As lights flashed and music pulsed out across the dance floor, a press of bodies moved together as one to the Spanish music playing over the speakers. Trent University’s HOLA (Organization for Hispanic and Latino Awareness) party at the Gordon Best Theatre last Friday night was espectacular, to say the least. The November 22 event began at 10 p.m., and lasted late into the night, playing host to those 18+ from backgrounds of all kinds. The party, hosted by HOLA, was a hit with the Hispanic and Latino community, as well as students and Peterborough residents from all backgrounds. They all came out to listen to Federico Chaux, AKA DJ Whorito, spin tunes from a variety of genres, including salsa, merengue, reggaeton, hip-hop, and afrobeats, to name a few. The party definitely lived up to Chaux’s expectations of being “iconic and legendary.”
While the upstairs party space quickly filled in, organizers and HOLA executive team members watched over the crowd with proud eyes. Federico (second-year Economics major and HOLA Off-Campus Rep) kept the party going, while Carlos Quintaro (second-year Forensic Science major and HOLA Secretary) and Vanessa Constant (second-year Forensic Science major and HOLA Director of Publicity) made sure everything ran smoothly. Vanessa, who runs HOLA’s Instagram account, @hola.trent, and the Facebook page, @holatrent, was decked out in a perfect Miami Vice wardrobe, the theme for the night.
HOLA is quickly becoming famous for their once-a-semester dance parties, the first of which took place last February at the Red Dog. Federico explained that it had been a rushed thing, where he played off his own Spotify playlist to a crowd of 230 party goers. Since then, HOLA has become much more organized.
The Trent group, which prides itself on being a “big support” to Hispanic and Latino students, comes together several times a year to celebrate events such as the Day of the Dead and Christmas. The groups lends a familiar hand to students who feel far from home. In October, the group also hosted a salsa making event in Gzowski College, where two ESL students won tickets to the dance party for making the best fresh salsa. Federico himself admitted that before joining HOLA, he was never really in touch with his Latino heritage. But thanks to HOLA, he and other students can now celebrate their unique heritage together in a safe and friendly environment.
Federico described his experience in Peterborough in an interesting way: he called it “the Simulation, because this place doesn’t feel real.” The other execs around him nodded and laughed, and emphasized how much finding HOLA has changed their lives in the electric city. University can be hard, and finding a group of friends even harder, but this tight-knit group has carved out a niche in the Trent community and says that all are welcome to join them.
Although HOLA has been around since 2014, the new execs say that it really only started to gain ground this year. The group is run by seven hard-working students, and is kept afloat by a hoard of volunteers. Carlos, Vanessa, and Federico all met on campus in residence, and began planning parties focused on their own cultural background. Carlos said that he “couldn’t have gotten better roommates” as his smile lit up and the others agreed.
As the party raged on beneath Carlos’ stunning visuals and Federico’s lively music, it was clear that youth in Peterborough had stumbled upon something stunning. At first, the young men in Hawaiian t-shirts were nervous to dance, and girls in glamorous dresses stayed close to their friends, but soon the life of the party enveloped the crowd, and all were dancing and singing along to music that made them feel accepted.
Missed the party? HOLA will be hosting again soon in the Winter semester, so talk to your friends and break out your best dance moves – HOLA’s fourth party will be a night to remember.