A Look at Events for Hispanic Heritage Month

Culture and heritage are a huge part of someone’s identity. The celebration of culture can be seen in each carefully prepared comfort food, every detailed stitch of the traditional clothing and felt in each beat of music passed down for generations. As the school year picks up, Marquette welcomes the first cultural heritage month of the school year.

Sept. 15 marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, and students are developing plenty of ways to celebrate. Between lotería nights and dance workshops, there are opportunities for every kind of person.  

The on-campus Latin dance group Paso a Paso is offering a Bachata workshop Sept. 24 at 5 p.m. Bachata is a style of dance that hails from the island of the Dominican Republic.  

“We are teaching … the steps in the bachata, the counts, how to turn, how to work with a partner, how to dance with yourself,” said Mya Ruiz-Diaz, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. “It’s all social dancing, so if you were to go to a family function, a party, any social event you’ll be able to know how to dance with a person or just by yourself.” 

The group was started in 2019 by Marquette alumni, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they weren’t able to achieve all of the goals they had originally set. One of the primary plans was to create a team for performances and Latin dance competitions in the area.

“We wanted to do the Salsa Congress in Chicago, but by the time we were learning our routines spring break happened and then we didn’t come back,” Ruiz-Diaz said.

The Chicago International Salsa Congress is a competition celebrating all forms of Latin dance and music while featuring participants from all over the world.

Hopefully, these workshops will inspire others to join the group and open themselves up to a world of dance. If all goes well Ruiz-Diaz has plans for beginning a competing team. 

“By next semester, [we’ll be] trying to figure out if anyone is interested in being in routines or being in the start of creating a dance group,” Ruiz-Diaz said. 

Even though they will be teaching Latin dances, Paso a Paso is open to anyone and everyone. 

“Our goal is to really diversify our group because we are a Latin American dance club but we do want to make it open and included to anyone,” Ruiz-Diaz said. “You don’t have to be Hispanic to learn Hispanic dance moves.”

Following the Bachata workshop, Sigma Lambda Beta will be hosting Fiesta de Noche in collaboration with the Latin American Student Organization (LASO). The event will take place Sept. 25 at the Ray and Kay Eckstein Commons from 8 p.m. until midnight. Luis Navarrete, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences as well as a brother of Sigma Lambda Beta, is extremely excited for the upcoming party. 

“We’re going to have free food like rice, Mexican rice, beans, Puerto Rican rice and chicken fajitas,” Navarrete said. “We’re going to have a DJ … Then we also have performances by a local dance group from Milwaukee, they will be doing traditional Aztec dances.”

Due to the year missed by the pandemic, organizations are eager to get the event back up and running. Fiesta de Noche has a rich history full of joy, fun and friendship that goes back for years, almost back to when Sigma Lambda Beta was founded in 1998. 

“Originally, it started out as a cookout, like, just one little grill and they cooked for people and their friends, outside in the middle of the day. Then it started to evolve, you know, as more people started telling their friends,” Navarrete said.  

To help out with the unforeseen circumstances of COVID-19, Sigma Lambda Beta is hosting the event this year along with LASO.

“We are partnering with LASO this year to help cover some of the cost but also they have a lot of people that are willing to participate in this event,” Navarrete said. 

Fiesta del Noche has a reputation for having a fun-filled atmosphere. By the end of the night, the smoke trails away into the stars and the laughter and music ring out through campus.

“I think one of my favorite memories is definitely working the grill,” Navarrete said. “It was exhausting and I smelled like smoke and charcoal, but as soon as we were done … we started dancing and just had a good time.” 

Fiesta de Noche is only one of many events happening during Hispanic Heritage month. There is something for everyone to experience, and they are all rich in culture, knowledge and celebration. More info about gatherings and cultural months can be found on Marquette’s website.

This story was written by Izzy Fonfara Drewel. She can be reached at isabella.fonfaradrewel@marquette.edu.