Bronchos Learned How to Baila

Bronchos Learned How to Baila

Students dance at the Hispanic American Student Associations ‘Salsa Under the Stars’ on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016 in the Nigh. The event offered salsa dancing lessons and nachos for those in attendance. Photo by Jessica Sanchez, The Vista. 

UCO’s Hispanic American Student Association (HASA) hosted their signature annual Salsa Under the Stars event Thursday in celebration of Hispanic culture.

HASA proudly brought Hispanic culture to UCO’s ballrooms Thursday evening, spreading cultural awareness and education through an inclusive and interactive event with salsa dancing, upbeat music and a nacho bar.

Felix Yanez, vice president of HASA, said, “It’s kind of like a program of unity where, you know, not everyone understands what the music is saying, but everybody can feel that same positive vibe, that sense of happiness.”

Carol Moore, graduate assistant for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) and advisor for HASA, was very excited for the event. “This event is really more of a celebratory event because in the ODI, for all of our organizations, the three points that we try to do are advocate, educate, and celebrate each of the minority organizations here,” she said.

Aside from the nachos, the event offered salsa dancing lessons from Alma Oklahoma, a dance team from the Salsa Maritza dance studio, followed by their performance of a bachata, a dance originated from the Dominican Republic. Miss Latina UCO, Carolina Guevara, was a participating member of the team.

Member Fernando Sarmiento led the lessons, guiding the attendees step-by-step through a basic salsa dance. He began with a brief history lesson.

The salsa originated during the 1970s in New York and was influenced by cultures from a number of Hispanic countries, such as Cuba, Puerto Rica and Columbia, and other dances, like cumbia, cha-cha and mambo.

Sarmiento taught the group L.A.-style salsa, a more street-style salsa, as  he called it, as opposed to New York-style.

Sarmiento guided students through the forward and backward movements of the salsa, and even added in spins and partner work. The dance was met with some difficulty, the spin specifically, but the crowd kept trying.

As he showed his students how to dance with a partner with Jesus Hernandez, another member of Alma Oklahoma, he joked, “I’m the lady, by the way. I know. I don’t look like one.”

Hernandez was excited to be part of the event. “It brings more awareness to the Latin dancing and to our culture,” he said.

Once Sarmiento thought the crowd had a handle on the salsa, with its front-to-back movement, he switched over to a quick bachata lesson with side-to-side movement.

The dance team performed a bachata once the lessons were over. Students watched the professionals in awe and cheered loudly for their teachers at the end. The dance floor was then open to anyone else that still wanted to dance for another hour.

Some students, like students Sidney Davis and Austin Jones who had an assignment for their Spanish class, came to the event for class-related reasons. Others, like freshmen Emmett Price, Rianna Brooks and Ciarra Kelly, came to the event simply because they loved to dance.

The audience wasn’t made of only students. Several parents with young children participated, as well.

HASA’s next upcoming event is Day of the Dead on Nov. 10. The event welcomes UCO students and UCO’s surrounding community to take part in the festivities.

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