You’ve probably heard about the current popularity of bathhouses and saunas in New York. Sweat-sessions allow stressed out people to chill out, detach from their phones and even fight off winter blues. But unlike hitting your gym’s sauna for a quick decompressing steam, Hotbox Mobile Sauna, a sauna on wheels currently parked in Bushwick, is making sauna-time grounds for a fun night out and incorporating inclusivity in the process.
The wood-burning cabin-like sauna founded in 2018 by Jackie Aude and Paula Wegman, has already hosted a dynamic roster of events in and around the sauna, like karaoke nights and collaborations with local food vendors, musicians, artists and poets to push boundaries on how people can experience a wellness-driven space.
Aude and Wegman have created a weekly shvitz party, Sweat Sanctuary, for queer women, trans, and non-binary folx. During the Wednesday party night, sauna-goers grab a seat on the bench inside the 180-degree sauna, and in between rounds, can take an outdoor shower, hang in a heated chill tent and mingle over beverages like tea, kombucha and beer in an indoor pop-up bar.
“We want to create a space that’s inviting and positive, where everyone can exist as they are, be respectful, and feel good. It’s important for our communities to have safe spaces to relax, socialize, and recharge—especially for LGBTQ+ and marginalized folx. It’s very common, for LGBTQ+ people—especially trans folx—to be discriminated against in places like spas and gyms,” explains Aude. “We are also queer. And it's our number one priority to make these spaces more accessible for our community.”
Coming up on their nightlife-filled calendar, they also have a collaboration event with Babetown, a pop-up dinner party for queer women and trans and non binary people. After a sweat, attendees will find an array of face masks, aromatherapy and other holistic goodies, along with healthy eats, juices and low-alcohol content beverages.
Previously, The Hot Box Sauna has been parked outside hotspots like Bushwick’s pizza joint Roberta's, Ridgewood’s sprawling venue Nowadays and even out at Rockaway Brewing Co. “The ability to put heat on wheels, collaborate with neighborhoods and transform backyards, driveways and unused lots to create something warm and different that has a community around it is awesome,” says Aude. “It’s something so simple and good for you.” The hot space offers memberships for frequent visitors and you can rent it out for a private party like birthdays or for an intimate shvitz celebration.
Hot Box Sauna's current residency, which is channeling major camp vibes, is at 26 Vandervoort Pl Brooklyn, NY 11237, right off of Flushing Ave.