The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Latino Student Union’s winter baile makes space for culture, community

GVL | Trenton Estrada

Grand Valley State University’s Latino Student Union (LSU) hosted its annual baile for the winter semester on April 6. Baile is a dance gathering, popular in Central and South America. 

The LSU hosts different events throughout the year to celebrate Latino culture. Often, these events are centered around food, movies and games that are popular with members. Baile is LSU’s biggest event each semester. This semester, it was themed “El Festival de Musica: Fuego,” or fiery music festival.

Guadalupe Alamillo-Jimenez, the event coordinator for LSU, planned the event and picked the fuego theme. 

“My vision for it was that fuego means fire physically, so that’s why I included the red, orange and yellow (decorations), but I also wanted (it) to be envisioned as like fuego, the fire that Latinos represent,” Alamillo-Jimenez said. 

The Grand River Room in Kirkhof Center was transformed into a musical festival-like environment, complete with a dance floor, tables set up with accessories such as glow sticks and bracelets to create a festival ambiance, photo opportunities and a fake merch stand. The LSU also encouraged attendees to dress in bright colors and clothes that fit the festival theme. 

Alamillo-Jimenez decorated the event’s doors with the different flags of Latino counties to emphasize that everyone was welcome at the event. Additionally, the DJ was asked to play a variety of Latino music from different countries. 

“I like the Reggaeton,” said Danahe Garcia-Navarro, the vice president of LSU, referring to her preferred music. “Some of the main (genres) are Bachata, and Cumbia. There’s some Banda songs that typically tend to appeal to most of the members because we do have a bigger sized Mexican demographic.” 

Some artists the club played were Bad Bunny, Peso Pulma, and Karol G. The DJ for the event, DJ Anjel, is the father of one of the members of LSU, and Garcia-Navarro said she is excited to have him as DJ, because he understands the cultural significance behind the song and dance. 

“I think that there’s that special connection there because (DJ Anjel is) more familiar with the culture, so I think that’s very important to have,” Garcia-Navarro said. 

Although the baile was advertised to the Latino student population Alamillo-Jimenez said everyone was welcome. She hopes Latino students who did attend the event and were not already involved with the LSU will be inclined to get involved with the community and organization in the future.

“I am hoping that people see a community for them, maybe even a family, because, like those that are far away from their home, I think they experience loneliness,” Alamillo-Jimenez said. “So this is a good community, especially for Latinos to feel involved and feel some sense of like, okay, I’m not alone.” 

Both Garcia-Navarro and Alamillo-Jimenez said they have found community at GVSU through their involvement in LSU. 

“From the very beginning, that’s how I found my friends who I have now, like the connections made there, were definitely a ripple effect to now. That’s mainly my friend group, mainly the people I hang out with and every fun event is with them,” Garcia-Navarro said. 

Garcia-Navarro has been involved in LSU for three years. She joined the organization her first year on campus after she found the club at Campus Life Night. Through her involvement, she has taken leadership roles in the organization and has made connections across campus. 

Alamillo-Jimene had a similar experience after getting more involved with the club in her second year and now holds a leadership position in her third year. Alamillo-Jimene said the position fits her because she is interested in event planning. Though she is an allied health science major, she hopes to do event planning on the side in the future.

However, LSU means more to her than just a position. She said the organization gives her a network of people. 

“I found a community that I want to stay with and belong to,” Alamillo-Jimene said. 

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