Latin culture explodes

The fifth annual Explosion Latina took place Friday in Brower Student Center in front of a packed audience of more than 200.

Explosion Latina is an event sponsored by Unión Latina, an organization founded in the ’70s by a group of Puerto Rican students attending the College. Today, Unión Latina is run by president Angelika Gutierrez, sophomore seven-year medical student and international studies major.

“Explosion Latina is a time for students from both Unión Latina and those who aren’t to showcase their talent,” Gutierrez said. She, along with the executive board of Unión Latina, have been planning the event since the end of August.

The student showcase, hosted by Oliver Encarnacion, senior English major, and Eliana Reyes, College alumna, was open to all members of the College community.

“We sent out e-mails to every club on campus to try to get people involved,” Gutierrez said.

The show consisted of nine performances, ranging from drumming and poetry to singing and dancing. The first performance included TCNJ Taiko, a new campus organization skilled in the Japanese drumming tradition of Taiko.

“The setup of each performance was great,” Gutierrez said. “Taiko was an explosive way to start the event and then we moved into spoken word and dance. We had such a variety with each performance . . . they were able to build on each other to make it a great event.”

Explosion Latina also featured the Treblemakers, the College’s only female a capella group created during the spring semester of last year. This group of talented young women performed two songs, including a spin on the classic, “It’s Raining Men.”

Halfway through the show, a variety of Latino dishes were served, including chicken and rice and empanadas.

“The purpose of Explosion Latina,” Gutierrez said, “is to raise Latino awareness on campus and expose the College community to Latino cuisine.”

Unión Latina members also took the spotlight during the Explosion, with performances by sophomores Sofia Ochoa, biology/accounting major, and Kristina Mercado, fine arts major. Ochoa, the fundraising chair, performed a cultural dance called Festejo, a festive Peruvian dance. Mercado dazzled the crowd with a beautiful a capella rendition of two Spanish praise songs.

According to Unión Latina board members, Explosion Latina exceeded all expectations.

“We were so concerned with the logistics of the night,” Gutierrez said. She admitted that scheduling such an event is not easy. Despite this, Unión Latina plans to hold another Explosion next year.

“It’s becoming a tradition,” Gutierrez said. “Everyone loves it and everyone enjoys it.”