Tilt, the basement bar and club underneath the McKibbin Lofts not to be confused with nearby arcade sports bar Tiltz, is about to get a whole lot gayer. The bar, which co-owners of the legendary Lit Lounge opened in December 2016 with The Trash Bar’s Aaron Pierce, is about to re-open as The Vault, a gay bar helmed by a team who are no strangers to queer Brooklyn nightlife.
The trio of owners—Meg Cavanagh, Cameron Cole, and Josh Luis—met through their various involvements (“bartending and DJing and working for drag queens”) in Brooklyn’s thriving LGBTQ nightlife scene, primarily at the now-closed Williamsburg space This N’ That. Cavanagh explains Tilt’s owners reached out to some of their friends about how to go about transforming the space into a gay bar, and their friends referred the trio to Tilt. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened; East Williamsburg bar The Rosemont went from a jazz club to a queer space filled with drag shows back in 2017. “It’s always easier to start a space that has some kind of beginnings to it than to start from scratch,” Cavanagh adds.
With The Vault, they wanted to “create a new safe space; since [This N’ That] and Sugarland and Lovegun, all those bars closed, it’s been harder and harder to find a place where people can just be themselves and hang out and have a good time,” Cavanagh says. They chose to stay in North Brooklyn because “you can kind of get away with a lot more in Brooklyn than you can in Manhattan. It’s more freedom.”
Plus, she notes the location in Bushwick/East Williamsburg (also home to The Rosemont and the new sprawling queer space 3 Dollar Bill) makes it easier for people in the neighborhood to get there than to the gay bars in Williamsburg. “A lot of our friends are saying that they love this is a five minute walk from their house now as opposed to a 15 minute car ride.”
Cavanagh says people who have been to Tilt before will be “shocked” when they see how they’ve transformed the space. “We’re adding a whole mirror wall in the dance room, painted all the walls black and gold, made it a lot cleaner,” she says. One thing will remain the same: they’re “not touching” Tilt’s stairwell, which will stay plastered with old punk and rock show flyers from Lit owner Erik Foss’s collection.
Expect events galore at The Vault. Cavanagh says they’ll host “pretty much everything,” citing bingo, dance parties, drag shows, karaoke, trivia, fashion shows, and “an underwear party” as happenings currently in the works. They’ve already announced two weekly shows: Meow Mixx Mondays, with drag performer Crimson Kitty and DJ JClef; and Tuesday’s Topsy Twilight Cabaret, hosted by drag queen Vivica Galactica alongside DJ (and co-owner) Cameron Cole.
The Vault will officially open Saturday night, with a party hosted by drag queen and Brooklyn mainstay Scarlet Envy, who will be appearing on season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. There will also be music all night and an artist “taking sketches of peoples looks and outfits” for people to take home, so you’re not just waking up with a stranger or a hangover. “It’s gonna be a cool wild party; I think people are excited to see the space,” says Cavanagh.
And if you’re particularly eager (or have plans Saturday), they’ll be holding a soft opening tonight at 10.
The Vault, located at 248 McKibbin Street, will have its official opening party Saturday, February 2 at 10 pm.