it also means booking a diverse line-up of DJs and talent and staff,” says Kae Burke.
After multiple catastrophes - rat infestations, laptop thieves, house fires, police raids, rent strikes, crippling debt, to name a few - House of YES finally found its home after moving twice and that sense of community is what kept things going.
“We get through it all because we have a little family and we just keep working our asses off to keep the dream alive. The best way to overcome challenges is to take care of each other”
Now Kae, invited as a speaker on Embracing The Fringe - How We’re Driving Diversity Within Culture and Nightlife at this year’s Electronic Music Conference, is using her platform to highlight the importance of DIY spaces as vessels that inherently enhance culture but also encourage inclusivity and diversity.
“DIY spaces are important because they are incubation centres for club culture and fresh ideas and they typically exist because like-minded people came together and collaborate and celebrate, or make art and share their voice,” Kae says.
“Traditional clubs can be negatively influenced by their focus on financial success, making them exclusive and inaccessible and unwelcoming to certain communities.”
Boris, who plays Club YES, echoes Kae’s points: “They [DIY spaces] can build a platform for unknown and emerging alternative artists which have no access to mainstream culture and are important for changing and progressing views and values in general society.”
So what can traditional venues borrow from the DIY scene in order to create safer spaces for club goers and why is it important? Evidence indicates that businesses with diverse boards, members and patrons are more successful than those without, yet this alone is not enough to change attitudes.
Kae adds: “Venue owners should absolutely care about creating safer spaces in nightlife. It is in their best interest as business owners and culture makers.”
Kae also has some words of advice for those looking to make their venues more inclusive.
“The best advice I can give is to ask questions, accept feedback and be ready to take action and make some simple but important changes to your operations. For example, offering gender neutral bathrooms.”
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Jamz Supernova, who’s bringing her own unique blend of bass-driven music to Home for Club YES, also highlights constructive conversation as the key factor in improving a venue’s ability to be seen as a safer space.
“Put safety over profit. Listen to promoters - there are so many successful case studies of nights who have worked closely with venues to create a safe space. Pxssy Palace springs to mind and the great work that Rosie Parade is doing with Pussy Party in Johannesburg. None of these became safe places overnight but after a period of tweaking and working on a code of conduct.”
Jamz also describes how DIY parties and pop-up club spaces “help us get back to the essence of raving.” She adds: “They tend to have less monetary ambitions and are more invested in creating an actual experience through the bookings and music on offer.”
You can also catch Kae speaking at Global Cities After Dark on November in her Keynote, From DIY to WTF. She - along with House Of YES Cultural Director and Manager of the Consent Program, Jacqui Rabkin - will be discussing how they have grown their business and providing inspiration for those with grassroot venues. Head here for more information.