Montclair Sate University’s Caribbean Students’ Organization (CaribSO), a cultural organization of the Student Government Association (SGA), hosted their Caribbean Ball on Sunday, Nov. 13. With the attire for the night being formal, students dressed up in glamorous outfits, looking their best and ready to celebrate the night.
CaribSO President Brandon Taylor-Roach, a junior political science major, said the event is a way to honor Caribbean heritage.
“Caribbean Ball is a beautiful night to celebrate the fullness of Caribbean culture,” Taylor-Roach said.
The event began with the host, Montclair State alumnus and former SGA president Ernst Lozin, playing games with the crowd to get everyone excited and ready for the executive board to make their entrance. They started with Caribbean Trivia where everyone was grouped based off of their country, such as Haiti, Jamaica, Dominica, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, and they competed to see who knows their country best.
Lozin then introduced each member of the executive board as they danced and strutted down the aisle, all waving their country flags and wearing a shade of blue, which was the theme for the night. The decorations and food on the dessert table were also blue. This color signified the ocean and waters surrounding the Caribbean Islands. The outfits and decorations were a way of paying homage to the ancestors of the e-board members who were thrown in the ocean during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
CaribSO treasurer Naomi Malcolm, a sophomore nursing major, said she loved the event and the “togetherness of [their] cultures.”
“The way we’re celebrating is just so beautiful,” Malcolm said. “[Tonight gives us the opportunity] to embrace everything [about our culture], and that is the reason why I joined CaribSO.”
Malcolm went on to say that although CaribSO has been an established organization at Montclair State for many years, due to the pandemic, they haven’t been able to put on as many big events in a while, so that added another element of excitement to the Caribbean Ball.
Taylor-Roach and the e-board members, including event coordinator Natalee Marie Ramos, a junior justice studies major, then took the time to honor the sponsors of the event by saying thank you and giving one representative from each organization a blue flower.
“It is amazing seeing everyone [here and dressed up],” Ramos said. “We all worked so hard to pull off this event, and all our co-sponsors and organizations from other schools. It’s amazing how they all showed out for us.”
Co-sponsors from both Montclair State organizations and outside organizations, including Future Teachers of Color, Daughta Speaks, the Native African Student Organization, Complexions, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), All Pockets Full, Ladies First, the Haitian Student Organization and many more, were recognized.
After all the introductions and speeches, the entertainment part of the night began.
The Rutgers University Bachata Club delivered an ecstatic performance of a bachata routine they had prepared. Bachata, which consists of three-step movements, is a style of dance that originated in the Dominican Republic. It is widely recognized among the Caribbean islands, although not all versions of bachata are identical.
Afterward, CaribSO executive assistant Samira Bailey, a junior psychology major, delivered a powerful cover of “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Between performances, as a way to keep the crowd engaged, Lozin asked DJ HasirPOW to play the charity single, “We Are the World,” and shared an important message on unity.
“We are all here from different parts of the world,” Lozin said. “And we are all here coming together in the same room, so I think it is really imperative that we unite ourselves together. I’m glad we are all here having fun with each other [because] sometimes when you say ‘I’m from Haiti, I’m from Cuba,’ they look at you a certain way. This song means we are all the same.”
After, Montclair State’s Haitian Student Organization Dance Troupe delivered a fiery performance, receiving an uproar of applause from the audience. Each dancer represented their countries by having their flag on the back of their shirts for one part of their performance.
Following them, the CaribSO Dance Troupe gave an enthusiastic performance causing the crowd to circle around the dance floor and erupt in applause and screams.
Mark Lovell, a senior dance major and dance troupe coordinator for CaribSO, shared what it meant to him to perform at the event.
“Creating a dance for CaribSO is like an experience because it takes me back to my roots,” Lovell said. “I am of Guyanese descent, so it’s easy for me to take the movement I am used to doing at my homeland and bring that to the light [to share with everyone]. Being in a space [such as this one] and people cheering you on is like an exchange of energies. I loved performing tonight. It was so freeing, like I got to show my true self.”
After the entertainment of the night, students took to the dance floor to dance and celebrate this incredibly impactful cultural event.
The proceeds from the ticket sales of this event will be going into an initiative called “CaribSO Cares,” where CaribSO will be hosting an event centered around giving young children in less fortunate neighborhoods toys for Christmas.
General body meetings for CaribSO are held every Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.