When students walked into the dimly lit Cabaret on Thursday, September 19th, they were immediately hit with the festive spirit. Live Latin music blared throughout the room and encouraged attendees to hit the dance floor while the spicy smells of traditional Dominican, Mexican, and Cuban food filled the air. As the band continued, several students took to the dance floor, spinning and twirling in the traditional styles of salsa and merengue.
The event, The Different Flavors of Latin America was put on by the organization Amigos in conjunction with Multicultural Student Affairs.
Amigos is a multicultural organization on campus that aims to create awareness of Latin culture on campus and to serve Latin communities throughout Boston.
Through the food, three different countries were represented: Mexico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic.
The Mexican table featured traditional snacks such as tamales and gorditas, the Cuban table boasted empanadas and papas rellenos, and the Dominican table had plantains and kipes, among many other dishes. Trays upon trays of food were brought out as the event went on, making sure everyone who attended was treated to the traditional feast that is the cornerstone of Latin cultures. The delicious smells and the variety of options made students go back for seconds and thirds.
“The food is really good. And I haven’t even tried half of what they have yet,” said sophomore visual and media arts major Lucy Phillips.
Many students said the food was their main reason for coming, as they piled their plates high with fried plantains and empanadas. Some craved the traditional Latin food from their hometowns, while others wanted to try something new.
“I’m really homesick and I miss my mom’s cooking, so I really wanted some traditional Mexican food,” said Yamel Garcia, a freshman film major. “And this is just as good as my mom’s.”
Senior journalism major Andres Acosta also said he came to get a taste of traditional food.
“I’m Puerto Rican and it’s really hard to find good Latin food in Boston. I thought this would be a good way to get a taste of home,” he said.
The organizers of the event said they wanted to feature the importance of food in Latin culture, and decided to put this event on because of this importance.
“Food is a huge part of our culture, and we think that it really brings people together,” said junior marketing communication major Shantal Erlich, a member of Amigos. “We wanted to bring the spirit of a huge family dinner to Emerson.”
“There’s just a really good vibe in the air. Everyone seems so happy and into it,” Garcia said.
Another reason Amigos said they chose to put on the event was to teach Emerson students a little bit more about the Latin culture.
“All of the different Latin countries have such different styles of food, and a lot of people don’t realize that,” said junior journalism major Ana Vivas. “We wanted to showcase these different styles.”
In addition to the food, the event also featured live music by Latin band Fantasia, which played many different styles such as salsa, cha-cha, and merengue.
Though the beginning of the event seemed to be reserved for eating, it wasn’t long before the dance floor was full, with several students showing off the traditional dances. Impromptu partnerships were formed as dancers twirled and cha-chad their way across the dance floor, inspiring cheers and hollers from both the band and the audience.
Members of Amigos incorporated music not just to add excitement, but also because it is an important part of the culture, according to Vivas.
“Music is such an important part of Latin culture, and food and music often go hand in hand: We really wanted that feeling of a traditional Latin party, and this is what it’s like,” said Vivas.
The Different Flavors of Latin America was second in a series of events that Amigos is putting on as part of Latin Heritage Month. Later in the month their events will include the panel Latinos Shaping America, spoken word artist Carlos Andrés Gomez, a poet, and a dance class teaching traditional styles like salsa, merengue, and bachata.
Students filtered in and out throughout the event’s two hour duration. Both students and Amigos members said they felt the event was a success.
The organization was particularly happy that it showcased their culture and exposed students to new food and music.
“It went great,” said Vivas. There was a really good amount of people and we ran out of food!”