Congas, merengue, salsa – a dance celebration

As students crowded into the Rathskellar, there was a loud chatter, followed by the rhythmic sounds of the congas, timbales and guiro.

This was the atmosphere on Thursday, Oct. 13 when the Latino band Grupo Caribe played an array of instruments to the salsa and merengue beats in celebration of Hispanic Heritage month, hosted by Uni?n Latina (UL), Lambda Sigma Upsilon and the College Union Board (CUB).

Julian Gomez, senior business administration and finance major and president of Lambda Sigma Upsilon, said he first heard Grupo Caribe in Edison’s Club Ritz. There, according to Gomez, they performed traditional Hispanic music classics.

Gomez said he was impressed by the energy in the room and it was at that moment he knew he had to get them to perform at the College.

After hearing them perform, Gomez said he approached members of CUB with the idea.

“One of CUB’s main objectives is to bring diverse music into the Rat, and what better way to do that than with a salsa band?” Kajal Vora, senior business administration major and CUB finance director, said.

Grupo Caribe is a four-person ensemble from New Jersey. According to band member Alex Volez, they like to call themselves the “experencia” because of all the talents they each bring to the group.

This is the band’s third time playing at the College. “We look forward to it every time,” Volez said. “The crowd is so energetic that it makes us play louder to match the energy in the room.”

Kerry Hutchinson, junior general business major, said he stopped by the Rat after class because of the catchy sound he heard across campus.

“I am not of Hispanic background and do not listen to this kind of music, but since I have been here, I enjoy it now,” he said.

The night began with a salsa performance by visitors from Rider University.

“Salsa is passionate and sexy,” Eliana Reyes, sophomore communication studies major and president of UL, said.

Before long, the floor was full of couples, all dancing to the merengue.

“I would describe the merengue as just feeling it in the hips” Gabriel Alonso, junior general business major, said.

In addition to the music, the organizations provided a bit of history for the audience about certain Latino countries.

“My idea was to read poetry originally, but then the suggestion came up to talk about the five countries that were liberated during this month,” Reyes said.

UL discussed Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Gomez said he is glad that more Hispanic events are being featured on campus.

“I think Hispanic awareness is limited in a college community, but I think it makes up for that by allowing such events to take place,” Gomez said.

“Today, for me, was all about having a good time and I did,” Roger Rojas Jr., junior accounting major, said. “It is good to be Hispanic.”