Special Issue - After Pulse: Reflections on Music Scholarship in the Wake of the 2016 Orlando Nightclub Massacre

On June 12, 2016, queers of color were gathered with their friends and allies for Latin Night at Pulse in Orlando, Florida, celebrating identity and community amidst the sounds of salsa, reggaeton, and hip-hop. The nightmare that ensued was one of the deadliest manifestations of America’s gun crisis, a terrible reminder that people of color and queers are still targets of systemtic bigotry across the country. The 2016 Sounding Board Special Issue includes blog posts addressing the impact of Pulse on our work as music scholars, whether we work in and/or across the disciplines of ethnomusicology, musicology, music theory, popular music, or other areas. This Special Issue has been guest edited by Sarah Hankins (shankins@ucsd.edu) and the SEM's Gender and Sexualities Taskforce and coordinated by Pablo Infante-Amate (pablo.infanteamate@music.ox.ac.uk).

(Re-)Membering Pulse: A Foreword

Difficult times. Ethnomusicologists doing what they do best. Writing. Deploying pens, keyboards, making poetry out of pain and memory. Crafting and drafting ethnography, using disciplinary tools. Musicians acting in response. Sia performing. Ethnomusicologists (re-)acting in a performative disjuncture. Ethnomusicologists using weapons to communicate anger and confusion, remorse and compassion.

After Pulse: An Introduction

On Saturday, June 12, 2016, queers of color, their friends and allies, were killed and wounded in the midst of a musical celebration; their place of sanctuary was destroyed, their families and communities were plunged into nightmare. Since June, we’ve seen the mass-shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando filed away as just one more entry in an American catalogue of horrors.

Feeling Unsafe at the Intersection of Broadway and Belle Plaine

Just two weeks after the Pulse massacre, I watched the Chicago Pride Parade from the northeast corner of Broadway and Belle Plaine Avenue, in the city’s Uptown neighborhood. As marchers processed toward the Boystown gay village, I kept thinking about safety.

Mad Planet

My Pulse nightclub was a small, dimly lit, underage nightclub called Mad Planet. Situated on the border of the hood and Milwaukee’s slowly gentrifying hipster bastion Riverwest, Mad Planet attracted a gloriously freakish assortment of shapes, sizes, orientations, and musical tastes.

After Pulse: Political Movements and the Dance Floor

“It’s gay pride, not black pride”—a spectator’s claim during the 2016 Toronto Pride Parade as quoted in the Globe and Mail—is emblematic of the vitriolic response to a brief sit-in by Black Lives Matter-Toronto (BLM) that halted one of the world’s largest Pride Parades for thirty minutes. Before ending their protest, BLM made nine demands of Pride’s organizers.

Love is a Battlefield: Public Intimacy and Queer Latinx Belonging under the Shadow of the Orlando Massacre

On June 11, 2016, I turned on my phone as I walked off a plane and discovered that a dancefloor had become a site of slaughter.[1] As a queer Latino who grew up dancing at clubs and raves, I felt an immediate and dizzying affinity with the victims of the Orlando shootings, and Pulse nightclub could have been any number of places where I’ve gathered with fellow outcasts to heal the bruise

One Dance, the Last Dance

They lock eyes as the instrumental track of Kaoma's “Lambada” and the vocal track for the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” overlay: “We’re sorry but it’s time to go . . . Sgt. Pepper’s lonely Hears Club Band.” She raises her arms and sways her hips, an invitation to dance and a proposition that they touch—embrace.

All the Dead Boys Look like Me



for Orlando   



Last time, I saw myself die is when police killed Jessie Hernandez



"Sounding Board" is intended as a space for scholars to publish thoughts and observations about their current work. These postings are not peer reviewed and do not reflect the opinion of Ethnomusicology Review. We support the expression of controversial opinions, and welcome civil discussion about them. We do not, however, tolerate overt discrimination based on race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or religion, and reserve the right to remove posts that we feel might offend our readers.
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