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Masala Event Draws Crowd of 500

The event highlighted the cultures of many of UNC's lesser-known student groups with songs, dances, skits and other performances.

Masala, an umbrella organization whose members include many of UNC's multicultural groups, first organized the show in 1995. But organizers said this year's show is much different than the first. "It has expanded and become something more than just a fashion show," said Nitasha Menon, Masala co-president. "It has evolved into a cultural show."

The Asian Students Association took the stage first amid a thick cloud of fog while Petey Pablo's "Raise Up" blasted from the auditorium's speakers. After a precisely coordinated dance routine, students took the runway wearing traditional costumes of East Asian countries including China, Korea and Vietnam.

The fashion show also gave many lesser-known groups a chance to display their culture. The Persian Cultural Society took advantage of the show to perform the bandari, a traditional Persian dance from the southern region of Iran. The arm swinging and hip shaking of the bandari drew loud applause from the audience.

Menon said the opportunity to learn more about some of the smaller cultural groups on campus is one of the benefits of the fashion show.

"It is a chance for all of Masala's member groups to perform and to show the UNC community a little about their culture," Menon said.

While most groups used their time on stage to dance and display traditional costumes, the Black Student Movement took a different approach.

The BSM performed a skit intended to portray the average week in the life of a black family. A church served as the scene for the first act. Three performers danced and sang along to gospel music while a man in the audience stood up to give a dramatic testimony that evoked laughter from the audience.

Brad Picot, vice president of the BSM and a participant in the skit, said he enjoyed performing in front of such a diverse crowd.

"I hope people got an appreciation for our culture," he said.

The BSM performance, the last of the 14 presentations, was a crowd-pleasing ending to the show, which lasted for more than three hours.

Masala Co-president Neera Makwana said the organization had no trouble selling all of the $5 tickets for the show. About 500 people bought the tickets, and several other students snuck their ways into the auditorium.

Makwana said Masala was expecting to make more than $2,500 off the show, and the money will go toward funding for Masala Week in the spring, a prize for the spring Masala show and a contribution to the Dance Marathon.

Senyene Eyo, a Nigerian graduate student in the Department of Chemistry, said there had been a buzz about the show on campus so she decided to see what it was all about. She said she was not disappointed.

Eyo said, "I think its great how they have so many representatives of so many cultures."

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