Vaila Night Brings Families to the Dance Floor

Smooth moves and joyful laughter filled the ALA Cafeteria as families and students filled the dancefloor for Vaila Night on January 19.

By Nalani Lopez

Inside the Accelerated Learning Academy on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, sounds of cumbia music filled the halls as students and families gathered for Salt River Schools’ Education Native Language and Culture Program’s Vaila Night on January 17.

In the ALA cafeteria, the great tunes could be traced to the band of the evening, Ramóncito and Company.

“It’s been a while since I’ve played in the Community,” said Ramon Lopez, Community member and manager of the band. “It feels good to see all the people out there dancing.”

Lopez’s band brought out Community members of all ages to the dance floor. Everyone began to demonstrate their best dance moves for the contests ahead. Contest categories included Best Dressed, Best Cumbia and Life of the Party. Students and faculty donned their best i:pud (dress) and ribbon shirts for the evening.

Alongside the dancing, attendees were treated to a warm traditional meal of stota bavĭ (white beans), muñ (beans) and ce:mait (bread/tortilla). 

In the midst of the dance floor, Jessie and Phoebe Rosales, a couple who have been dancing together for over 15 years, danced nearly every song.

“My favorite part about dancing is getting to look at her,” said husband Jessie Rosales.

As the evening came to a close, the ENLC Program’s staff began to judge the moves on the jam-packed dance floor.

In addition to Nola Whitman, Jessie and Phoebe Rosales stepped their way to the Life of the Party award. For the cumbia contest, Lily Belvado, Harmony Brown and Lyla-Anne Waters wowed the judges with their rhythm and style and won the Best Cumbia award. Nazario Zaragoza won the Best Dressed award with his sleek white ribbon shirt.

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