Bright yellows, reds and blues combined with lively music and sweet aromas filled the Penn Stater Conference Hotel Saturday night during the 31st Annual Caribbean Experience.
The Caribbean Student Association (CSA) sponsored the event, which aimed to "impress the crowd and keep up the standards set by past Caribbean experiences," said club President Kirrelle Allahdua (senior-health and human development). The theme of the event was "Island Breeze: Healing of the Nations."
"We want to incorporate the problems in the West Indies and get people discussing important issues," Allahdua said. "We want to prove to people that we're not just a party organization."
Doors opened at 5 p.m. and dinner, which consisted of fried plantains, steamed vegetables, Escovitch fish, white rice and other staples of Caribbean cuisine, was served at 5:30 p.m.
Students streamed into the conference hall, which was festively decorated with flags representing different Caribbean nations, dressed in semi-formal attire. Club member Patrice Anderson (junior-psychology) said she had high hopes for the evening before the event started.
"Tonight my fellow Caribbean peers can unite, celebrate and teach Penn State what we're all about," Anderson said.
At 6:30, the CSA dancers kicked off the show by weaving in and out of the tables to get the about 250 attendees excited about the night ahead.
Throughout the night, there were many musical, theatrical and dance performances.
Before taking the stage, NOMMO Performing Arts Company drummer Ross Ulbricht (graduate-materials science) said he hoped to "pump everyone up and raise the energy level."
Rap group Fatal Finale drove from New York to perform, and while the group experienced technical difficulties, this didn't stop the group from performing its original pieces.
Between performances, emcee Shinelle Andalcio-Pierre paid tribute to important people of Caribbean descent, including artists, activists and politicians. She also asked members of different greek organizations to show themselves. A special shout-out was given to Ki Phi Sigma, Penn State's first Caribbean fraternity.
The aspect of the event that evoked the most cheers from the crowd was the fashion show. It featured CSA members shaking their hips down the catwalk while wearing colorful and patterned nationalistic clothing representing their countries of origin, as well as beachwear and street clothes. Some CSA members showcased their countries' flags as they modeled, and others wore masks and headwear.
At the end of the night, CSA's executive board handed out awards such as "most active member" and "most active alumni," and then proceeded to announce next year's executive board members.
Anderson, who was named co-secretary, walked on stage with the rest of the future club leaders, and each received a bouquet of flowers and loud applause from the crowd.
This article incorrectly states a group's name and affiliation with the university. Chi Phi Sigma 1st Caribbean Fraternity and Sorority Inc. members that attended the event are the founders of the organization and are graduates of Bloomfield College in Bloomfield, N.J.