Dancing the night away

By Gus Bode

Fraternity sponsors popular Salsa event for the second year

Diversity was apparent not only in the range of age and ethnic backgrounds of attendants of Noche de Gala but also in the various levels of skill.

Some such as Pomona resident Aur Beck, a self-proclaimed ‘Salsa addict,’ make Salsa dancing part of their weekly routines.


Some such as Jenn Giuliano and Jeff Chemasko had never really experienced Salsa dancing but had heard positive things about the form of dance and decided to attend the event.

Instead of attempting to discover their newfound rhythm among the large group of attendants, the couple practiced beforehand in the lounge before tackling the crowd.

Chemasko and Giuliano were among many students and community members who came to the Student Center Friday evening to enjoy Noche de la Gala. This was the second year for the event sponsored by Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity, which featured live music from El Caribe Tropical. After a positive reception the previous year, members were once again satisfied to see a heavy turnout for the young event.

“It’s [the turnout] just as good as last year, if not better,” said Jeff Borrlongan, a sophomore in business management from Chicago. “There are people of all ages. Professors are here, high school students, people from different schools. It’s not just SIU students.”

Sebastian, the smallest attendant of the event, spent the evening peering around the ballroom. The six-month-old baby used all his senses as he tried to absorb everything from the high-pitched screech of the trumpet to the variety of flowers that appeared in the hair and in particular the floral prints of many women’s dresses.

His parents, Jessica and Tony Negron, said they attended Noche de Gala because the event supported the Puerto Rican community in addition to promoting diversity.

Carbondale resident Judy Greer ventured to Noche de Gala to take part in the rarely offered form of dance, one of the many forms she participates in.


“It’s [salsa dancing] great fun and a very soulful thing, ” said Greer, who said she participates in Latin and ballroom dancing, among other forms. “I just think more people need to dance.”

Beck agreed more people should show an interest in dance, particularly Salsa. He said he thought the reason people were so receptive to the type of dance was the sophisticated feeling that comes along with it.

“It’s classy,” Beck said. “People dress classy. People act classy.”

Everyone dances it differently. You can dance to it slow or you can dance to it fast.”

The variety involved, not to mention the absence of an admission fee, were two reasons attendants struggled to maneuver their way back to their tables, and the wooden floors of the ballroom were rarely vacant. Even in between songs, people remained on the floor, socializing and waiting for the rhythm to begin again.

Octavio Flores, vice president of Sigma Lambda Beta, worked closely with several groups to put the event together, including Multicultural Programs and Services. Similar to other members, he was satisfied with the turnout and hoped the past two years would be good indication of turnout for upcoming years.

“We’ve had a great turnout, everyone’s happy and they seems to be having fun,” said Flores, a senior in mechanical engineering from Chicago. “The college experience shouldn’t only be about studying books. It should also be about learning other people’s culture.”

Reporter Jessica Yorama can be reached at [email protected]