UT-Austin students celebrate Valentine’s Day early with ‘Bailando’

Will Brooks

Latin rhythms filled the William C. Powers, Jr. Student Activity Center Ballroom on Thursday evening as students danced at Bailando, an event hosted by the Mexican American Culture Committee.

Bailando, which translates to “dancing”, is one of the organization’s signature events, event organizer Nayeli Sanchez said. The Mexican American Culture Committee is a committee within Campus Events + Entertainment. Despite the group’s association with Mexican Americans, committee member Suly Ramirez said the organization welcomes everybody.

“Mexican doesn’t really define who we are,” government sophomore Ramirez said. “We’re not just a Mexican community, we’re a Latinx community. We didn’t want to use Hispanic because that excludes people.”

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Music boomed over the loudspeaker as the DJ played different Latin music styles such as merengue and cumbia. The music from the ballroom could be heard throughout the building. Some students, such as undeclared freshman Mellina Zavala and her friend Ana Molina, an international relations and global studies freshman, were studying at the Student Activity Center when they heard the music playing from down the hallway. Zavala said she was reminded of home.

“I always go to dances back home,” Zavala said. “I need a break (from studying).”

Molina said she was surprised to hear the Latin music coming from down the hall.

“I guess you don’t really get to hear it often on campus,” Molina said. “There’s a lot of English speakers and English music, so getting to hear this reminds me of home.”

While some students sat and chatted with one another, others took the opportunity to dance.

“Our people love to dance,” Ramirez said. “We love to talk to each other, we’re all happy in the same environment.”

However, Sanchez, an advertising and government sophomore, said people who couldn’t dance had nothing to fear.

“It’s more of a free-spirited event,” Sanchez said. “You can dance however you want. Nobody is going to judge you. You’re learning.”  

Other students used a photo booth, ate snacks and took the opportunity to make Valentine cards.

Jazmin Rivera, a health and society junior, said the event’s proximity to Valentine’s Day made it a popular event for students.

“I think that more people will enjoy the fact that they can go out and have fun not just in a romantic relationship but in a platonic relationship,” Rivera said.

Editor's note: This story was updated to correct the years of sources.