Like a prayer

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Most Boerum Hill residents would be furious if a nightclub moved onto their block. For Caio and Kristine Dunson, though, Deity club couldn’t be close enough; so in January, they opened the two-floor lounge right beneath their apartment in a building that formerly housed a synagogue.

“It’s too convenient,” Kristine told GO Brooklyn. “We have to learn to stay in.”

But staying at home can be hard when after five years of work — restoring the exposed brick walls by hand, enlisting friends and family to help build the space out — you find yourself owning a club like this.

Unlike the precious restaurants and dive bars that dot the neighborhood, Deity has the slick feeling of a real nightclub; there are two levels (one is a lounge while the other is a dark dance floor), and a velvet rope. Except that at Deity, the cue is manned by unusually pleasant bouncers who shout, “C’mon in.”

As for the theme, “The name just seemed right,” said Caio, perhaps a reference to the building’s formerly sacred purpose. She pointed out that the motif extends to the restroom doors, marked “Gods” and “Goddesses.”

But the first thing you’ll spot upon walking into Deity is a slick-looking bar in a dark, sultry room. The paintings on the walls, done by local artists, give the space a sophisticated feeling, and the drinks being served — over 300 liquors are offered on the 21-page cocktail list — are about as far from a beer at the Gowanus Yacht Club as you can get.

This isn’t another flashy, Manhattan-style club, though. On a recent Friday night, a time when the space would have previously held religious services, couples crowded the booths lining the upper floor, and at midnight, a steady throng was waiting at the bar. Ambient music played — the DJ downstairs, where more dance-oriented songs are commonplace, was still setting up — and Caio greeted friends and collaborators, including DJ Scandelle, as they came in from the cold. Drawing a crowd like they do, it’s no wonder that the owners are hoping Deity can become a hub of the local art scene.

“Deity simply is an attempt to bring the Brooklyn community together in a creative way in a welcoming space,” said Caio. Unlike club owners who slap a few paintings on the foyer wall and call it a gallery, the Dunsons have been investing in Brooklyn artists from the get-go. The stained glass windows in the club are by Red Hook’s Susanna Conaway and the hexagon-shaped bar and black concrete-and-stone floors are by Clinton Hill’s Joe Dunson, Caio’s brother.

And the art won’t just be on the walls. On the second and fourth Wednesday of each month, “Artists for Positive Global Change” will take over the space and hold a fundraiser featuring art and live performances.

And if that’s not up your alley, stop by for “Gypsy Sundays,” a party hosted by Scandelle that aims to attract the neighborhood’s gay crowd.

“We want Deity to be a place where a person can feel comfortable and welcome regardless of their sexual orientation, color or religious beliefs,” Caio said. Eventually, the venue will open itself up to outside programming, and welcome burlesque, live music and dance parties.

“My wife and I live in Brooklyn because we wanted to get away from Manhattan — not recreate it,” said Caio. “Everybody is welcome.”

Deity (386 Atlantic Ave. at Hoyt Street in Boerum Hill) accepts American Express, MasterCard and Visa. The club is open Wednesday, from 5 pm to 9 pm; Thursday through Saturday, from 5 pm to 4 am; and Sundays, from 7 pm to 2 am. For information, call (718) 222-3692 or visit

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