Joel Velasco/PRISM Photography Editor Quimbamba Latin Dance Team performs at Uyai Nnua’s fifth annual Banquet Afriquella in December 2018.

El Polvorín Latin Festival aims to present an explosive battle of Latin dance and culture through a statewide competition during Latin Weekend.

Hosted by Quimbamba Latin Dance Team, El Polvorín invites several SUNY schools along with New Haven and others to perform at the Peace Quad in a battle for a trophy. According to the event page on the Binghamton University events calendar, “The term ‘El Polvorín’ derives from the Puerto Rican tradition where people of humble backgrounds would gather together to celebrate their culture by sharing food, live singing and dancing,” an environment Quimbamba hopes to emulate. Other than the competition, audience members can enjoy food, games, souvenirs and giveaways. Jorwell Perez, president of Quimbamba and a junior majoring in human development, noted the welcomeness the event aims to promote.

“The goal of the event is to not only to highlight Latinx culture, but also to enhance and expand our culture to the general Binghamton area, so we hope to invite not only students and faculty members but also community members and affiliates of the community,” Perez said.

With this search of inclusivity, all the events during Latin Weekend are free.

“We feel a big part of Latinx culture derives from struggle and not being able to have certain luxuries, so we try to all work very hard in order to raise funding and sponsorship in order to get that the whole weekend is free and includes all free activities,” Perez said.

This 7th annual El Polvorín Latin Festival is held on one of the three days of Latin Weekend, where the Latinx organizations on BU’s campus collaborate for a culmination of culture and pride for a wide community event. Along with Quimbamba’s El Polvorín, the Latin American Student Union (LASU) will be hosting its annual pageant, Nuestra Belleza y Galan Latinx, and the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO) will hold its NALFO Brunch during the weekend.

As for El Polvorín and the competition itself, practice for the performance is all worth it for the end goal according to Alexander Ortiz, a first-year member of Quimbamba and freshman majoring in sociology.

“Dance practices are always fun. After a long day of classes it feels good to be around people who you can call family, practicing our favorite dances,” Ortiz wrote. “In preparation for Polvorín, practices do get longer and stricter, but this is all to perfect our routines as it is our own show.”

Ortiz will be performing in his first El Polvorín this year and is excited for what Latin Weekend and Quimbamba can express for the community.

“I’ve been able to learn and appreciate all of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes of all student events,” Ortiz noted. “We strive to show the unity we have here, being that we are the underprivileged percentage.”

Although the event is meant to embrace Latinx culture, it is not just for the Latinx community, according to Perez.

“I’d say that even though it’s a Latin dance thing, it is definitely included to everyone,” Perez said. “We, and the people we invite, although we are Latin-based, we try to diversify our dances and our genres in order to appease multiple audiences. I don’t want people to think that this event is only for people of Latinx descent — that’s not it at all.”

Latin Weekend will take place from Friday, April 19 to Sunday, April 21. LASU’s Nuestra Belleza y Galan Latinx Pageant will take place in the Mandela Room in the University Union on Friday from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., Quimbamba’s El Polvorín will be hosted on the Peace Quad on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. and NALFO Brunch will be on Sunday at noon at Los Tapatios at 1101 Bunn Hill Rd.