Pop-Up! Queer Dance Party was founded (almost five years ago), because my co-founder and I realized that we had to be the ones we were waiting for to open a gay bar after 135 Pearl closed. We didn’t have money, the time, or know how to create a permanent space so we got creative and planned a pop-up dance party, in a raw space in Winooski, in the middle of a snowy January. Great planning right?

We rolled up our sleeves and lugged in a sound system, DIY decorations, a temp bar service, and xmas lights. We got the word out the old school way (social media was still not really a big thing yet) by networking, postering, and giving lots of folks a free way in by having them volunteer. We turned out over 200 people for that first party and immediately saw the power of creating queer space for our community. People danced, socialized, laughed, made out, got sweaty, and had an awesome time.

Seeing people show up, not for us, but for each other, just to be in community together and to dance, was inspiring. The day after, we knew we had to keep it up, and somehow we did, even though we never had more money or time.

After that first year, my co-founder moved out of state to pursue her passions and Pop-Up! QDP was entrusted to me to keep going. It has been a labor of love, not for profit, largely solo effort for a good while now and I can tell you what keeps me going is knowing that no matter where we pop-up, that queer folks will turn out, even in a rural state like Vermont. Why?

Dedicated IRL queer space matters. 

When the Pulse Night club massacre happened in June of last year, a couple of the folks involved in Pop-Up! QDP felt we needed to do something more than just the Burlington march and rally that occurred. The names of those who had been murdered, in what was historically sacred queer space–a queer bar, had to be said out loud. We had to hold the space for those that were lost. So, for the first time pop-up! created a pop-up! queer action. It was a simple gathering to read the names of the victims, to chalk their names on the ground just off Church Street, and to make space to mourn and remember them. There were 49 victims and we had 50 people turn out in less than 24 hours notice to participate. It just the right amount of people, for just the right amount of space creating.

I share these two origin stories of Pop-Up! QDP because making space creates meaning and power.

Yesterday, the Women’s Marches (20,000 in Montpelier, VT, that is nearly 6% of the state!) only further proved to me that showing up ignites you.

If we are to not just survive, but thrive we must actively resist the new establishment while also using our social privilege(s), to keep this movement authentically intersectional. Feeling solidarity when others show up for you can help feed that fire inside like none else. So, we all must dig in and get ready to fight for the rights of people of color, queer folks, immigrants, people with disabilities, and women. Work to protect reproductive freedom, to end all forms violence against human bodies, to ensure safe, equitable, and representative places to work. Commit to the protection of the health our planet and the health of our democracy. The future of this country, and the world, will only be vibrant if we have everyone with us along the way and in our manifested beautiful communities.

What will sustain that fired up, ready to go feeling is going to be on each of us to do our part to not just claim our space, but to make it inclusive.

Yes, both Obamas have been saying this too, but they are on vacation, so we need to get started on our own now.

This is a moment for “retired” activists, current organizers to “tag in” and newbies to become consistently active in this intersectional movement as we move forward. Ready to make some space by resisting, take actioning, and/or disrupting? Check out this growing list of big and small ways to make more space for us all.

In fierce solidarity,

DJ Llu

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