By: Kristopher Aponte
A festive dancing event was hosted on Oct. 7 by the Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity Inc. and Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority Inc. called Bailando con Las Cussies y Los Lambdas.
The event was co-directed by Jessica Rodriguez, a professional dance instructor and now a professor at Rider.
Rodriguez has traveled nationally and internationally for salsa conferences with a private team called Art in Motion. Her teaching career took off in the early 2000s in a dancing studio in Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania where she instructed. Rodriguez said she taught “street style Latin dancing … the more authentic and social style of dancing, not the typical ballroom dance.”
The event consisted of Rider students getting together and learning about the culture and history of bachata, salsa and merengue. Students then danced the bachata, salsa and merengue the traditional way with a partner.
This event fell during Hispanic Heritage Month, which recognizes the Hispanic, Latinx and Chicanx communities in the United States.
Junior entrepreneurship and marketing major and President of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity Esteban Cepeda said “This month is a big deal for us, especially how we are the face of Latino men on campus. We have to set an example for other latinos on and off-campus.”
Cepeda added, “Being involved on campus brings a load of work to my plate but executing this event was a distraction from the world and we were all able to have some fun.”
Junior global supply chain and business data analytics major Noah Bernstein and Natalie Munguia, a junior public relations major, were two of the students that helped execute the event.
Bernstein said after the event, “COVID really took the whole college environment away from all of us so doing this event was a big deal for us. Students finally participated in an engaging in-person event that brought out a bunch of smiles and laughs.”
When the participants took the dance floor, it sparkled the entire Rider campus. Students broke out in laughter.
“It filled my heart with joy seeing the outcome we had,” Munguia said.
While campus life gets a bit overwhelming, students tend to forget their culture and history.
Cepeda said, “These events aren’t in place for students to be students, they are for students to step out of their student life and be themselves. Hosting this event helped me understand the history of bachata. Even though I grew up listening to it every day growing up as a Dominican and Puerto Rican, you never truly understand where it came from.”
While co-directing, Rodriguez said, “Being able to be part of this event is amazing. Seeing the students enjoy themselves and educate themselves is great. … I found my love for instructing here at Rider, and events like these makes me love it even more.”
Kristopher Aponte is a brother of the Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity