By Mason W. Canales

Killeen Daily Herald

Latin beats thrummed through the air of the Killeen Civic and Conference Center. Ten girls held the frilly ends of their dresses waiting to dance, then swirled their hands as they bounced with the rhythm, embracing the music and bursting the buds of white fabric into flowers.

The local Puerto Rican Kids Folk Dance group was one of many performances at The Sociedad Cultural Hispanoamericana event, "Fiesta del Caf." The event ran from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday and brought members of the local Hispanic community together.

As the girls continued to dance to their first song, a white-clad boy from the dance group sneaked onto the wooded floor. He fetched a white handkerchief, and stole control of a single girl. They became the center of show as they courted each other with movements.

"It is very nice," said Gail Perez, of Killeen and parent to one of the dancing children, watching. "Keeps the kids very close to the family. They also enjoy the culture behind the dances."

Another boy appeared on floor and was passed the handkerchief, and his movements were mimicked by another girl. The simple smile from his young face flared the excitement and joy throughout the room.

While the event was themed around coffee, caf in Spanish, its purpose was much greater than the simple beans found in Central and South America, said Staff Sgt. Edwin Ramos, master of ceremonies for the event.

The Sociedad Cultural Hispanoamericana organized the event to share and embrace their many different cultures with one another and the rest of the community, Ramos said.

"The bottom line is trying to communicate to society that we all have a common bond and we are all equal," Ramos said.

A major part of the Hispanic cultures is music and dancing, Ramos said.

"The dancing represents the pride of our culture," Ramos said as he explained that most of the dances originated from a period in time when the Hispanic cultures were in poverty or enslaved.

"The music is how we project our happiness," said Maria del Rio, The Sociedad Cultural Hispanoamericana treasurer. "... There are so many folkloric dances to show where you come from, your background."

Del Rio teaches classical dance classes in Hispanic styles such as salsa and merengue, she said. A dance troupe she taught also preformed those styles at Fiesta del Cafe.

"Music is just a part of our life," del Rio said explaining that she dances while she cooks and showers. "Everything I do has rhythm. Every time you go to a Hispanic event you are going to have music."

A total of nine groups performed music and dances from the various Hispanic cultures including: Mariachi Relampago, of Austin; Keito's Tropical Productions, of Austin, San Antonio and Killeen; and Folklore America.

"We were invited to preform Afro-Caribbean dances," said Keito St. James, Keito's Tropical Productions director. "It is good to show what we do with other people. We gave it more variety."

In the audience, there were people from almost all the Hispanic cultures, del Rio said.

"The Hispanic association, its members are from everywhere," del Rio said.

People who attended, such as Freddie Arroyo of Killeen, said they enjoyed the event.

"We should offer more of this more often to get the Latin American community together more often," Arroyo said.

Arroyo is Puerto Rican. To him, 75 percent of their culture is dancing and music. Anytime you go to an event, whether it be Christmas, birthday parties or anything else there is music, he said.

"Dancing importance to me is like life itself." Ramos said. "Life is an expression of freedom. There is no stress, no problems, only what you make of it. Dancing is like revisiting and reminiscing your past, creating the present and seeking the future."

Contact Mason W. Canales at or call (254) 501-7554

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