Latin American Network celebrates Caribbean culture with live music and traditional food


Guillermo Hernandez

Biology freshman Genry Santibanez and undeclared freshman Brianna Williams dance during the Latin American Network’s “A Night in the Caribbean” event on Saturday night. Texas Latin Dance, which has both Santibanez and Williams as members, taught basic salsa dancing steps to the audience during the week.

Victor Hernandez-Jayme

The Latin America Network hosted A Night in the Caribbean on Saturday night to celebrate the cultures of the tropical West Indies with food and live music.

“Tonight people from very different backgrounds come to celebrate a specific region of the world,” organization president Ana Hernandez said. “Stereotypically, Latin Americans are often associated with food and dance, and for the most part this holds true; food and dance are an intrinsic part of the culture.” 

The event, which was open to the public, took place in the Student Activity Center ballroom and included live music by Susan Torres y Conjunto Clemencia. UT student group Texas Latin Dance gave impromptu lessons in merengue, the national dance of the Dominican Republic, and other dance styles.

“There’s a lot of music and food, but more than that, there is a very diverse group — there’s people from different ethnicities, colors and cultures,” anthropology graduate student Derrick Washington said. “There’s a lot of people who stick to a specific genre, say electronic music, and they really miss out on not only other genres, but other cultures as well. Latin music for instance, is not a musical choice, it is a way of coming together.”

Other student groups also attended the event, such as the Caribbean Students Association and the Caribbean Network.

“We had a very good response from the community,” said Mario Guel, Latin American Network ambassador. “We are serving Colombian food, for instance, which shares commonalities with other cuisines from the region; black beans, fried yuca and bananas, meat empanadas and fruit punch are traditional plates throughout the region.”

One of the activities was a raffle that helped raise money for the Caribbean Community Association, a nonprofit that focuses on disaster relief, education and health care. 

“Latin American culture is very unique and the region has a lot of potential,” Guel said. “We are an all-inclusive organization that focuses on cross-cultural awareness and solidarity.” 

LAN holds biweekly meetings that focus on a Latin American country each session. The meetings encompass a short presentation, a video and an open discussion for participants who want to address a particular aspect of the country.

“The food was delicious and the music really brought people together,” management junior Amy Collins said. “What I like the most of Latin American cultures is their soulful aspect.”

Published on February 4, 2013 as "Event celebrates Latin culture".