Brianna Mulligan

Tropicoso and Son del Caribe, two major Midwest salsa bands, perfom Thursday night at Millett Hall.

Millett Hall was transformed into a dance club Thursday night when Miami University hosted Latin Dance Night.

The event; sponsored by the Center for American and World Cultures (CAWC), the Elizabeth Wakeman Henderson Foundation, and MidwestLatino.com; hosted two major Midwest salsa bands, Tropicoso and Son del Caribe, for a night of dancing and dining, Caribbean style.

“The night is an excuse for students go out and dance and just have fun,” said David Sheldrick, an assistant director for the Miami Performing Arts Series and a coordinator for the event.

Despite a downpour of freezing rain and icy temperatures, Miami and Oxford community members were numerous at the event. Coat racks were full of winter jackets and scarves as attendees danced along to the tropic style music being played.

Two popular Latino bands performed the festive music. Tropicoso is one of Cincinnati’s premier Latin ensembles and has received awards including Best World/Ethnic/Reggae in 2002 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards and the 2003 Cammy for Best World Beat Band.

Son Del Caribe is another Cincinnati salsa band, led by one of Miami’s very own faculty, Jaime Morales, an associate music professor.

The night included free dance lessons, taught by a member of Topicoso. Attendees learned traditional salsa moves for half an hour before the bands kicked the night into full motion.

Latin Dance Night was open to anyone in the Oxford and Miami communities, with ticket prices ranging from $18 for adults and $9 for students and youths. More than 350 tickets were sold before the event.

Attendants ranged in all ages, from Oxford middle school students to Miami students and faculty.

Elizabeth Stanley, 13, from Somerville and Laura Jones, 14, from Oxford went to support their teacher.

“She asked us to come, so we did,” Laura said. “It sounded fun.”

“We went to the Latin festival in town and it seemed pretty interesting, so we came here,” added Elizabeth.

Others attended for the sole purpose of dancing.

“I just love to dance,” Miami sophomore Becky Williams said before hitting the floor to perform some salsa. “I know how to swing dance, so I hope some of that crosses over.”

First-year Jessica Schaper also loves dancing and wanted to seize this opportunity.

“I went to lots of salsa dancing lessons in high school, like one a month,” she said. “When I found the opportunity to go to one at Miami, I jumped at the chance.”

Food was also available, with Latino foods being prepared by Caroline Catering. Taco de peseados, carrie a sada, and various Mexican sodas including Marizanna and Colombiana were sold separately.

“I think the food was good,” first-year Andrew Boyer said. “I mean, they probably could’ve done a better job shaping my burrito, but besides that it was really good.”

Coordinators hope the event was fun for students and community members, allowing them a glimpse of another society.

“We hope they had a good time,” Shedlrick said. “Secondly, we hope they experienced a little of the

Latin culture.”

This is the second time in three years that the Performing Arts Series has hosted Latin Dance Night. In 2006, almost 700 people attended and only one band performed.

“With so many things going on, it’s hard to do something every year,” Sheldrick said. “Even now we don’t know if this (Latin Dance Night) is something Oxford can sustain every year.”

This year, the event lasted from 7 to 11 p.m., allowing those who attended four full hours of dance.

“I had lots and lots of fun,” Schaper said.

“So much of what we do is traditional,” Sheldrick said. “It’s fun to have something different.”

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