This Friday night, Perkins and Bostock libraries will undergo a classy transformation for the second year in a row.
The sensational appeal of Latin American culture will await students, faculty, staff and alumni at Latin Chic in a play off of DukePlays: The Party!, which was held last February. Mi Gente, in collaboration with the Duke University Union and Duke Libraries, will host the semiformal event. Organizers said they are thrilled to expose guests to the diversity of Latin American culture in a sophisticated environment.
"It's a great way to bring in the cultural and educational aspects [of Duke] in a way that's fun and lively," said sophomore Alexandra Villasante, the co-president of Mi Gente. "In a way that you're learning about other people without realizing that you're learning about other people."
Last year's DukePlays: The Party! was considered a "remarkable success" in bringing the Duke community together in a common celebration, and Duke Libraries was encouraged to re-host a party, said Deborah Jakubs, University librarian and vice provost for library affairs.
"Mi Gente did an excellent job integrating Latin themes, and it is their 15th anniversary, so it seemed like a great way to call attention to their activities but to open it up to the broader campus," Jakubs wrote in an e-mail.
Committee members for the event harbor a robust vision for its decoration, entertainment and overall feel, a vision which aims to encompass the diversity of Latin America and will be different for every room. Themes will range from a Caribbean setting in von der Heyden to a beach bungalow in Perkins and finally to a lively carnival in Bostock.
"When I thought of the vision for this party I really wanted to stay away from the traditionally held symbols of what Latin means," said senior Victoria Woodburry, head of event decorations.
She added that instead of symbols, lighting and music would be used to create an ambiance that would capture melding cultural themes. She emphasized that the themes do not reflect a specific time or place but a blend of elements that create a particular mood. The transition from room to room will be marked in order to dramatize the three different themes.
The beach bungalow feel in Perkins will exhibit a minimalist Latin design inspired by the Delano Hotel in South Beach, complete with mostly-white furniture, bright lighting and large, billowing drapes. The mellow mood will be replete with traditional Latin jazz bands playing relaxing music throughout the evening, said senior Luiz Velez, head of entertainment.
Von der Heyden will, by contrast, be transformed into a South Beach techno club with Brazilian Bossa Nova music-a mix of Brazilian jazz with house music-which Velez called an "amazing, amazing, amazing combination." Performances later in the night will feature rock bands Smooch and Stella by Starlight, both of whom will additionally play five Latin rock songs that Velez said will resemble a "live rock night club" and "Enrique Iglesias made into rock," respectively.
Rounding out the spectrum, Bostock will feature elements of nighttime rhythm, dance and vivid colors. Music in the venue will be, according to Velez, a nontraditional "funkish-punkish style" with salsa and merengue dancing, along with free mojitos served for seniors at the start of the night.
Event organizers said they hope Latin Chic will challenge people's perception of the Latin American community.
"I'm really excited to present something different from what I think a lot of people will expect when they hear there is a Latin party," Woodburry said. "We want to convey the many different sides of what it is to be Latin-there isn't just one country, there isn't just one style, there isn't just one genre of music."
Villasante said the idea for the event stemmed from her desire to host a Latin-themed semiformal and expanded with suggestions from DUU to merge the idea into a library semiformal.
After Mi Gente's proposal was approved in October, event organizers said the desire to convey their group's cultures while bringing the Duke community together guided their vision for the party.
"We want to show people how cool and interesting and complex [Latin America is while] at the same time always embracing our hospitality and our great sense of community," Velez said. "We want to bring everyone, everyone, everyone together, breaking apart all divisions and celebrating Duke."
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