Please select your home edition
Edition
Barton Marine 2019 728x90

Havana Cruising - The magical arts and music edition

by SV Crystal Blues 17 May 2018 05:26 PDT
Music for the street, so much energy © Neil Langford, SV Crystal Blues

Havana absolutely rocks with music of all types - every second restaurant has a resident band for the lunchtime crowds, and usually another band for the evening session. So many musicians, so much energy, its hard to relax. I just wanted to hear all of it, to drink it all in, but it simply isn't possible.

In any afternoon you can hear five or six bands at as many venues, all playing to the street and the crowd inside. The guys in the first image above occupied almost half the floor space in the bar - in another bar the band occupied the entire space, and the patrons sat on stools outside on the sidewalk. The younger bands are mixing newer sounds into the traditional Cuban mix, adding saxophones and much younger interpretations of the Cuban classics.

Of course it is not all Latin rhythms - visitors can take in the Ballet, there are symphonic concerts, Jazz of all kinds. So many talented performers in one small nation, its hard to comprehend. I understand the government pays selected musicians a monthly stipend (yeah, probably only around US$20.00) and then schedules them to play where required - government owned restaurants, community festivities etc.

However many musicians are also part of the new economy, playing in bars and restaurants where they gather tips in the breaks plus (the big earner) selling CD's of their own music direct to the crowd. Those CD's are a kind of variable - sometimes you get what you heard, other times the music on the disk is completely different. No way to tell, but its worth buying the memories, and great to support the talent in a direct way.

Other art forms flourish here - from sculpture to lino cut printing, oil painting, even street art is an accepted genre.

Galleries and artist collectives are everywhere, creative processes are underway around every corner. Usually with an eye to the dollar, though not in a blatant way - these are educated people, subtle and proud.

It could be argued that even the traffic barriers in Havana Old Town are artistic - here they stop cars with canons. Old canons, hundreds of them, artistically buried / planted in the narrow streets to place limits on vehicle traffic, returning the streets to the people and creating a beautiful traffic free ambience in much of the Old Town.

Which leads us to that most complex of artistic disciplines - architecture. Havana can boast a good collection of Soviet inspired brutalist concrete structures from the 1960's, and then there is the Russian Embassy in Havana, which has to be seen to be believed (what were they thinking?).

However it's the older architecture that is so compelling, with fine restoration work proceeding apace on almost every block. In the heart of town the old Capitol Building is beautifully restored, along with a collection of significant buildings, including the oldest hotel, the Hotel Inglaterra (do not miss the rooftop bar at night).

Now to something more mundane, but far more personal.

At lunch in the Old Town, a young woman sat across the street and produced a sketch of me, then presented it at our table. This was not something we'd requested - she was an opportunist. Some minutes later she returned, and I asked how much she wanted - the answer was enlightening. "How much do you think it's worth? Give what you think, or give nothing, it's yours" she said. So of course I over paid. Go figure.

So capitalism is alive and well, and the people have a certain charm that allows them to prosper when they spot an opportunity, and Cuban art is a big opportunity.

In the past few years the internet has become widely available, and far less expensive, and the younger generation are right into it. This will rapidly impact their expectations, influence the art and change the country for sure - go see it before it changes too much if you can.

Finally, I believe that the Cuban people have raised vehicle maintenance to an art form - the massive number of 1950's vehicles (and older) that are still running is a tribute to their talent.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of svcrystalblues.blogspot.com

Related Articles

Set sail to Charlestown Classic Sail Festival
Charlestown Harbour is making its final preparations Charlestown Harbour is making its final preparations ahead of the first ever Charlestown Classic Sail Festival which is taking place from Friday 30th August to Sunday 1st September. Posted today at 1:50 pm
Hamilton Island Race Week overall
The show is over at the windiest Hamilton Island Race Week The show is over and the divisional winners at the windiest Hamilton Island Race Week is years are gearing up for a big evening of celebration marking the end of another fantastic series in the sailing wonderland of Queensland's Whitsunday islands. Posted today at 10:21 am
Hamilton Island Race Week: Images from Day 6
The beautiful weather came to an end for the final day of the Hamilton Island Race Week. The beautiful weather came to an end for the final day of the Hamilton Island Race Week. Misty rain squalls visited the course several times, as the competitors took one final lap around the Whitsundays. Posted today at 8:07 am
Fireball North American Championships overall
Wind and sunshine both show up for the final day Day 3, race 4, and the wind and sunshine both showed up. Out on the race course the wind was 14 knots gusting 18, and shifting enough to cause the Race Officer to postpone one start, recall the second, re-lay the course and try again! Posted today at 5:24 am
2019 J 24 US Nationals at Rochester day 1
49 teams vying for the title in New York Forty-nine J/24 teams are vying for the 2019 J/24 US National Championship hosted by Rochester Yacht Club in New York. Three races were accomplished on the opening day in light and lumpy conditions. Posted today at 4:44 am
2019 J/111 Worlds at Chicago overall
Rob Ruhlman's Spaceman Spiff earns the title Rob Ruhlman's Spaceman Spiff took control of their own destiny on Friday, nailing both race wins to earn the title of 2019 J/111 World Champion. Posted today at 4:03 am
Will history repeat itself at Rolex TP52 Worlds?
History and statistics may weigh in on the side of Quantum Racing The defending world champions arrive in Puerto Portals on the back of their first regatta title of the season, narrow victors in Cascais last month in big winds and waves. Posted on 23 Aug
Hamilton Island Race Week day 6
All humps and bumps A mother Humpback and calf breached in tandem for the media, away from the race fleet which was doing a variety of courses in the trade winds that have blown all week and were once again in fine form. Posted on 23 Aug
Hamilton Island Race Week: Flying in the MOD70
Sail-World's NZ Editor Richard Gladwell flies around Hamilton Island in a MOD70 Sail-World's NZ Editor Richard Gladwell flies around Hamilton Island on the MOD70 Beau Geste. Here's his take on the day with images from on-board and a debrief with skipper Gavin Brady. Posted on 23 Aug
Barton Marine Newsline: August 2019
Two pieces of Fastnet news to share The team have been busy with the Rolex Fastnet Race and Whitstable Harbour Day, as well as looking back at one of our greatest business achievements ever. Read on to find out what has been going on in the world of Barton over the last month. Posted on 23 Aug
WindBot-COACH-660x82Melges IC37 2019 FooterRS Sailing 2019 - Footer