Friday nights in Belton can be muy tranquilo, but on March 8, the Spanish Club brought a bit of Latin spice to campus life.
The group hosted Salsa Night, an evening filled with dance lessons and Mexican appetizers. The club also collected gently used clothing donations for Helping Hands.
Dr. Rubí Ugofsky-Méndez, the adviser for the Spanish Club, said the organization averages between eight and 10 members.
The club prepared several types of Mexican food for the attendees to snack on, including tamales, chips and queso.
Junior public relations major and president Samantha Garza was excited to help host the salsa lessons. She and the rest of the club advertised through chapel, MyCampus, Facebook and word of mouth. They hoped all the publicity would bring a good turnout.
“Last year, we probably had 40 to 50 people,” she said. “There were a lot of international students.”
The dance lessons were provided by senior Spanish major Julio Hinkson, a student from Panama. When he heard the club was looking for a new salsa instructor, he gladly offered to help out.
“I first started last fall,” he said. “They were looking for somebody to teach Spanish dance — salsa, merengue — and I fit in that place, so I decided to do it.”
Hinkson grew up dancing and enjoys sharing his talent with others.
“I love doing it,” he said. “If somebody wanted to learn, I don’t mind teaching them. I don’t go to clubs, so my pastime is to teach people the right way, not just any way.”
Freshman Tucker Saxton was one of the first students to arrive at the Lord Conference Center for lessons. An avid country dancer, he looked forward to learning a new style.
“I love two-stepping,” he said. “I’ve never done salsa before.”
Saxton and several friends joined nearly 50 other students and faculty members for a night filled with Hispanic culture.
Excitement grew as pairs gathered closely around Hinkson to watch each dance step demonstration. The dancers then stepped back again to try the moves on their own and receive one-on-one help from the instructor.
Hinkson gave instructions on three different styles of Latin dance.
“I did salsa, bachata, and then I did merengue,” he explained. “Bachata is basically a slow dance … salsa is a beat of six and merengue is a faster beat.”
Ugofsky-Méndez was delighted to see students participate in the event. She enjoyed watching and taking pictures as everyone figured out each step.
Freshman biology major Sahana Gollapalli heard about the event from Garza. She thought the dance lessons were entertaining. The one downside to the evening? The lack of partners.
“I wish there were more guys because of the whole girl-to-guy thing,” Gollapalli said.
Despite waiting on a partner from time to time, she enjoyed the lessons overall.
“I love it,” Gollapalli said. “It’s really fun. We should do (salsa nights) more often.”
Hinkson agreed the evening was a hit. Though it was his fourth time to instruct students for the Spanish Club, he thinks this was one of the best yet.
“I think it’s almost better because I had more people this time, and there was more focus on what I was doing.”
After the dancing came to an end and everyone went home, Garza posted a note on the event’s Facebook page.
“Thank you to everyone who came out and contributed to a great night!”