La Casa showcases Latinx voices and talent

Over the family weekend, the LatinXcellence showcase hosted dancers, comedians, poets and other artists to showcase all mediums of Latinx art as La Casa celebrates Latinx Heritage Month.

Collaborating journalist

Daliya El Abani, collaborating photographer

The subway packed with students and families gathering on Saturday nights for a diverse set of performances by Latinx talent.

The sold-out LatinXcellence showcase, hosted by La Casa Cultural Center as part of Hispanic Heritage Month, brought together singers, bands, spoken word poets, comedians and entertainers at the Schwarzman Center, marking the first in-person iteration of the event since its inception in 2019. Acts and exhibits centered around Latin life, with traditional salsa and bachata rhythms flowing through a space brightly decorated with student artwork.

“This is an arts space where Latinas occupy space outside of La Casa,” said Eileen Galvez, director of the La Casa Cultural Center and assistant dean of Yale College.

This year’s event coincided with Family Weekend. The LatinXcellence showcase first took place in Fall 2019 at the Crescent Underground Theater. The initiative was brought forward by a student who found the Latinx community lacked the space to showcase their work beyond La Casa, Galvez said.

Galvez recalled that many students immediately bought into the idea as performers. That year, the hall was “full” of spectators, as musical performances turned into impromptu dance halls.

“It was a lovely, warm and beautiful space where people affirmed themselves in who they were, in their cultures and in their identities,” Galvez said.

Daliya El Abani, collaborating photographer

During the COVID-19 pandemic, La Casa hosted the showcase virtually.

The showcase is an entirely student-led project, Galvez pointed out. She added that her favorite part is giving students the ability to customize it in the most natural and relevant way without strict guidelines.

Jaden González ’25, student coordinator at La Casa, coordinated the showcase alongside Sebastián Eddowes Vargas DRA ’24, graduate assistant at La Casa. They were responsible for finding artists, providing the platform and organizing the entire event.

As the heart of the campus, the Schwarzman Center was a deliberately chosen location, González said.

“The Casa is right next to campus, so it’s really important that Latinos know they’re allowed to occupy space at Yale where they can be seen,” González said.

González added that the goal was to recognize the Latinx life that already exists beyond the walls of La Casa while creating new spaces on the Yale campus to celebrate Latinx heritage. Regina Sung ’24, a photographer, visual artist and former chief photography editor for the News, underscored this goal in her series of photos exhibited at the event.

Sung issued an open call for interested Latinx people to submit their expressions of their own Latinidad. Traditional photography can sometimes be “artificial and performative,” Sung said. This method therefore enhanced the “individualistic expression of identities” of Latinx people on the Yale campus.

“It is a documentation of our present moment, of what the Yale student body looks and is made up of,” Sung noted.

The showcase also acknowledged current natural disasters that have impacted Caribbean communities. Mariana Vargas ’23, announced that Despierta Boricua, the Puerto Rican student organization, will be collecting donations at the Hurricane Relief Efforts Showcase.

Over the course of the evening, the group raised approximately $400, adding to a total donation pool of

$7,000. La Casa’s next event will collaborate with De Colores to celebrate intersectional queerness this Wednesday, October 12, as Latinx Heritage Month draws to a close.

Latinx Heritage Month, recognized by the federal government in the United States as National Hispanic Heritage Month, takes place from September 15 to October 15 each year.

James C. Tibbs