It has been more than a year since the Queremos Bailar debut at Yerberia Cultura in the Summer of 2015. This is going to be a trip back in time to how Queremos Bailar first started and how it has become an LGBTQ monthly celebration in downtown McAllen, Texas.

Queremos Bailar came to be at the same time a group of us in the Rio Grande Valley came together under the organization Aqui Estamos RGV. We were in the process of organizing Aquí Estamos 2015, the first queer and trans people of color conference in the Rio Grande Valley. The conference took place on August 6th and 7th in McAllen, and that’s when Queremos Bailar was born.

We decided to have a mixer on August 6th, a Thursday night, right after day one of the conference at Yerberia Cultura. The actual flyer to that event said “Aquí Estamos Social Mixer Cumbia Dance Party,” no mention of “Queremos Bailar.” But when we did the Facebook event page itself we titled it: “Queremos Bailar – Aquí Estamos Puro Pari”. Alexis Bay– or dj pc, as they dubbed themselves– came up with that title.

First Queremos Bailar flyer ever

Four days after that historic conference and the first Queremos Bailar, the owner of Yerberia Cultura messaged me on Facebook and asked if I would be interested in having a monthly event at Yerberia. He told me it would be my night and off the top of his head, he had the initial idea of calling it “Friday’s with Pharr From Heaven,” as my blog is called. I liked the title, but I was curious about what else we could come up with.

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So I texted Alexis and we started to brainstorm different themes and ideas for this. We began with the idea of bringing an LGBTQ+ friendly night that was inclusive of us all, a gathering that was a celebration of ourselves, as a community together. We wanted to do something special and unique, an event in a safe space that would be centered around self-care and self-love. Not to be all “Cheers,” but a place where everyone knows your name, and a place where one can be genuinely comfortable being their true self, among their friends and peers.

Alexis used this great quote of theirs to “put over” the idea of the first event: “There are cactuses which require decades to bloom so don’t worry if you think time is running out for you. It is never too late to blossom.”

I used an Audre Lorde quote to get across my vision for this: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

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We tried to figure out what would be a could title for this event, and eventually decided “Queremos Bailar” would be the ideal title to work into this event. But what about the subtitle? We then came up with “Déjame Vivir,” which worked on several levels. Both in a silly way, somewhat similar to “let me” as my friends and I sometimes use jokingly, but also works in the serious way of “let us live” as we please, as we are. It also worked ’cause it was the title of a song Rocio Durcal and Juan Gabriel performed together in the 1980’s.

Since then, we’ve kept moving forward with new events that stayed true to the original vision, while still touching upon various themes. We’ve experimented with doing karaoke, leading to its own spinoff night at Yerberia Cultura, and even having Herbie Lopez, a chromatic accordionist for several popular conjuntos, perform a live huapango. The biggest event we’ve done by far was Somos Darks, where we added one more DJ to the mix for one night– DJ Grosella.

Join our next Queremos Bailar: School’s out! tonight at Yerberia Cultura to celebrate the end of the school year starting at 9PM!

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This story was first published on danimarr.com.