Embracing island culture at Caribbean Bash

DJ Redwood calling attendees to the dance floor | Mhyanif Lozada, PantherNOWDJ Redwood calling attendees to the dance floor | Mhyanif Lozada, PantherNOW

Mhyanif Lozada | Staff Writer

Vibrant music, island kitchen staples, and cultural pride surrounded students in this year’s Caribbean Bash. 

Caribbean Bash took place on Oct 5 at FIU’s Biscayne Bay campus, making it the fifth event in Homecoming Week 2022. 

Planned by the Homecoming Council, this event showcased Caribbean culture through music, dance, food, and beloved pastimes. Attendees could also take pictures at a photo booth and pick up FIU cultural club merchandise.

DJ Redwood, a Caribbean artist based in Fort Lauderdale, mixed the beats. His track list included reggae, salsa, Afro-beats, merengue, and well-known songs in other Caribbean music styles. 

The lively energy grew as the dance floor filled up and the songs picked up their tempo | Mhyanif Lozada, PantherNOW

As the night went on, DJ Redwood called students up to volunteer for dance battles. Attendees showcased their moves, dancing against and with each other, to win the most cheers. 

The audience roared as the contestants showed off their dance skills | Mhyanif Lozada, PantherNOW 

Throughout the night, students raised flags from their countries and waved them to the rhythm of the music. 

Sophomore Chelsea Matthews, a biology major, brought her Trinidad and Tobago flag, draping it over her shoulders as she enjoyed the night.

“I really enjoyed the versatility of the music,” said Matthews about the DJ’s chosen tracklist. “He really played music from every island, and that’s rare.”

Students proudly raise the Jamaican flag after taking the stage. | Mhyanif Lozada, PantherNOW

After having fun on the dance floor, attendees could grab a bite of Caribbean food staples. Selections included plantain chips, Cuban sandwiches, patties and pastries with various vegan fillings, flan, and sugar cookies. 

Plantain chips, Cuban sandwich, vegan cheese pastry, and vegan beef patty in an attendee’s dish | Mhyanif Lozada, PantherNOW

Attendees could also sit down at several tables in the ballroom and play a round of dominoes, a game typically enjoyed during Caribbean family reunions. 

Players strategically calculating their next moves | Mhyanif Lozada, PantherNOW

Throughout the night, there were plenty of other activities for attendees to enjoy, such as a photo booth, and a glitter make-up station, which all celebrated Caribbean culture.

After attendees chose a set of jewels, the make-up artist carefully applied them in a style typically done for Caribbean carnivals. 

The shining jewels placed on attendees’ make-up reflected the colorful light in the room | Mhyanif Lozada, PantherNOW

Homecoming council member Shaniah Curton, a sophomore majoring in psychology, served as the event coordinator for Caribbean Bash. 

“I think this event makes everyone feel noticed, in a way,” said Curton, “since FIU is located in an area where you can always find someone from your country.”

Students strike a pose with photo booth props | Mhyanif Lozada

FIU clubs like the Jamaican Student Union and the Homecoming Council members set up stations in the ballrooms. They provided merchandise, such as small light-up fans, shirts, hats, and towels, and encouraged students to follow their Instagram pages. 

Attendees only had a moment to grab these hats before none were left, like the shirts and towels put on display | Mhyanif Lozada

Curton elaborated on the process of organizing the Caribbean Bash, from calling vendors to assuring that all Caribbean countries were sufficiently represented. 

“I felt it was a nice touch to find flags for all twenty-six Caribbean countries,” said Curton. “We just wanted everyone to feel seen and heard.”

While fun, Homecoming week is an intense and stressful time. With the Homecoming game and more events on the horizon, both students and the Homecoming Council had much to forward look to. 

Curton commented that this event allowed members and students to relax before the week went on. 

“This was a way to appreciate the Caribbean diaspora in a celebration,” said Curton. “It’s a very nice way to let go and just dance.”

Julian Davis on the scene at Caribbean Bash | Julian Davis, PantherNOW

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