After the tragic shooting in Orlando, President Obama called Pulse “a place of solidarity and empowerment.” For a lot of people, places like Pulse are much more sacred.

One year after Orlando, we honor the 49 lives lost with a beautiful collection of personal essays by some of our favorite writers, fellow queer Latin club-goers. Here are some uplifting words about self-discovery and liberation on the dance floor.

You know what the opposite of Latin Night at the Queer Club is? Another Day in Straight White America. So when you walk into the club, if you’re lucky, it feels expansive. “Safe space” is a cliche, overused and exhausted in our discourse, but the fact remains that a sense of safety transforms the body, transforms the spirit. So many of us walk through the world without it. So when you walk through the door and it’s a salsa beat, and brown bodies, queer bodies, all writhing in some fake smoke and strobing lights, no matter how cool, how detached, how over-it you think you are, Latin Night at the Queer Club breaks your cool. You can’t help but smile, this is for you, for us.

– Justin Torres, “In Praise of Latin Night at the Queer Club” for The Washington PostAfter Orlando Latin Night at Gay Nightclub

The politics of dancing is the politics of feeling good; the politics of dancing is also the politics of willing yourself to feel good. Pop is replete with miniature psychodramas in which memory and desire, subject and object, play out on the dance floor… Because queer lives were for decades subject to the caprices of the state, we retain a sense of our bodies as palimpsests on which childhood hurts, adolescent disappointments, and the meek adjustments of adulthood are written in luminous ink. Provided that it’s big and loud, I can dance to anything.

– Alfred Soto, “Only When I’m Dancing Can I Feel This Free” for MTVAfter Orlando Latin Night at Gay Nightclub

Gay bars are therapy for people who can’t afford therapy; temples for people who lost their religion, or whose religion lost them; vacations for people who can’t go on vacation; homes for folk without families; sanctuaries against aggression. They take sound and fabric and flesh from the ordinary world, and under cover of darkness and the influence of alcohol or drugs, transform it all into something that scrapes up against utopia.

– Richard Kim, “Please Don’t Stop the Music” for The Nation