Shortly after 2 a.m. on Saturday, June 12, a gunman opened fire at an Orlando-area nightclub in Florida, killing a confirmed 50 people and injuring more than 50 people. Pulse, the nightclub where the Orlando shooting took place was clearly a staple nighttime destination in the Orlando area, but its importance stretched far beyond that. According to a USA TODAY report, one of the owners of Pulse started the club in an effort to promote awareness about the area's gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual communities after her brother died from AIDS. Barbara Poma first opened Pulse with friend and co-founder Ron Leger in 2014, USA TODAY reports. They're known for hosting themed performances and a monthly program of LGBT-related educational events. The night of the deadly attack was Latin night.
(Update: The FBI has updated the death toll to 49 victims. The shooter was also killed.)
According to its About page on its Facebook, Pulse was "Orlando's Premier Gay Nightclub and Ultra Lounge/Bar," and reviews for the nightclub tout it as the "best gay bar" in the Orlando area. After Poma's brother John came out as gay to his friends and family, Pulse became a space to help foster community, love, and support. Of Pulse's creation, a quote on their website read,
It was important to create an atmosphere that embraced the gay lifestyle with décor that would make John proud. Most importantly, (we) coined the name Pulse for John’s heartbeat — as a club that is John’s inspiration, where he is kept alive in the eyes of his friends and family.
On the club's Twitter page, the Ying Yang Twins were slated to perform at the lounge a month from now, on July 12 in order to help the club and its devout following celebrate its 12-year anniversary. That the club was a month away from celebrating 12 years as a mainstay for both the LGBT community and the Orlando nightclub community is a harrowing reminder of just how tragic the events of last night were. Officials have noted that the attack at Pulse nightclub is now the most deadly attacks in American history, killing 50 people.
According to reviews, Pulse earned four out of five stars and one user said, "“It does get a bit crowded, but the atmosphere is great and the drag shows are awesome!” Jamie J. wrote,
Great club. I have been twice in a week. The first night was on Wednesday, and it was jammed-packed. The bartender said that Wed are the best nights to dance the night away. They have long islands on special so if you stick to those drinks, the price isn't too bad. If you drink anything not on special be prepared to spend some money.It's a great gay bar. The second time I went was on Latin night which is [Saturday]. Again this place was packed and full of amazing dancers. People have a great time dancing and drinking. The drink specials are pretty much the same, long islands and coronas are $3 til 12. Put on your dancing shoes as you latin dance the night away. Even though this place is gay bar, all people come out and dance on Latin night.
She closed her glowing review with,
I'm a huge fan and will be returning for fun nights out. See you there.
Though Pulse is undoubtedly changed forever by what happened there on the morning of June 12, I think we can all agree that Pulse will still stand as a beacon of hope and a pillar of strength.