The Collegian
Friday, August 12, 2022

Mr. Latin America crowned at SALSA-hosted Noche Latino

The Spanish and Latino Student Alliance (SALSA) hosted its third annual Noche Latina at Tyler Haynes Commons Saturday night, providing its audience with authentic food, dancing and even a Mr. Latin America competition.

Isela Melendez, president of SALSA, said the event had been held to help bring awareness to campus about the Latino culture.

"We feel there isn't a lot of Latino presence on campus," she said, "and this is a fun way to meet other Latinos. We also want to promote awareness of the issues that Latinos face."

Melendez was born in El Salvador and moved to Arlington, Va., when she was six years old. She said that planning for the event had begun at the beginning of the semester in hopes of making it an event everyone could enjoy.

"There has been a lot of emailing and trying to contact people," she said. "It takes a lot of planning. Basically, it is a fun-filled night with lots of performance.

"This includes dances, such as bachata, salsa and cumbia, as well as singing. But, the big thing that everyone is looking forward to is the Mr. Latin American competition."

Five contestants, representing different Latin American countries where they were born, took turns answering questions, showing off a talent and posing in a swimsuit to determine the winner. Mr. Cuba wowed the judges, who were a group of professors, and was awarded the title and a $100 gift card.

Melendez said that dancing and music in general was a large part of the Latino culture, which is why so much of the event had been focused on the many different types of dances that existed.

The food was ordered from La Milpa, which was selected by the members of SALSA after a taste testing, to give attendees the full experience.

Blanca Flores, who helped plan the event, said there had been a number of different dishes, including Spanish rice, yucca (fried fruit), gorditas and quesadillas. At the end of the meal, there was a Tres Leches cake, which translates to Three Milk cake.

Flores moved from Mexico City to North Carolina when she was five years old. She said she had mainly wanted the event to promote Latino culture.

"We do it in a fun way that brings people out to see it," she said. "I think it's a great event; it has always had such a great student turn-out. It is a great way for everyone to experience the culture."

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Overall, Flores said she thought the event had, yet again, been a success and she hoped more people would want to become involved in SALSA.

"We want to encourage people to join SALSA to learn more about the Latino culture," she said. "You don't have to be Latino to join; anyone is welcome to join."

Contact reporter Charlotte Brackett at charlotte.brackett@richmond.edu

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