Latin rhythms filled the night air as students and visitors gathered this past Saturday night for the Spanish and Latino Students Association’s 16th annual Tropicana dinner and dance. Almost 400 people attended the event, which is the culminating event of a week of Tropicana activities. The dance, which was held in the Douglass Dining Center, was a good way for current and prospective students to experience Latino culture.
SALSA publicity chair and freshman Julian Belizaire said that he believes Tropicana is one of the highlights of spring at UR and that Tropicana is “more than an event – it’s a week of spreading awareness of the Spanish and Latino community.”
Tropicana began with a dinner in the Hirst Lounge for 100 people. The dinner was catered by the Meliora, and has been a part of the Tropicana festivities for all 16 years. The dance featured live music by Latin singer Mala Fe. The lead singer’s unique and occasionally raspy voice echoed across the room as students merengued to the beat. Most students at the event were familiar with Latin music, but for many this was their first introduction to the band. This was Mala Fe’s first appearance in the Rochester area.
Tropicana has traditionally occurred during the Minority Visitation Program weekend, and has been used to introduce prospective students to cultural life on campus and SALSA. Belizaire attended Tropicana as a prospective student, and said that it was one of the things that inspired him to join SALSA when he arrived here. “I heard from some pre-frosh that they were really interested [in SALSA],” Belizaire said.
Tropicana is not only a good way for prospective students to get informed about cultural life on campus, but it also benefits current students. The dance allows students to break out of their normal weekend routine and engage a cultural and musical style that they may not usually experience.
Other events for the week of Tropicana included tunnel painting, dance lessons and a visit by comedian Eric Nieves. The tunnel painting was a good way for SALSA to bond as a group, and “take time off from our busy schedules,” Belizaire said.
Dance lessons were held on April 11 to prepare people for Tropicana. Salsa, meringue, rhumba and flamenco were some of the dances taught in anticipation of the dance. There was a good turnout for the lessons, and participants included current students, visiting prospective students and even a few of their parents.
DeSantis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.