Students Shake It at Latin Dance Lessons

Photo by Nicole Williams

Putting their best foot forward, the College Programming Board, Lambda Theta Alpha and Lambda Theta Phi sponsored a Latin dance lessons workshop for students in Friends Hall on Oct. 2.

In recognition of Latino Heritage Month, celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, the organizations set up the workshop in order to embrace two of the Latino culture's well-known traditions: festive dancing and delicious food.

During this time, the College recognized the contributions made by Hispanic and Latino Americans in the United States, celebrating their heritage and culture.

The beginning of the night consisted of serving traditional Latino-based foods such as empanadas, arroz amarillo, frijoles negros, salad and two different kinds of plantains: maduros, a sweet and deep-fried until golden brown, and tostones, fried but with a saltier taste depending on how it is flavored.

Anais Castellanos, junior, said “It was nice to have a taste of home while being at school. There’s no real good Spanish food around Ramapo so I look forward to programs like this during Latino Heritage Month. I know a lot of my friends here don’t usually eat this kind of food so I think besides being a learning experience for them, they are being exposed to different cultures' foods.”

After the crowd began finishing their meals, two professional ballroom dancers came to the center of the room to give everyone a sneak preview of what they would be learning that night. While the dancers showed their stuff, the students became eager to bust a move. Although the routine learned that night was not as elaborate as the ballroom dancers' original performance, everyone participating had a great time.

Even those who were not so keen to learn the dances had good time. “This was just a cool time,” said freshman Arely Calpeño. “I liked that this was a break from some of the stress I’ve been under from school. I have two left feet so I chose not to join but watching all of the dancing and everyone having fun made it easier to take a load off."

Students had the opportunity to learn different styles of traditional Latino dances such as bachata, merengue and salsa. There also was a PowerPoint presentation playing throughout the event to break down the technicality of the dances.

Madelyn Santana, Ramapo alumna and co-sponsor, felt as though this event made Latino Heritage Month more hands-on. “Rather than sitting and merely listening about Latino culture, students are actually getting to immerse themselves in the culture by participating in one of the most hands-on experiences possible. This program is not just educational but fun as well. I think they should bring it back every year.”