In the age of Instagram, the defining feature of a bar is often determined not by reviews, tastes or intent, but by smartphone. While some spaces are designed with this express purpose in mind, there are certain objects that become inadvertent icons through their unwitting “Instagram-ability.” In this series, PUNCH shares the stories behind the bar world’s most viral landmarks.
On an unassuming stretch of Bushwick’s Wyckoff Avenue, situated alongside rows of weathered, utilitarian Brooklyn warehouses, sits House of Yes, it’s turquoise facade and 10-foot lettering—Y-E-S—announcing itself like a peacock among the pigeons.
Just last year, visiting House of Yes, which bills itself as “a temple of expression dedicated to connection, creativity and celebrating life” ranked No. 2 on Time Out’s list of the 50 best things to do in the world. Judging from Instagram, however, the No. 1 activity seems to belong to snapping a photo in the venue’s mirrored corridor leading to the bathrooms. Drag queens, skaters, birthday revelers, bar mitzvah boys—nobody can escape its allure; in New York nightlife, there may be no better equalizer.
The fractured mirrored walls are an apt decor choice for a venue that is many things at once: circus, cabaret, dance hall, roller disco, theater. For some partygoers, it is perhaps a fitting metaphor, or poignant reminder, that they, too, contain multitudes. For others, it’s a demonstration of the sort of nightlife magic that can seemingly only happen in New York. “New York, you is wild” reads one caption for a photo of a girl relishing the disco ball glow in a neon-streaked leather jacket.
Yet, for others still, it is simply an Insta-ready photo op: “I’m not usually one to go for sparkle or silly posing, but when surrounded by rhinestones and sparklage … you go for it with roller skates on, right?” reads another caption. It’s a feeling shared by just about everyone who documents their passage through the hall of mirrors—a feeling captured most succinctly by one user in particular: “felt cute.”