Although Oakland, California is more than 2,900 miles away from Brooklyn, that isn’t stopping a group of courageous club owners from raising money for the victims and families of the Dec. 2 Oakland warehouse fire that claimed the lives of at least 36 people.
The lethal blaze erupted in a 10,000-square-foot artist collective, which was known as the Ghost Ship. The fire started around 11:30 p.m. while the warehouse was hosting an underground party. The incident is considered one of the worst structure fires in over a decade.
The fundraiser, dubbed “Brooklyn Loves Oakland,” will be held Thursday at the Bushwick nightclub House of Yes from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.
One hundred percent of ticket sales and door donations, and a percentage of bar sales will go directly towards the “Fire Relief Fund for Victims of Ghostship Oakland Fire” on the YouCaring website. At press time, $489,039 had already been raised for the fund’s $500,000 goal.
“This Thursday, we come together to get down and get generous for our Oakland brothers, sisters and others who lost so much in the warehouse fire this past weekend,” House of Yes wrote on the event flyer. “Nothing can replace the lives lost, but together we can celebrate this precious fragile thing called life and help ease the financial burden that falls on families and friends and communities after an intense sudden tragedy. We hope you will join us with your body and your heart. Dance Hard. Give Harder.”
Co-founder of House of Yes Kae Burke. Photo by Maxine NieNow
During the party, House of Yes will also be hosting fire education classes led by fire performer Tara Mc Manus. Topics of discussion include how buildings burn, ventilation, extinguishers, escape plans, fireguards, common combustible hazards, and flame-proofing textiles and other materials.
The fire safety classes will give party planners and event curators of underground, often illegal, warehouse parties the relevant information on how to throw safe celebrations.
The event will feature two rooms of DJs, aerial acrobatics, performance art dancers and beauty stations.
The Oakland warehouse fire hit close to home for the owners of House of Yes after they lost their original venue to a blaze in 2008.
That fire, which took a total of eight fire trucks to subdue, “turned the candy-colored bohemian paradise into a blazing inferno,” according to the House of Yes website. “Sound systems and sewing machines became molten plastic and costumes and bedrooms turned to colorless ash. The beloved cat Pilgrim could not be rescued. Although the rest of the residents made it out alive, they had lost not only their possessions but also their creative homes and art space.”
But, through fundraising and the generosity of the underground music community, House of Yes was able to raise enough funds to sign a lease on a new building and eventually rebuild their club into the thriving music venue that it is today.
“The inspiration came from people acting with such immediacy on our behalf and fundraising,” House of Yes co-founder Kae Burke told the Greenpoint Gazette. “This tragedy felt really close to us. It’s so hauntingly similar to what we’ve experienced firsthand. We know firsthand that you can’t even imagine the financial burden that you have to go through, whether you’ve lost your home, or your studio or your friend.
A performer blows fire into the air. Photo by Ely Kay
“It’s debilitating and you miss days of work because you’re scattered, your life is just dead,” she added. “It’s really hard to get back from something like this, and you don’t want to have to worry about getting kicked out of your apartment while you’re going through something.”
House of Yes is located at 2 Wyckoff Ave. To purchase tickets and to get more information on the event, go to houseofyes.org.
An entertainer carefully maneuvers a ball of fire. Photo by Ely Kay