Students celebrate Latin dance, culture with Bailando

Sara Schleede

Couples spun around, twisting their arms and hips to the echoes of guitars, drums and trumpets in the Student Activity Center ballroom Wednesday night.

The Campus Events + Entertainment’s Mexican American Culture Committee hosted the dance gathering “Bailando.” The first half of the event featured an open dance floor with a diverse range of Latin music, from lively dance music such as Salsa and Bachata to the traditional styles of Rancheras and Corridos.

“People don’t really listen to it here,” MACC Chair Paloma Ayala said. “It’s more what we listen to when we’re back home with our families, so once we start playing the music everyone goes to the center of the dance floor.”

The event is in its third year, but this was the first to incorporate a dance competition. Sara Vela, event coordinator and MACC Freshman Leader in Progress, said she added the competition to further emphasize structured, Latin dance.

“I added a little dance competition in there… (to) increase the spirit of the event and get people hyped in another way,” Vela, a radio-television-film
freshman, said.

Biomedical engineering freshman JohnPeter Bekker said he attended “Bailando” on a whim, and while he is primarily a swing dancer, he enjoys all types of dance and looks forward to exploring Latin styles such as Salsa.

“After a dance, you just feel so good (because of) whatever positive body response your brain gives for exercise, plus the social interaction,” Bekker said.

Besides dancing, there were also snacks and a photo booth. Snacks included aguas frescas, nachos and bags of Hot Cheetos with melted cheese. Vela said the event is an opportunity to relax, introduce Mexican-American culture to others and embrace the high energy and natural competitiveness of dance.

“It’s always really exciting when we throw an event and see Latino people bring their other friends and they’re talking about their culture, and everyone is really interested,” Vela said. “It’s really heartwarming to see that.”

Vela has been interested in MACC for most of her life due to her father’s involvement with the organization in the 1980s. She said events such as “Bailando” are important because they allow her and other students to engage in Mexican-American culture and foster a sense
of community.

“We live on a really diverse campus, and not a lot of people come from diverse places,” Vela said. “So sharing culture and understanding other people’s culture helps you understand the other people around you more in general.”