Wednesday, March 20—Casa Latinx hosted Noche De Fuego, or Night of Fire, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Ballroom A of the Campus Center. The event had an Eventbrite early bird fee of $2 and was $5 for guests who arrived at the door. The goal of the night was to show guests how to perform two traditional—but timeless—Latin dances with style and confidence.
Attendees were greeted by colorful lights and a dance floor as well as some music from Jouan Joussaint, professionally known as DJ Cassanova, who is a student at the University of Massaschusetts Boston and freelance DJ. The first lesson of the night actually came from Joussaint; he came from behind the turntables to teach attendees bachata. Bachata is a form of music with origins in the Dominican Republic. The crowd was split into two groups: leaders and followers. There were demonstrations for foot placement and hip movement, as well as general motion and rhythm. After everyone was acquainted with the steps, they were then allowed to partner with the person directly across from them. Groups were taught how to formally connect to their partners and begin dancing.
After the first lesson, a 15-minute intermission was held where drinks and food were served. Then the next lesson began, this time from Guerrero, an instructor from UMass Boston's own Sabor Latin Dance Club, an on-campus organization which provides free dance lessons for UMass Boston faculty and students. Guerrero took to the floor to teach guests salsa, which was perhaps one of the more difficult parts of the night for a few guests, many of whom confused movements and stepped with the wrong footing. However, once everyone was comfortable enough with the steps they were then instructed to dance with the instructor who alternated between the different movements. At the end of the salsa lesson, the dance floor was cleared for a performance for the students and members. Sabor managed to put on a near-flawless performance despite it being the first for some of them. Sabor hosts dance lessons free of charge every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from noon to 2 p.m. at the Harbor Art Gallery in McCormack Hall.
In the last hour of the event, the dance floor opened up so that participants were allowed to show everything that they had learned. By the end of the night, there were approximately 50 attendees—each taking turns on the dance floor, grooving out to different Latinx artists such as Xtreme, Romeo Santos, Esteban Mariano and more.
Edward Mejia, current coordinator for Casa Latinx, said that the event took about two months to plan. This was his first event of the semester as acting coordinator. Mejia says that the event taught him a lot about statistics and planning—both things he intends to get better at as he spends more time in his position as coordinator. He says Noche De Fuego is the appetizer for a larger event happening towards the end of April titled Un Pueblo Unido, or A United Town, which is a larger-scale cultural heritage show aimed at showing UMass Boston the cultural narrative that spans across different countries and generations. Unlike Noche De Fuego, Un Pueblo Unido is expected to be a more formal affair. Mejia hopes that the event will draw more attention to Casa as well as enlighten prospective members on the activities that the organisation is able to offer. Casa Latinx holds their weekly meetings from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursdays.