project image
Joseph Liatela

first performed on June 30, 2020
Julius' Bar, livestreamed by The Leslie-Lohman Museum
performed once in 2020


Dancers: DaJuan Harris & John Macejka

New York, NY


“Vital Response” was originally performed and filmed in June of 2020 at the oldest gay bar in New York City, Julius’ Bar. For this performance, which was live-streamed by the Leslie-Lohman Museum, Liatela activated the inside of Julius’ Bar employing the same lighting and music as if the bar were open on a Saturday night. Over the course of two hours, two dancers appeared and disappeared within the space, performing choreographed movements interacting with the bar’s otherwise empty interior.

This piece, which culminated into a single channel video, seeks to re-imagine the future of the cultural, historical, and political space of the queer bar. From anti-sodomy laws, to police raids, to the Stonewall riots, to the ongoing AIDS crisis, to the Pulse Orlando mass shooting—the queer bar has endured as a necessary site for social gathering and queer world making, providing a respite from the rigid and prescribed social and cultural parameters of (heterosexual) public space. Importantly, the queer bar has been directly connected to many historical moments of triumph, celebration, and struggle in lgbtqia+ communties.

When contemplating the future of the gay bar in our current moment of physical distancing and uncertainty, rather than resort to despair, “Vital Response” seeks to imagine how queer people may re-enter, re-imagine, and re-configure the socially, culturally, and politically meaningful, as well as complex, space of the queer bar. In other words, how will we choose to gather when it is safe to dance together once more? This project seeks to inspire hope in reminding queer people that there is still a dancefloor waiting for you, for us, in the not so distant future.