Sub-zero temperatures and a five-inch snowstorm were not enough to prevent a great turn out to celebrate Dominican Independence Day at Tumbao Bar and Grill Restaurant. The MC, Gustavo Villafaña, opened the evening by asking the audience to sing the national anthem. This was followed by welcoming remarks from DAMA’s Chair, Dr. Rafael Núñez-Cedeño, who spoke briefly on current immigration issues in the DR, acknowledged the excellent work of the Executive Committee, and recognized several distinguished guests and the audience.
Special salutations were presented by Mr. Javier Salas, on behalf of Illinois’ Governor Pat Quinn, Chicago’s Alderman for the 30th Ward Mr. Ariel Reboyras, and the Consul General Dr. Gisselle Castillo, who also reminded the audience to be mindful of their roots and struggles for independence.
This year’s presentation was dedicated to Merengue, the music and dance which express a sense of cultural pride and national identity for Dominicans. It began with a short exposition by Dr. Núñez-Cedeño, in which he explored its etymology and history from 1854 to the present, accompanied by a background visual presentation ranging from paintings of dancers, instruments, and dance groups, to its most famous past and current, world-renowned interpreters. The audience also heard a variety of merengue samples dating back to the 30s. The evening further featured a first-time presentation of the newly formed DAMA folkloric group of eight dancers under the direction of Sandra Lahoz. It consisted of one adult couple and three couples of youths.
Preceded by a brief introduction to the mangulina merengue, they presented a beautifully choreography dance which dazzled the audience, who at the end asked for an encore. And an encore they did with a perico ripiao, drawing the public to join in the dance. It was indeed a memorable evening.