Today (June 12) we commemorate what still feels like a fresh wound: the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando in which 49 people were killed and 53 wounded by gunman Omar Mateen. There will be vigils and candles and prayers. We will say their names. But perhaps our holiest of remembrances will be to continue to gather and center love on the dance floor.

Like a lot of communities fighting for survival, our gathering places have been where we find affirmation and sanctuary. For many of us, continuing to show up and dance together are acts of defiance, remembrance and resilience. In honor of everyone we’ve lost, we asked members of the Washington DC-based, multiracial DJ collective Anthology of Booty to collaborate on a playlist. Check out the songs they shared on Spotify and read the messages they shared below.

Natty Boom

Photo: Courtesy of Natty Boom A Black women with a bun stands in a field with orange flowers.

“I grew up in Oklahoma as a preacher’s kid (PK), watching my dad lead our congregation through singing and speaking. Years later, after learning how to mix music from other women DJs in DC, I drew upon my experiences of performing as a drag king and my experience as a PK to create my stage persona. After my dad came to one of my gigs, he told me I had a gift. He recognized that the energy Anthology of Booty made was parallel to the work he did. I see our queer dance-floor spaces as church. It’s where I get renewed, where I commune, where I feel in community and not alone. I look forward to continuing these spaces and expanding them to be intergenerational and not centered around alcohol.” 

kristy la rAt

Photo: Adriana Carpio A light-skinned woman wearing a blue baseball cap

“Music and QTPOC fiestas hold powerful potential for queer world-making and for the speculative to come to life, even if temporarily or unevenly. I was lucky enough to start DJing and throwing parties with folks who were becoming my good friends. Now they are my chosen family. We got much closer in the process of trying to design sound and space that reflected our wildest dreams, including some sense of safety and respect, some goofy themes, and some self-expression that didn’t fit a conventional sexy. We learned a lot from organizers before us, and over the years it’s been exciting to hear from partygoers about the ripple effects of the spaces we’ve co-created. Friendships have been built, movements have been sprouted and supported, epic make-outs have fueled liberation and rituals of release have [helped us get free.]”  

Mothersheister

Photo: Vanessa Miller

“The dance floor is a political space. For Black and non-Black LGBTQI people of color, it functions as a place of creative resistance and liberation. Anthology of Booty decided to throw parties with that in mind. We wanted to provide a safer space where folks could express desire and move without being policed. But we knew to do that, we had to channel our values. Whether it was the fliers and the email promo we created, the bouncers we had to have a chat with about respecting our people, the acts we booked, the signage we put up, or our incident-response plan when something wild came up like police being called or unwanted touching by a patron, all of that organizing had to reflect our fight against White supremacy, anti-Blackness, homophobia and patriarchy.” 

Rosana Cruz currently serves as a senior fellow at Colorlines’ parent company, Race Forward. A writer, parent, social justice movement leader and intersectional feminist, they have lived in New Orleans for over 20 years. They hold an MA in Latin American Studies from the Stone Center at Tulane University.  Essays by Cruz have been published in hipMama, Bridge the Gulf Project and the anthology Mamaphonic. Cruz is a 2017 VONA Voices Fellow and an amateur dj.