Our rueda de casino class as well as a few others just returned home from Havana, where we took part in a one week program of classes and nights out dancing. Dancing in Cuba can be intimidating, especially for leads but I think that we all came back invigorated with new ideas and inspiration. Keep an eye on for a possible similar trip next year.

Being a music fanatic I was excited to have a chance to take in fantastic concerts by Alain Pérez, Maykel Blanco, El Noro y Primera Clase, Timbalaye, El Niño y la Verdad, Elio Revé, Alan Daniel and the Sonora Matancera among others. The Casa de Musica Miramar was my favourite venue, but I also enjoyed Salon Rojo, Cheverie, the Casa De Musica Galliano piano bar around the corner and up a flight of stairs, and El Gran Palenque Saturdays at 3-6pm where we saw a phenomenal rumba band whose name I did not think to catch. The Callejon de Hamel wasn't featuring rumba on the day we went, but we did hear a set by a formidable salsa band – again I did not catch the name – followed by a set by the legendary NG La Banda, which was a huge surprise.

I didn’t get out to past favourite venues like Cafe Catante Mi Habana or Delirio Piano Bar both in revolution square – not sure if they are still going strong but their Facebook presence was not as clear as the other venues. Also forgot to check out who was playing at La Zorra y El Cuervo despite walking close by it a number of times.

Fabrica Del Arte – open from 4pm Thu-Sun I believe – while not a salsa venue also provided an incredible night of art, theatre drinks and music by Tony Avila. Make a reservation for the restaurant if you want food – the bar food was less than spectacular although the pastries looked great and the drinks were very good.

I learned of another venue after returning home that I will certainly keep an eye on for next time – Olala in the Vedado area of Havana – I missed out on seeing Los Van Van! – they seem to have some of the biggest names in Cuban music from various genres.

I discovered it too late to take advantage of, but the EGREM studio on San Miguel near-ish to Galliano has a patio with peñas featuring son and rumba (etc?) acts – if and when I get back to Havana I will make a point of checking this out.

Our group went out dancing at Bule Bar 66, Industria 8, the Inglaterra, Hotel Flordia, and Cheverie. I highly recommend a trip to Cheverie for salsa fanatics – it’s a beautiful, spacious outdoor venue, with good food and drink and a very friendly staff. They have quality live bands some nights and I believe Thursdays is the big rueda night where you might be lucky enough to see the founders of rueda and their by-invite-only younger compatriots ("Los Fundadores") of rueda doing their thing.

I was struck by the change in Havana from my last visit about 10 years ago or longer. The country is now "open for business" and as such Havana feels like a city in the midst of a zeitgeist – tons of excellent restaurants, interesting shops opening up, it’s really going through a metamorphosis, and there are times – walking around Fabrica Del Arte or eating at Mas Habana, for example – when you could forget that you’re in Havana and not in a city like Berlin.
Featured Move
Setenta y Uno / Setenta con Gancho
Dance Papi demonstrate Setenta y Uno
Dance Papi demonstrate a a slightly more complex version of setenta y uno
Setenta y uno (71), also known as Setenta con gancho (Seventy with hook) is relatively easy cuban salsa casino move. Starting from a setenta, the lead finishes the move by hooking their arm in behind the follows arm and then may finish with a dile que or opt for more complex variations.
View this move
In Halifax specific news:
  • Plan Ashé is playing this Saturday May 4th at the Fickle Frog, they usually have some good DJ music for dancing between sets
  • Antojos has a Saturday Night Casamigos DJ Dance Party May 4th
  • Salsa/Kizomba Bachata social at Free To Move Oxford and Bayers Rd, 9:30pm-12:30am
In other news:
That’s all for this week, thanks for reading!
Copyright © 2019 Gordon B. Isnor, All rights reserved.

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