Tostones, bachata y reggaetón.
What more could you ask for on a Friday night? In honor of Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) recently threw its second annual “On My Block Party,” a campus-wide celebration of Hispanic/Latinx culture. Held at The Oreo and Café Nova, the event drew in hundreds of attendees to feast, watch performances, and dance to Latin hits. Students wore and waved their flags proudly as they represented their countries. From Mexico to Colombia, countries from across the globe united and celebrated together.
The main attraction of the event was undoubtedly the food. Despite the cold weather, hundreds of people stood in line at the buffet and food truck to taste some of their favorite dishes. The food included pollo guisado, tamales, pernil and more—all of which reminded LASO members of their heritage. Dominican Republic native and Sophomore César Núñez Rodríguez noted, “The food is one of the best parts of the event. It always reminds me of my grandma’s cooking. For some of us who only return home every few years, the food is a way to remember and appreciate who we are.” LASO’s Executive Board agrees. They spent a year planning the event, placing heavy consideration into which food would best represent countries across the world. They recognize that in Hispanic/Latinx culture, food is more than just something to eat. It embodies a history that has shaped their culture. It’s an expression of identity and community. It’s a piece of home. While LASO wanted Hispanic/Latinx attendees to feel connected to their roots, they welcomed individuals of all ethnicities to join the celebration.
After indulging on maduros, people crowded inside Café Nova to watch performances from Latin sorority Lambda Theta Alpha and the Pángü Chapter of Lambda Sigma Upsilon. Proudly wearing their letters, both groups performed dance and stroll routines as their sisters and brothers cheered them on.
Temple University’s dance organization “Esencia Latina” spiced up the night with salsa dancing that had audience members moving their feet to the music. To cap off the performances, Manny Chacón, a dancer and member of the Zawadi Chapter of Lambda Sigma Upsilon, performed an energetic step routine. His freedom on the dance floor displayed his passion for dance and the Latinx community, especially as he engaged the audience to clap and stomp along with him.
When performances ended, colorful strobe lights filled the room and the audience flooded the dance floor. Junior Jaivian Gaetan, also known as DJ DonJavi, kept the energy high throughout the night with his music. When asked about the role music plays in his heritage, Gaetan noted, “Our music connects us with our history and our roots. Latin music is telling of Latinx heritage, African heritage, Taino heritage and so on.” He played a mix of reggaetón, reggae, bachata, salsa, merengue and hip hop. The music had people dancing on their feet all evening—a sign that no one parties like LASO. “A lot of our music’s messages are centered around food, dance, the immigrant story, the struggles of our homeland, and stories of love…I think it’s just hard to tell our story without music,” Gaetan said.
The celebration of Hispanic/Latinx culture is ongoing with LASO. From its meetings to its Family Dinners on campus, LASO makes every month Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month. Whether you were born and raised in a Hispanic/Latinx household, or are simply interested in learning more about the culture, LASO welcomes everyone to be part of their family. Together, our differences will make the University a more inclusive space for all—one toston at a time.