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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Puerto Rico Beyond Reggaeton: Amigos holds Latin Heritage Month Celebration

Madla Walsh
A line of Bomba dancers and Emerson students dance with each other in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and in honor of Puerto Rican culture. The performers hand out floral patterned skirts and pull students in from the audience to join them as they close out the night.

On Wednesday, over 40 Emerson students gathered at the Bill Bordy Theater to dance and celebrate Puerto Rican culture during the Puerto Rico Beyond Reggaeton event.

Amigos, the predominant Latin and Hispanic organization at Emerson, hosted the event which featured live music and visuals from over 20 Puerto Rican performers.

“It’s about building community,” Richard Lugo, the president of Amigos, said in an interview with the Beacon. 

Amigos is a social organization committed to uniting people of Hispanic culture, Lugo said. Hispanic Heritage Month gives the group an opportunity to hold events that educate both their members and the broader Emerson community about their culture, he added.  

“This event, specifically, was designed to teach us about the history of the music that is so important to the overall community,” Lugo said. “It’s about shedding light on the history and providing the right context to the music that we love so much.”

Charmaine Santiago Galdón dances next to her brother Marcel Santiago Marcelino at the Puerto Rico Beyond Reggaeton Event in Emerson College’s Bill Bordy Theatre last Wednesday night. (Madla Walsh for The Beacon)

The performances featured multiple acts of traditional Puerto Rican songs and dances, all representing a different aspect of Puerto Rican music and culture.

From the first song, the lead singer immediately engaged the audience in the music by using a call-and-response format. While the crowd started timidly, it took just five minutes before they were on their feet, singing, clapping, and dancing to the music.

This energy carried until the final performance, which featured a full band with over 10 instruments. By the end of the two-hour event, the crowd had ditched their seats and gathered right in front of the band, jumping up and down and chanting the lyrics to the final song. 

“Honestly, I felt like I was in Puerto Rico,” said Rocio Sola, a first-year interdisciplinary studies major at Emerson. 

Sola, who is of Puerto Rican heritage, said that the event was “surreal, fantastic, and immersive.” 

Valeria Murray, a creative writing major at Emerson who is also of Puerto Rican descent, felt similarly to Sola. 

“It felt amazing,” she said. “The live music was so beautiful and I’m so grateful I got to witness it.”

At one point during the event, the performers passed out floral skirts to a few members of the crowd, inviting them to dance on stage. To their surprise, both Sola and Murray were given skirts.

“It was completely improvised,” said Sola. “I was so excited that they gave us an opportunity to come on stage and dance.”

While Sola and Murray initially seemed a little unsure of what to do on stage, they quickly got the hang of it, following the lead of the performers. 

“I just loved putting on the skirts and just twirling around with everyone,” Murray said, laughing. 

In between all of the acts, Monica Rivera Sosa, a member of Amigos, provided some narration about each piece of music and how it was important to Puerto Rican culture.

“This has been in the making since February and I can’t believe it even went this well,” Sosa said. “I think that the music was played so beautifully and people learned a lot about our culture.” 

Sosa, who is the first person in her family to be born outside of Puerto Rico, said that this event and Latin Heritage Month as a whole are very important to her. 

“The fact that I got to do this event during Latin Heritage Month is even more special to me,” she said. “Puerto Rico is often overlooked because it’s in the Caribbean, and it’s great to see it featured in this way.”

Before the final song, Sosa talked passionately to the crowd, which was on their feet in front of the band for the final hour of the performance. 

“I’m proud to be Puerto Rican,” she said. “When you see a Puerto Rican flag in the future, I want you to think of this moment.”

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About the Contributor
Jack Burns
Jack Burns, Staff Writer
Jack Burns (he/him) is a junior journalism major at Emerson. He is currently a staff writer for the Beacon. Aside from the Beacon, Jack is a member of the men’s lacrosse team at Emerson and enjoys taking pictures of the city in his free time.

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    Michelle / Oct 14, 2023 at 11:39 am

    Awesome Jack!