W Boston hosts Amigos’ 30th anniversary gala



Emersonians celebrate Amigos’ 30th anniversary.

By Kevin Guinan

Amigos Organización Latina celebrated its 30th anniversary with a gala held at the W hotel in Downtown Boston last Friday night. 

The event, which had Latin food, live music, and a dance floor, had 220 people in attendance—20 more reservations than the organization had originally planned for. 

“I would say it was a resounding success,” said Richard Lugo, the organization’s president.

Influenced by Caribbean cuisine, food selections represented the aspect of food that had been absent for so long since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, including fried pork, beef patties, churros, empanadas, and rice. The event also featured merengue, bachata, and salsa music played by a live band.

The event also had memorabilia relating to the organization’s 30 years of history, including archival documents such as letters and college event requests.

“It’s not just about making our presence known, but about celebrating together,” said Daniella López White, a member of the marketing team for Amigos. “There was a lot at stake, but in the best way possible.” 

Amigos heritage was also represented by club alumni at the event. Paloma Valenzuela, a 2009 Emerson alumni, spoke at the gala about how Amigos had helped her feel secure with her identity during her time at the college. 

“We owe it to not just our current members, but [also] to our alumni because they started everything,” Lugo said. 

“Amigos started with 10 people and now has over 100,” added Juanma Suárez Teissonniere, a student advisor for Amigos and the organization’s former president.

The organizers said that, beyond celebrating the club itself, the gala was a way to promote intersectionality within Emerson and its various communities.

“The gala was a really good start that we are open to everyone to celebrate Latino pride,” White said. 

“When we were founded in 1991, our goal was to promote and teach about the Latino community in the greater Boston area,” Suárez said.

Since its foundation, Amigos has served as an important part of many Emerson students’ social lives, allowing them to connect and celebrate through festivities.  

Lugo started his journey at Amigos his sophomore year, but after his first meeting, he realized the organization’s welcoming and social community “was just so special.”

Since joining Amigos and becoming the president, Lugo said he regrets not joining his freshman year. However, his initial apprehension about joining Amigos has played a role in his leadership position today, as he now organizes events such as the gala to attract new members to the group.

“I’m just going to try and be that person that people can talk to,” he said. “I was a shy person once.” 

López said she joined Amigos her sophomore year, describing how “a lot of comfort in [her] Latino heritage was made through Amigos.” 

With her past experience in high school planning for events with around 1,000 attendees, White said she wasn’t scared while planning Friday’s gala. 

“You could hear laughter; it radiated positive energy,” she said. “It was truly, at its core, a celebration.” 

As Amigos continues to make progress, the organization also aims to be a welcoming figure in the Emerson community, organizers said.

Teissonniere described that switching the organization’s name from a ‘Latinx organization’ to ‘Organización Latina’ was a change to avoid “the English language colonizing our language.” Given the debate behind the usage of ‘Latinx,’ the title was taken as a way to honor Latin heritage without abandoning the gender inclusivity of the term Latinx. 

More than anything, the gala was a way to celebrate the growth and evolution of free Latino/e expression in the Emerson community and beyond, organizers said.

“I want our Latino students to not be shy about being proud [of their culture],” White said. 

Around 10 new members have joined Amigos after the gala, according to Teissonniere. As numbers increase, he said the organization aims to continue to focus on intersectionality with their upcoming cultural carnival.