On one of the coldest nights of the semester yet, students stayed warm to the rhythmic thump of Salsa and Merengue.
On Wednesday, Oct. 30, the Latino Student Union (LSU) finished celebrating Latino Heritage Month with “Bailoterapia.” Junior Alejandra Reyes and senior Lily Eschweiler led students in various Latino dances as a fun, engaging way to learn about the different cultures represented on campus.
Bailoterapia is a form of dance therapy with Latino music, as described by LSU Co-President, senior Ivana Sempertegui.
Over the course of an hour, students of all different backgrounds and experience levels learned three different styles of dance, step by step. The group started the night by learning Bachata and ended with Salsa. However, the crowd favorite was Merengue. Merengue is a high-energy style of Dominican dance and music, where partners follow one another through an intricate series of turns and spins.
In a series of weekly events throughout the month of October, LSU held multiple celebrations on campus. The goal of these sorts of events is to create a fun, relaxed space for students to learn about the different groups represented on campus.
“It was a lot of bringing together people from different contexts and different cultures, different ethnicities,” Sempertegui said. “Just to have fun and learn a different dance that they might have never known before.”
Freshmen Talia Junco and Ashley Greenan attended together after meeting at a previous Salsa night, also held by LSU.
Coming from a Cuban family, Junco said she enjoys attending these events to learn more about her culture. She encouraged Greenan to come with her, as her boyfriend is Latino and she has been eager to learn more about his background.
This approach to the dances is what LSU hopes to see in their events. As an organization, they extend Latino hospitality to everyone on campus, no matter their cultural background.
“We always say, as the Latino culture, we treat everyone as a family,” Sempertegui said. “So I would say, don't feel that because we're always together it’s not super inclusive. We try to include everyone.”
While LSU doesn’t have any more planned events for the semester, they encourage students to continue to stay involved with events and conversations happening on campus.
Junco appreciates these sorts of events and the opportunity to expand outside of her circle.
“It's cool because you can see all these nations’ different cultures and languages all brought together,” she said.
Eschweiler, a third generation Latino, has found a new family with Taylor’s Latino community. She hopes that students experience the same hospitality on campus that she found.
“It's not just about if you're Hispanic or not,” Eschweiler said. “It's if you want to get to know us. Come because we want to get to know you. That's why we do these (sorts of events), so that way we can get to know other people outside of our culture and in our culture. It's a beautiful thing. That's what I would encourage, even if you don't know the language, if you don't know the culture, we make it so that you can learn and we can get to know you.”