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ALAS celebrates "Calle Ocho" with gusto

by Christopher Suarez | copy editor
Tue, Sep 25th 2018 01:00 pm
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At this point into the semester most cultural clubs have already had their kickoff event. Typically clubs host their kickoff events during the first two weeks of                       the semester. 

But, the Association for Latinx American students (ALAS) decided to hold out on having its kickoff until later on in the month. On Sept. 22, ALAS held their annual “Calle Ocho” event to start the year right.

“Calle Ocho” took place in Commissary Park and started at 2 p.m. Despite the cool weather and bleeky skies, the all-female e-board confidently held the first event according to plan, and ALAS transformed Commissary park into their very  own personal stage. The gates were draped with flags of Hispanic countries around the world. In the middle of the flags, ALAS was spelled out in gold balloons. 

The outdoor venue was decorated with colorful balloons, table covers, games and piñatas hung up on the rims and surrounding gates. To cap off the decorations, the group had a bouncy house where students were welcome to go and act like kids again.

The event started at 2 p.m., but guests didn’t start showing up until 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. For a couple of hours  many students mingled and met new people. Some students were taking it to the basketball courts and playing       pick-up games. 

However, it couldn’t be an event without music. Commissary Park was given life through the Spanish music blasting on the speaker. Guests were able to hear Spanish music from every Hispanic country. Music like salsa, bachata, dembow and more was on repeat throughout. With music blasting and people mingling, it was a good start to the event.

As more people trickled in, you were able to see more new faces. Many organizations from Rochester, such as the Spanish and Latino Students’ Association (SALSA) from University of Rochester and Latin American Student Association (LASA) from the Rochester Institute of Technology were present. Greek organizations from Rochester also showed up to the event. Lambda Upsilon Lambda from the University of Rochester was one such organization. Brockport’s very own Lambda Sigma Upsilon also attended the event.

Despite the lack of Brockport Greek life and cultural club representation at the event, with only a couple groups showing up, the event had a good attendance. ALAS President, senior Heidilis Robles, enjoyed all the new faces who supported.

“Our biggest success is bringing new people in, I met a lot of new faces. Faces that I have never seen around campus that are students here,” Robles said. “There was about 15-20 new students that I met during this event.” 

The event continued with a watermelon eating contest. Students were given a big piece of watermelon and each contestant had to see who could eat it faster. Each contestant had their hands behind their backs and the competition was tight. 

Then the event really got interesting with the dance performances that followed. University of Rochester’s Lambda Upsilon Lambda, performed first.

The group performed its routine and brought some of their University of Rochester swagger to Brockport. 

But the main event was the ALAS “Frikitona” dance team. The dance team performed several pieces, including a salsa piece that immensely lit up the stage. Dance coordinator, senior Sherisse Rodriguez, worked hard to bring these dances to life.

“It took me about two weeks to come up with the dance. Then it took me about three weeks to actually teach it,” Rodriguez said. “During the second week, we got new people so we had to go back and reteach the whole routine.” 

After the dance performances, ALAS gave everybody what they’d been waiting for. A vast variety of food was served to the guests. From rice and beans to chicken and beef, the club brought them a good taste of classic   Hispanic culture. 

The event set the tone for what’s to come for the club. Marketing director, junior Paloma Santana-Viera, felt like they had to fight the odds to make “Calle Ocho” possible.

“We had to hope that the weather stayed warm enough for our event to happen,” Viera said. “But we got it done.” 

 

csuar1@brockport.edu | @chrissuarez0428