Students can show off their salsa moves

By Gus Bode

Love is in the air or at least in the music. The second annual “Noche de Gala,” or Night of Elegance, will present a wide variety of Latin love music during the festivities.

Noche de Gala will take place tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Ballroom D of the Student Center. The activity will include a 10-member salsa orchestra, refreshments and the opportunity to salsa the night away. Salsa lessons were offered to students yesterday to brush up their dance skills for the big event; however, a quick lesson will be provided at the being of the evening for those who could not attend the previous practice session.

Since the event is called an Evening of Elegance, students are encouraged to come dressed to impress.

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“The event is semi-formal,” said Felipe Gomez, a graduate student and Multicultural Programs and Services assistant. “Gym shoes and jeans are discouraged.”

After last year’s Noche de Gala, sponsors are hoping to repeat the night’s success. Approximately 500 students, community members, faculty and staff attended last year.

“Last year was the first year we could put all the pieces together to make the event possible,” Gomez said. “Hopefully more and more people will attend, and the event will become bigger and bigger.”

The activity was sponsored by several SIUC Latino organizations. The primary organizer was Sigma Lambda Beta. They raised the majority of the money and were involved in a great amount of preparation for the salsa night.

“Sigma Lambda Beta provided about 90 percent of the money,” Gomez said. “This event is the highlight of Sigma Lambda Beta Week.”

Other organizations also worked hard to make the evening possible. Special Programs and Center Events conducted the majority of the publicity. They made sure Noche de Gala was listed in the Dawg Book agendas as well as on the green cups that were given to students in the Student Center the first week of school.

Multi-cultural Services and Programs also worked with both groups to ensure the evening’s success.

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“Latino organizations have worked together to bring this cultural event to you,” Julio Barrenzuela, a freshman in speech communication said. “This is the most anticipated salsa night of Latino Heritage Month.”

Barrenzuela, the president of the Latin American Student Association, played a big role in the event, even though his organization is not sponsoring this specific activity. He taught salsa lessons yesterday and will help instruct dancing tonight.

Members involved in the planning of the event are especially excited about the music selection for the evening. The salsa band, Caribbean Tropic, is a popular Latin band in their hometown, St. Louis.

“The music will represent various Latin cultures,” said Gomez. “Each countries’ cultures are unique from one another.”

Carol Ervin, the director of Multi-cultural Services and Programs, said he encourages students to take advantage of this opportunity to pick up another culture’s dance steps.

“It should be hot, exciting and fun,” said Ervin. “Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know how to salsa; it is a chance to learn.”

The Night of Elegance is not only a night of entertainment but a night of education as well.

“The night is a cultural lesson that will give people an idea of what music from different cultures sound like,” said Gomez. “It is an educational session about various Latin countries.”

Reporter Jennifer Rios can be reached at [email protected]

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