Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Contagio: UMass’ new Latinx student organization

Contagio celebrates the Latinx community through music and dance
Photo by Khalid Alford.

Located in the Latinx American Cultural Center at the University of Massachusetts’ Hampden Gallery, Contagio — a new Latinx cultural club — can be found by following the music. Contagio (Spanish for infection or contagious) intends to create a safe and fun environment through music and dance for Latinx students and to educate anyone who is interested in learning more about the Latinx diaspora.

On Oct. 16, amidst friends greeting each other, new members excitedly introducing themselves and candy wrappers flying around, the team was warming up for their inaugural general body meeting while upbeat Caribbean music played in the background.

“We just started out as friends looking to dance,” Yanssy Rodas Dubon, a senior political science and legal studies double major, said. “The idea came to us over the summer,” Rodas Dubon, president and dance coordinator of Contagio, said. “We wanted to make an RSO that was more music and dance-focused than what has been seen before in the Latin scene at UMass.”

According to Jesus Castillo, a sophomore management major and treasurer and co-founder of Contagio, “A lot of the motivation came from Latin music and our love for it. We realized Latin music is very contagious, so we want to spread it out, not only to people from Latin descent but to everyone who wants to learn about it.”

During the meeting, the members played games such as “Guess the Song” and “Finish the Lyrics,” which included music by artists from different Hispanic countries.

“I didn’t see a lot of students of color in my major,” Rodas Dubon said. “I would find myself being the only Latina in the class. It was hard to manage, and it was difficult to make connections with my peers.”

Castillo believes Contagio’s duty is to create a bridge between Latin American cultures and current UMass groups so that students feel that they are represented.

“My community at home consists mostly of people of color. Being in a predominantly white institution, finding your people is hard because we’re all spread out throughout campus,” Castillo added. “El Barrio [UMass’ Latinx Defined Residential Community] was a great opportunity for me and now I’m looking forward to creating a community for others through Contagio.”

As with any virus, people will also try to find a remedy. “Remedio” (Spanish for remedy or cure) is Contagio’s dance team, which held open tryouts last week for any interested UMass and Five College students. With the goal of teaching and representing the Latinx diaspora, Remedio embraces typical Latin American dances, like merengue, salsa, bachata and punta. However, the team expects to venture into other dance forms from Central and South America as well.

“Our focus right now is getting our dance team started and we have a lot of exciting events scheduled already,” Ellen Infante, a junior architecture major and co-founder of Contagio, said.

“Our founding flags are [from] Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Honduras, El Salvador and Colombia,” she added. “We all bring a little bit of our culture into the dances and it makes such a great environment to work in.”

Remedio is beginner-friendly and encourages people from all backgrounds, not just Latinx, to try out their best and have fun.

“We are aware not everyone likes to dance or put themselves out there like that, so we just want to create an environment [for everyone] to appreciate music,” Infante said.

“We want to spread what we love and reach as many Latinx people as possible so they know they can find community with us,” Rodas Dubon said. “We are here and we are here to support you,” she added.

Events and updates are announced on the team’s Instagram and TikTok, which can be found at @umasscontagio.

Camila Valdez can be reached at [email protected].

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    Jesus CastilloOct 16, 2023 at 10:04 pm

    Thank you for featuring us in your article, glad to have had the opportunity to speak on a project we are deeply passionate of.