The band plays a tune — a slow salsa to start out easy for the dancers as they sing, spin and fall over each other during the salsa dancing lesson that started off the night.
To kick off Latinx Heritage Month, HOLA, the Hispanic and Latinx community club, and The Hispanic/Latino Graduate Student Association (HLGSA) partnered up to present the annual Fiesta Latina event in Trabant on Saturday night.
Junior Danyella Lopez-Juarez, the events programmer for HOLA, says the purpose of Fiesta Latina is to help students who identify as part of the Latinx community come to experience a piece of their culture as well as help non-hispanic students get a different view on the community.
“We want people to feel like this is a place where they can come and experience their own culture if it’s not something they get to have day-to-day, and for non-Latinx to come and see what we’re all about, because we’re not all the same,” Lopez-Juarez says.
In one activity, flags from the different Spanish speaking countries were hung around the room and students had to correctly guess the different countries to win a prize. Other activities included a salsa dancing lesson, a live band and a DJ.
Graciela Perez, vice president of HLGSA and third-year graduate student, believes that the event was important for creating a connection between undergraduate and graduate minority students.
“We’re trying to build a bridge between undergraduate and graduate students at the university, because we are all living through the same experiences right now,” Perez says.
After the events that HOLA has hosted and participated in within the last week, including the DACA rally held on The Green on Sept. 18, the group felt like the fiesta was a great way to end a stressful week.
Graduate student and president of HLGSA Barbara Romero seconds Perez’s sentiments about the event’s promise for unity.
“We’re trying to collaborate and create a bond so we can create a real community here at the university, one that stands for what we believe in,” Romero says.
As Trabant filled up throughout the night, students danced and painted masks. They ate traditional Latinx food, where each dish was accompanied by a description of its importance within the Latinx community. The plantains, for example, were explained as being a staple in many Spanish speaking countries for their versatility and year-round growth. They posed for photos in the booth setup that featured signs with sayings like “¡La Diva!”
Perez thinks the representation of Latinx students is important to teach university students that Latinx encompasses more than just Mexican and Puerto Rican culture, which is often misrepresented by American society.
“We’re here and we’re proud and we’re at UD,” Perez says.