Students celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 17:10
Last Wednesday, Roosevelt University students put on their dancing shoes, ready to move their hips and have a dance blast - with a touch of Latin. Loud, live music could be heard from Congress Lounge as students learned traditional Latin dances, ate cultural food, and made custom piñatas. Students Programming for Enrichment, Enlightenment, and Development (SPEED), the university’s activities board, and the Association of Latin American Students co-sponsored the event to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month.
What started as National Hispanic Week in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson, expanded under President Ronald Reagan to cover a 30-day period in 1988. Now Americans annually observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America, according to the Library of Congress. Sept. 15 is significant because it’s the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
Latin dancing instructors Touba Selph and Andrés Meneses encouraged student participation. Selph danced the day away with students in brown sparkled heels, black pants, a red-and-black swirl shirt, and a loosely fitted black scarf. She’s been dancing since age 4 and currently teaches private and public lessons in salsa, merengue, cha cha cha, cumbia, and tango, at Latin Street Dancing, a premier salsa dance studio and Latin entertainment company in Chicago. Meneses, the owner of Latin Street Dancing, also danced the day away in black pants and a black-and-white shirt.
“Dancing is something that everyone can do and everyone enjoys, and I wanted to share what I know with others,” Selph said. “It is very important for everyone to know a little bit about other cultures.”
Both Selph and Meneses taught steps and explained various types of dancing, like the salsa. After students understood the basic steps, the five-member band played traditional Latin music in accordance with the steps.
Selph said that learning a variety of dances is important because the world is a mix of many backgrounds, and it never hurts to learn something new.
“We’re a global society these days, and we can’t just be closed off, especially in the United States and colleges,” she said.
Verna Burton, a Roosevelt undergraduate student, participated in a solo salsa dance session and said she loved the multicultural celebration available to students.
“I grew up with music, and I studied piano, flute, trumpet, drums, and the saxophone, and I love the natural rhythm, “ she said.
“[This event] gives me an opportunity to see the different food and experience, really, the different dancing styles,” she added.
Learning various Latin dances not only benefited students by exposing them to a new culture, but also allowed them to meet new people, especially when dancing in pairs.
Selph said the event definitely brought campus awareness to Hispanic culture.
For those that want to keep their hips moving just in time for Halloween, the dance studio will offer bachata and salsa lessons on Oct. 26.
1, 2, cha cha cha! Tweet and tell us your favorite Latin dance moves @RUTORCH.