Mayra Trujillo-Camacho

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Caution! It’s the Haunted Union…

On the 25th of October, the Campus Activity Board hosted the Haunted Union in honor of Halloween. This spooktacular event involved various activities including pumpkin paintings, fortune tellers, a glowcade, a haunted house, a “Fear Factor” tasting event and many more.

The Popp Martin Student Union was adorned with Halloween decorations and people sporting different costumes, such as Harry Potter or your typical vampire or witch. Many had very creative and interesting face makeup. The music set the mood for a fun night. Starbucks even gave out free samples of their new Halloween themed frappuccinos. There was also free food being given out by clubs.

The glowcade was very competitive. It was a glowing makeshift arcade with various competitive arcade games. For the more creative spirit, the pumpkin painting booth was available in the lounge of the Student Union. The pumpkin painting was a different take on the usual pumpkin carving but in its own way was an awesome idea. It’s still in spirit, but without all the mess that comes with carving.

There was also a fortune teller station, a highly popular activity for those who were interested in knowing their future. There was also a “Fear Factor” food tasting booth, where people who were brave enough could try intimidating foods. For example, there was a red hot chili pepper for those who were willing to take the risk, of which there were not many.

One of the main events was the haunted house. Walking into the haunted house, I had the eerie feeling one would expect; I was pushed towards the front by some of my friends and pulled open the door. As I walked, a giant spider came rushing towards me and caused me to jump. Then, out of nowhere, someone in white started yelling which freaked my group and me out. As we kept walking and opening more doors, there would be disguised monsters and serial killers coming our way or performing creepy acts. One that really freaked me out was the killer butcher who had a person on the table and was slowly chopping away. Through each door, there was a new surprise waiting to scare you. One time, a random hand suddenly reached out to me from a mirror, then a person in a Jason mask came right up to us. After we got to the end and we believed it was over, a disguised guy came chasing right after us, causing people to run screaming. The haunted house itself was very creative in terms of design, the lighting and sound created an ominous effect. The costume design was also very realistic and creative. I am very impressed that the Student Union was able to pull off a haunted house in a limited space and still create a very effective and scary haunted house.

Overall, the Haunted Union was a fun night full of frights and laughs. According to Leslie Varrella, the Haunted Union was a success. She said, “It was more fun than scary! I was laughing the entire time and my friends and I are having a good time.” The Haunted Union was a great event to go to for pre-Halloween excitement and was an awesome opportunity to meet new people.

Photos by Patrick Magoon.

Talented Artists at UNCC

Featured photo from left to right: “Master of Hearts,” “Fishing for Love” and “My Heart Melts for You” by Kelsey Locaylocay. Photo by Patrick Magoon.

On Wednesday, October 24, from five to seven p.m, the Campus Activities Board held a reception for student artists who submitted their art to the Student Art Showcase in the Popp Martin Student Union Art Gallery. This gallery has been on display since October 8, but today we were able to meet the artists with provided refreshments.

The art on display varied in style, color and purpose. Student artists stood by their paintings explaining the purpose of their pieces and answering any questions people may have had. The art varied in styles, from acrylic to digital to hand-drawn sketches. Each artist’s inspiration was different; beautiful creations, either based on the themes of love, dance. Each artist had different inspirations for their work.

Some students were inspired by their favorite celebrities and role models, including one of Lil Peep, a rapper who died of a drug overdose last November. This piece was really moving because it was very intricate and beautiful and it looked like it meant a lot to the artist. It reminded me of the recent death of the rapper Mac Miller, who also died of a drug overdose.

However, some had different inspirations to their pieces and took more of a symbolic approach in creating their artwork.

One particular piece of art that I found very interesting was that of Luke Ecton’s piece “Hollow.” This particular piece was in the outline of a woman, but what was interesting was the way the piece was presented: its lines outlined the woman and other types of lines that made up the piece which created the effect of the woman to appear hollow. According to Luke Ecton, this piece is based on mental illness, specifically depression.

Kelsey Locaylocay’s acrylic painting piece “Master of Hearts” I found particularly captivating. Her painting showed a heart literally being controlled like a puppet by a pair of hands. An art piece in which I interpreted it as someone pulling the strings of our hearts where we have no control over them. Of course, someone could have a completely different take on this piece than I do.

Luke Ecton’s piece “Hollow” was his fifth version, and before that, he had to go through different stages of the creation process, through hand drawing to digitizing the piece. Another example of the creation process, many artists create their pieces chunks at a time, focusing on specific areas of their piece.

Our artists here at UNC Charlotte are appreciated and we thank them for their time and effort to produce artistic pieces and for sharing it on our campus.

Overall, this event was a great way to give recognition to UNCC student artists and gave another way for them to earn extra cash and to spend an evening meeting different individuals who enjoy art.

Let’s Get Ready to Rumbao

Photo by Leysha Caraballo

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, The Rumbao Latin Dance Company provided UNC Charlotte students with a fun and energetic event, featuring salsa, merengue and bachata dances, taught by instructors Eduardo Diaz and Jennifer Geyer. Rumbao combines two key aspects of salsa dance, rumba and tumbao, and the percussive beat in salsa music the On2 New York style dance follows. Rumba implies a party aspect where people get together and have fun. Together the words make Rumbao.

We started with a warmup, everyone was in a circle moving to the music; body rolls and simple steps to get us moving. Once we were all warmed up, we started off learning the basic steps for merengue, which involved a simple one, two-step move and moving your ribs from side to side. With that under our belt, it was time to learn to create a “connection,” which is necessary to know and predict what your partner plans on doing, whether that’s a twirl or even a dip. In fact, connection is at the core of each dance. For example, merengue involves the lead turning their partner clockwise and counterclockwise while maintaining a closed dance position.

Merengue is the national dance of the Dominican Republic. It’s a combination of two dances, the African and the French Minuet, from the late 1700’s to early 1800’s. Slaves saw the ballroom dances in the big houses and they started mimicking the “master’s dances,” which were very staid and boring. Over time, the slaves added a special upbeat with drums creating a slight skip or hop. Merengue was introduced in the United States in the New York area and continues to grow in popularity due to its uncomplicated rhythm and exuberant nature.

Photo by Leysha Caraballo

After learning how to do basic merengue steps, the group was put into two straight, even lines so everyone had a partner. In order to practice connection, you were to mimic your partner’s moves, whether they were really random or plain, you had to keep up and follow their lead and anticipate what their next move would be. Alongside, Eduardo Diaz was a constant motivator in keeping us moving and connecting with our partner. He would say “If you don’t know their name, ask them” or “Get on the floor.” It was essential to find a connection as it was necessary to be able to dance bachata and salsa effectively.

After we have had formed connections with everyone in the group, we began to partner dance merengue. Truth be told, many of us hadn’t completely nailed down the dance, but it was still a very energetic and creative event. People added their own style and it was enjoyable for everyone.

Bachata originated in the Dominican Republic and it is danced widely around the world but not identically. The basics to the dance are three-step with a Cuban hip motion, followed by a tap. The knees should be slightly bent so the performer can sway the hips easier. The original Dominican bachata is today danced all over the Caribbean and was created by the people over many years for social dancing. It still continues to evolve.  Other types of bachata are traditional, modern, bachatango, bachata sensual, ballroom bachata and many more. Bachata music has some African, European and Indigenous musical elements. José Manuel Calderón recorded the first bachata song “Borracho de Amor” in the 1960s. Throughout most of bachata history, it was disregarded by the Dominican elite and considered vulgar and musically rustic. However, by the 1990s, bachata instrumentation changed from the nylon-string Spanish guitar and maracas of traditional bachata to the electric steel-string and Güira (a metal scraper used as a percussion instrument) of modern bachata. Bachata further transformed the 21st century with the creation of the urban bachata and has become an international phenomenon. In Drake’s song “Hotline Bling,” his dance moves are based on bachata music.

Photo by Leysha Caraballo

Salsa is a social dance that originated in the Caribbean. The dance along with salsa music originated in the mid-1970s in New York. Different regions of Latin America and the United States have distinct salsa styles of their own such as Cuban, Puerto Rican, New York style and many more. The Rumbao Latin Dance company specifically follows a New York style or On2 salsa style. In On2 salsa style, partners face each other most of the time and on the second beat of the first measure of the music, the follower, not the leader, steps forward. New York style is strict about remaining in a close dance space. On2 dancers also perform “shrines,” which is when dancers separate and dance solo with intricate footwork. New York style salsa is different from its Latin American and Caribbean counterparts. New York style emphasizes harmony with percussive instruments in salsa music.

Rumbao Latin Dance Company was founded by five fellow Charlotteans in March 2013. Eduardo Diaz first got into Latin dancing in high school at age 18. He moved here from Puerto Rico and wanted to keep a piece of his Latin culture with him, so he joined a Latin dance club and finally ended up joining Rumbao Latin Dance company in 2015. Jennifer Geyer, one of the founders of the company, first got into Latin dancing in college, where she met the four other founders, two of whom are UNCC Alumni.

This event was a rumba going by how energetic and fun it was. The music played to match the styles of dance we were dancing. This event in honor of Hispanic heritage month brought people together and created a learning space for everyone to learn a little bit of Latin dancing, from the most experienced to the least.