The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Canopy Club’s Latin Night brings Latin pride to CU community 

Angel Saldivar
Performance at Canopy Club Featuring Calle Verde. Adrian Sanchez on Guitar.

Every month, The Canopy Club hosts a Latin Night, created and hosted by Chicago native DJ ZAY.

The event, labeled by The Canopy Club on their website as “the biggest Latin party in C-U,” will next take place Oct. 7.

ZAY said he created Latin Night as a solution to combat the lack of events for the Latin community on campus, which he felt wasn’t proportional to the size of the Champaign-Urbana Latin student population.

“I noticed there weren’t many events going on for Latino representation at the University,” ZAY said. “We have a huge Latin community, but we don’t have representation for it in the nightlife.”

ZAY is a 23-year-old graduate from Southern Illinois University with a degree in graphic design. He said he picked up DJing during his freshman year of college, and has been putting on shows ever since. 

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    Now, ZAY is the primary performer at Latin Night, and has created an event that provides a space for Latino students to be themselves and connect with others.

    Melissa Sanchez, junior in LAS, said despite having places like La Casa Cultural Latina, it can be hard to connect with other Latinos.

    “With the local culture being so white, it can be difficult to feel comfortable indulging in Spanish music or other cultural aspects without feeling kind of isolated,” Sanchez said. “It’s really freeing to be in a space where you don’t have to worry about being out of place.”

    ZAY said the Latin Night environment creates a space for absolutely everybody to feel comfortable sharing their culture.

    “Latin music, globally, doesn’t have boundaries or restrictions to just a Spanish speaking person,” ZAY said. “Actually, Latin Nights are very diverse. I’ve seen multiple cultures and ethnicities under one roof.”

    ZAY said this could create opportunities for audience members at the event to build connections with one another.

    “I go into the room not knowing anyone,” ZAY said. “I leave the venue meeting people, and we have great experiences that we’ll have for a long time.”

    The upcoming Latin Night will feature performers alongside ZAY. The University dance group Stiletto Queens will be performing, along with up-and-coming DJ Uri.

    The atmosphere of Latin Night has created some magical events in the past, like a proposal and engagement taking place at one of the shows last academic year. ZAY said that night was sold out.

    ZAY said he wanted to give back to the community with the event by donating profits from the shows to various charitable organizations.

    “When Puerto Rico got hit by a hurricane, I contributed one of my nights to actually be able to donate a good amount of the funds into that Puerto Rico hurricane fund,” ZAY said. “That was one thing I was able to do just because of the Latin community.” 

    ZAY has additionally used funds from previous Latin Nights to donate to a Thanksgiving food drive and a relief fund for victims of massive earthquakes in Turkey, which took place previously this year.

    The recurring nature of the event has allowed for multiple charities to receive donations from ZAY, while also spreading Latin pride.

    Sanchez said she plans on attending the upcoming show after attending two previous Latin Nights and described what the monthly event means to her.

    “I think having it be a reoccurring event not only allows for Latine students to enjoy their culture,” Sanchez said. “But having it semi-frequently also increases the chance that non-Latine students will come in, and maybe learn more about a culture other than their own.”

    Tickets for DJ ZAY’s upcoming Latin Night can be purchased online at


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    About the Contributors
    Maaike Niekerk, buzz Editor
    My name is Maaike Niekerk, and I am a sophomore majoring in English with minors in music and journalism. I began working with The Daily Illini during the fall semester of my freshman year as a buzz staff writer, and joined the editorial team last summer. I love bringing live event coverage to you from Champaign-Urbana’s vibrant music scene and sharing stories of local artists and musicians. Outside of The Daily Illini, you’ll find me performing at every football game with the Marching Illini or cycling with the 2024 Illini 4000 bike America team.
    Angel Saldivar, Assistant Photo Editor
    ILLordle: Play now