Leo Brouwer – Cuba&#39

In co-operation with
Leo Brouwer – Cuba’s
classical maestro turns
75 years young
Camagüey Theatre
Festival (October 4-11)
Driving through Cuba’s
provincial heart
Havana Guide
Cuban Theatre ISSUE
Restaurants — Bars & Clubs — Accommodation
by Nicolas Ordoñez
With a Passion for Cuba
Cuba Absolutely is an independent platform, which seeks to showcase the best in Cuba arts &
culture, life-style, sport, travel and much more...
We seek to explore Cuba through the eyes of the best writers, photographers and filmmakers,
both Cuban and international, who live work, travel and play in Cuba. Beautiful pictures, great
videos, opinionated reviews, insightful articles and inside tips.
The ultimate guide to Havana
with detailed reviews of where to
eat, drink, dance, shop, visit and
Unique insights to the place that
a gregarious, passionate and
proud people call home.
Like us on Facebook for
beautiful images, links to
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regular updates.
Over 100 videos including
interviews with Cuba’s best
artists, dancers, musicians,
writers and directors.
Follow us on Twitter for
regular updates of new
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We are deeply indebted to all of the writers and photographers who have shared their work with
us. We welcome new contributors and would love hear from you if you have a Cuba-related
project. You can contact us at [email protected]
Ruy López-Nussa band performs as part of 2014 Leo Brouwer Festival
photo by Alex Mene
Cover picture of Fito Páez with Leo
Brouwer looking on at the 2014 Leo
Brouwer Festival Photo by Alex Mene
Theatre in Cuba is often seen as the poor relation of Cuban arts and culture. There has been no equivalent
of Buena Vista Social Club, Los Van Van or Carlos Acosta taking the world by storm. Overly dramatic,
impenetrable to understand (without impeccable Spanish) and a mixed bag of facilities, leave many to bypass
or simply never find what is on offer. Understandable as this sentiment may be, there is a lot to miss—from
the flamboyant to the introspective, avant-garde to the classical, performing arts in Cuba offers not just
some brilliant acting and direction, but an insight into both contemporary and historical Cuba with a style
and an edge which is puro Cubano.
From October 4-14, Camagüey’s 2014 Theatre Festival showcases the best of Cuban theatre in the city’s
theater houses. To mark the occasion, this issue has features on Carlos Diaz, brilliant director of El Público,
as well as a review of his latest and most provocative work—Antigonón—and a review of Piñera’s Aire frío in
contemporary Cuba
For those thinking of making the trip to Camagüey, we have two features on this central province from
esteemed travel writers Jill Worrell and Lydia Bell. Our Havana section also features stories on Havana’s
Barrio Chino and in keeping with the theatrical theme, El Caballero de Paris.
October also sees the continuation of the Leo Brouwer Festival. Now at the mid-way point, this 6th Edition
has been nothing short of spectacular and for the renowned Cuban composer Leo Brouwer, who recently
celebrated his 75th birthday, it represents a fitting tribute to his ability to organize, inspire and manage one
of Cuba’s premier music festivals.
Do check out our expanded Havana Guide, which is growing to accommodate the new bars, restaurants and
casas particulares that continue to spring forth adding vitality and energy to Havana’s entertainment and
hospitality scene.
October 2014 Highlights (Havana, unless stated)
Sep 26-Oct 12, Leo Brouwer Festival
Oct 1-31, Brazil Month of Culture
Oct 4-14, Camagüey Theatre Festival
Oct 9-19, British Week: Tremendo swing
Oct 17-20, Fiesta de la Cubanía (Bayamo)
Oct 20, Cuban National Culture Day (birth of Cuba’s National Anthem)
Oct 24-30, Fiesta de la Cultura Iberoamericana (Holguín)
Oct 28-Nov 7, International Ballet Festival
Thanks to all of our contributors, sponsors, partners and readers. Do please keep providing us with your
feedback, comments and suggestions. All enquiries should be directed to Sophia Beckman at [email protected]
gmail.com. All the best. Viva Cuba!
octuber 2014
Roberto Fonseca performs as part of 2014 Leo Brouwer Festival
photo by Alex Mene
Leo Brouwer
Leo Brouwer – Cuba’s classical maestro turns 75 years
young p7
Cuban Theatre
Theatre in Cuba: Past & Present p12
Camagüey Theatre Festival p15
Carlos Díaz: Director of Teatro El Público p20
Carlos Diaz’s provocatively brilliant Antigone p22
Piñera’s Aire frío in Contemporary Cuba p24
Visual Arts p26 — Photography p28 — Dance p29 —
Music p31 — Theatre p37 — For Kids p39
British Week: Tremendo swing (Oct 9-19) p43
Brazilian month of culture (Oct 1-31) p45
by Ricardo Alberto Pérez
Driving through Cuba’s provincial heart with
hitchhikers p48
Camagüey: Languishing in a city designed for pirates
Back to the future in Havana’s Barrio Chino p53
Havana Style
The Gentleman from Paris (El Caballero de París) p56
La California Restaurant p59
Havana’s Own Cocktail Champion p62
Havana Guide
Features — Restaurants — Bars & Clubs — Live Music —
Hotels — Private Accommodation p64
Not to miss during Octuber 2014
Monday night
Monday night
Monday night football Birth of the National Monday night
Sep 30
Dinner at Mr Miglis’s
fusion oasis of good
food and style in
Centro Habana
Inauguration of
British Film Week
with ‘The Invisible
Woman (2013) by
Ralph Fiennes @
Cine 23 y 12, 8.30pm
Get a beer or six at
Havana’s best new
brewery: Cervecería
Antiguo Almacén
de la Madera y el
Oct 28-Nov 7,
International Ballet
Through Oct 12, Leo Dinner at El Litoral,
Brouwer Festival
one of Havana’s best
new restaurants—
This 6th Edition has watch life pass by the
been nothing short of Malecón.
spectacular. Still lots
left to see. Don’t miss
Dinner at Santy,
Jaimanitas’s off-the
beaten track worldclass sushi restaurant
Dinner at Walter’s
Carboncita. Enjoy
the best pizzas in
town—be warned:
the Diablo is hot!
Dinner at Habana
Mía 7.
Dinner at La Guarida
Havana’s most famous
(and arguably best)
restaurant located in
Centro Habana
October 9-19, British Watch peace break
out between Russian
and Ukrainian
God Save the Queen
diplomats at
by Retazos @ Teatro
Cuba’s premier
Las Carolinas, 8pm
Soviet restaurant,
Brazilian music
concert @ Casa de
las Américas as part
of Brazil culture
month, 7pm
Take a 1950’s
Chevrolet to La
California to keep
in touch with the
historic neighborhood
in this
Take in the drag
show at the one and
only Humboldt 52.
Documentary Leo
Brouwer Festival @
Cine Chaplin, 5pm
Tropical con Swing
@ Salón Rosado de
la Tropical, 9.30pm
featuring DJ Alain
Dark, Déjà Vu, et al
Oct 24-30, Fiesta
de la Cultura
Dinner at the
exceptional Starbien.
Ask for the tuna
Oct 1
Alas by Ballet Lizt
Alfonso @ T
Oct 4-14, Camagüey
Theatre Festival
Concert El arco y la
lira @ Teatro Marti,
Ruth Palmer @
Convento San
Francisco de Asís,
Caperucita Roja, el
musical @ Teatro
Mella, 8.30pm
(premiere). Sunday
Opening of
Revelaciones @ San
Francisco de Asís by
Nelson Domínguez
Sep 29
Roberto Carcassés
& his trio @ Café
Phantom of the Opera
@ Anfiteatro de la
Habana Vieja, 9pm
National Symphony
Orchestra @ Teatro
Nacional, 5pm
Concert de los
ancestros including
Chucho Valdés @
Teatro Karl Marx,
Alice in Wonderland
@ Teatro de las
Estaciones, 10.30am
( for kids)
La Máquina de la
Melancolía, with
Frank Delgado and
Luis Alberto García
@ El Sauce, 5pm
Oct 17-20, Fiesta
de la Cubanía
The new kid on the
block is a spectacular
new addition to
Havana’s food scene.
Muy Cubano...
Cubanísimooo @
Carpa Trompoloco,
Sat & Sun, 4pm
With a
Passion for
what’s on havana
nothing compares to HAVANA
Produced by
photos by Alex Mene
Leo Brouwer – Cuba’s classical maestro
turns 75 years young
by Ricardo Alberto Pérez
Leo Brouwer has just turned 75. You would never
know from looking at him although perhaps
by reviewing his repertoire, his record, his
contribution to Cuba’s musical heritage you would
wonder how he had accomplished so much in
such as short span of years. His music has created
an entirely new way of thinking, a tuning fork for
interpreting human sensibilities which covers
a multitude of themes including renovation,
universality, roots, fecundity and mystery.
Aldo López Gavilán performs as part of
2014 Leo Brouwer Festival
Leo was born in Havana in 1939 and grew up
obsessed with music. As a teenager he was lucky
to cross paths with Isaac Nicola, an exceptional
guitar teacher who opened the doors to composers
such as Gaspar Sanz, Luis de Milán and, later on,
Fernando Sor and Francisco Tárrega.
Upon making his decision to concentrate on the
guitar, Brouwer had determined the essence of his
musicality and, to a great extent, the nature of his
entire body of work. He became an exceptional
performer, one of the most brilliant innovators
ever known in the field of classical guitar. As he
matured, on stage he transformed the guitar into
a small orchestra. This phenomenon has its roots
in the unprejudiced manner in which he handled
the most diverse concepts, working without any
sort of discrimination and shining a spotlight on
the folkloric vein in the marvelous compositions of
Bach and Villalobos.
nothing compares to HAVANA
Produced by
Ernán Lopez Nussa performs as part of
2014 Leo Brouwer Festival
Both Cuba and other countries owe Brouwer an
eternal debt of gratitude for his founding and
running such an extraordinary event that is the
International Guitar Festival of Havana. It has been
decisive for the formation and development of the
highly respected Cuban School of Guitar not to
mention crucial for the fate of the instrument on
a world scale.
Brouwer’s musical thinking has been able to
accommodate a broad spectrum of sound,
including guitar classics and the most important
elements of Cuban and Latin American music, and
encompassing phenomena such as Hindu music,
The Beatles and jazz. His trajectory as composer
took off after the 1950s and has had important
moments with works such as Elogio de la danza
(1964), La tradición se rompe… pero cuesta trabajo
(1969), La espiral eterna (1970), De Bach a los Beatles
(1978), and Manuscrito antiguo encontrado en una
botella (1983).
His guitar concerts have built up a beautiful history
upon which he has extended the instrument’s
possibilities. Brouwer’s compositions handle
a fascinating mythology, with concerts being
identified by names of specific cities and persons
to which they have been dedicated. And so we have
the Liege, Helsinki, Toronto and Havana concerts,
all enriched by his intelligent dialogue with the
great guitar tradition.
From 1970 to 1980, Brouwer’s performances
amazed the world as he repeatedly toured
through England, Germany, France, Austria,
Holland, Canada, Argentina, Mexico and other
countries, establishing contacts with the world’s
most famous performers and composers. This
trajectory and those unique experiences later
became an inestimable reservoir for him when he
was forced to abandon the guitar at an early age
due to crippling arthritis; he has finally devoted
himself to composing and conducting orchestras.
He has also conducted the Symphonic Orchestra
of Cordoba in Spain and the National Symphonic
Orchestra of Cuba. Talented young people, some
barely out of their teens, often visit his offices
hoping to sit in on a short class or merely wanting
a bit of advice. He always welcomes them modestly
and kindly and never ignores them. Joaquín Clerch,
today one of the world’s guitar virtuosos and a great
composer, was one of those youngsters. Like many
others, he received help from Leo’s intuition and
talent. So widespread are Brouwer’s contributions
to Cuban music in general, that it would take a
specialist to accurately describe them.
Leo has always had an incredible talent for taking
on several creative projects at the same time.
While he was establishing himself as a solo artist,
he created the greatest musical project Cuba
(and possibly the American continent) has known:
the Grupo de Experimentación Sonora del ICAIC
(ICAIC’s Experimental Sound Croup) that would
provide sound tracks for Cuban films and bring
together Cuban musical talents, such as Silvio
Rodríguez, Pablo Milanés and Sergio Vitier. This
musical process outstripped his expectations
and grew into a genuine school, captained by the
Maestro himself.
Pancho Céspedez performs as part of
2014 Leo Brouwer Festival
nothing compares to HAVANA
Produced by
Fito Paez performs as part of 2014 Leo
Brouwer Festival
Ernán Lopez Nussa performs as part of 2014
Leo Brouwer Festival
The Leo Brouwer Chamber Music Festival began on September 26 and will end on October 12, 2014 in
Havana; it is yet another reason to joyfully celebrate his 75th birthday.
Ernán Lopez Nussa, Pancho Céspedez
performs as part of 2014 Leo Brouwer Festival
nothing compares to HAVANA
Produced by
Photos by Alex Mene
6th Leo Brouwer Chamber Music Festival
Through October 12, 2014
Karl Marx, Mella, Martí, Miramar theaters; Basílica Menor del Convento de San
Francisco de Asís, Charles Chaplin Cinema, Fábrica de Arte Cubano, Café Miramar,
Habana Café, Centro Cultural El Sauce, Casas de la Música de Miramar y Habana
Organized by the Leo Brouwer Office, the 6th Leo Brouwer Chamber Music Festival—probably4 the most
important music event of the year—began this past September 26 and will continue until October 12, 2014.
Unfortunately, the organizers have announced that this will be the last one and will be bidding farewell
to the growing audiences that have packed theaters and concert halls to enjoy “the perfect combination
of different kinds of intelligent music,” which has been the purpose of the festival throughout the years.
Wednesday, Oct 1
Friday, Oct 3
Teatro Karl Marx, 9pm
Concert Fito Páez Esencial
Leo Brouwer, Orquesta de Cámara de La Habana
(Cuba) e invitados
Casa de la Música Miramar, 7pm-2am
Noche Blanca del Flamenco
Aceituna sin Hueso, Josué Tacoronte, Reynier
Mariño, Gabriel Elizondo, and others
Teatro Martí, 8:30pm
Concert Les Voix Humaines
Jordi Savall (Spain)
Thursday, Oct 2
Teatro Miramar, 9:30 am-12:30pm
Clase magistral de Leo Brouwer
Teatro Mella, 8:30pm
Concert Palabras
Haydée Milanés, Ernán López Nussa, Enrique Plá,
Gastón Joya, Nam Sam Fong, Edgar Martínez,
Roberto García, Molote, Carlos Frank, Schola
Cantorum Coralina and Cuarteto de Cuerdas Presto
(Cuba) e invitados
Friday, Oct 3
Saturday, Oct 4
Teatro Martí, 5pm
Concert Donna in Musica. Compositoras italianas
ss. xvi-xvii
Anna Aurigi y Giovanni Bellini (Italy), Vocal Luna
(Cuba) and guests
Teatro Mella, 8:30pm
Concert Vivaldi siglo xxi.
Sinfonity (España)
Teatro Miramar, 2:30pm-5:30pm
Clase magistral de Leo Brouwer
Kcho Estudio Romerillo. Laboratorio para el Arte,
Exposición Praga, ciudad de la música
Photos: Jiří Všetečka
Sunday, Oct 5
Teatro Mella, 5pm
Concert Del medioevo al danzón
Horacio Franco, Victor Flores and Santiago Álvarez
nothing compares to HAVANA
page 10
Produced by
Monday, Oct 6
Friday, Oct 10
Teatro Martí, 8:30pm
Concert De Praga a La Habana
ArteMiss Trio y Pavel Steidl (Czech Rep.), Niurka
González, Gretchen Labrada and Orquesta de
Cámara de La Habana (Cuba), Leo Brouwer
Cine Charles Chaplin, 5pm
Presentación del documental Festival Leo Brouwer,
sus raíces de Joel Ramírez
Teatro Mella, 8:30 pm
Ballet Lizt Alfonso
Tuesday, Oct 7
Teatro Martí, 8:30pm
Concert Jenny Q Chai & Friends
Jenny Q Chai (US), Niurka González and Orquesta
de Cámara de La Habana (Cuba) and guests
Saturday, Oct 11
Basílica Menor del Convento de San Francisco de
Asís, 6pm
Concert El amor en el baile. Inéditos pianísticos
cubanos del s.xix
Liana Fernández, Lianne Vega, Milagros de los
Ángeles Soto, Lisa María Blanco and Gabriela Pineda
(Cuba), Josué Tacoronte (Cuba-Mexico),
Wednesday, Oct 8
Teatro Martí, 8:30pm
Concert Tras las huellas de Mangoré
Berta Rojas (Paraguay), Arístides Porto (Cuba),
Ricardo Gallén (Spain), Josué Tacoronte (CubaMexico), Orquesta de Cámara de La Habana (Cuba)
and guests
Thursday, Oct 9
Teatro Martí, 8:30pm
Concert El arco y la lira
Carlos Prieto (Mexico), Yo-Yo Ma (US), Ricardo
Gallén (España), Brasil Guitar Duo (Brazil)
Sunday, Oct 12
Basílica Menor del Convento de San Francisco de
Asís, 10am
Cello Plus (el cello más largo)
Professional cellists and students of the instrument
throughout the Island will play the longest cello
Teatro Martí, 8:30pm
Concert Las cartas de Julieta
Cuarteto Latinoamericano (Mexico),
González and Augusto Enríquez (Cuba)
Centro Cultural El Sauce, 7pm-2am
Noche Blanca de la Trova
For more information:www.festivaleobrouwer.com
El Ciervo Encantado, 11am
Musica electroacústica: 50 años del primer concierto
en Cuba
Quinteto de Viento Nueva Camerata, Ricardo
Martínez and Victor Piverno (Cuba)
Teatro Karl Marx, 5pm
Concert de los ancestros
Leo Brouwer, Orquesta de Cámara de La Habana,
Chucho Valdés, , Cuarteto Presto, Rodney Barreto,
Gastón Joya, Yaroldy Abreu, Dreiser Durruthy and
Reinaldo Melián (Cuba), Ricardo Gallén (Spain)
Casas de la Música de Miramar and Habana 10pm6am
Noche Blanca del Son (homenaje a Juan Formell)
nothing compares to HAVANA
Produced by
Tío Vania
Argos teatro
photo by Alex Mene
The Theater in Cuba: past and present
by Margaret Atkins
Theatre in Cuba is often seen as the poor relation
of Cuban arts and culture. There has been no
equivalent of Buena Vista Social Club, Los Van Van
or Carlos Acosta that has been able to take the
world by storm. Overly dramatic, impenetrable
to understand, (without impeccable Spanish),
and a mixed bag of facilities, leave many to
bypass or simply never find what it has to offer.
Understandable as this sentiment may be there
is a lot to miss – from the flamboyant to the
introspective, avant-garde to the classical –
performing arts in Cuba offers not just some
brilliant acting and direction, but an insight into
both contemporary and historical Cuba with a
style and an edge which is puro Cubano.
Havana, as one single example, puts on shows for
all tastes, from classical theater, often staged by the
Hubert de Blanck Company, to the experimental,
avant-garde theater of the Teatro el Público or
the Argos Teatro. Frequently, foreign plays are recontextualized to fit the Cuban reality. There are
Cuban playwrights who debut in theaters all over
the Island and their work is many times translated
to film, such as, for example, Lester Hamlet’s
Casa vieja¸ based on the classical Cuban play of
the same name by Abelardo Estorino; or Ernesto
Daranas’ Los dioses rotos based on Carlos Felipe
Hernández’ play, Réquiem por Yarini. I admit that
I miss theater “of days gone by,” something that
may be close to extinction in this day and age of
modernization and adaptation. Will my kids be
moved to tears by Romeo and Juliet? I’m not sure.
Maybe I have fallen behind the spirit of modern
times. Or perhaps, hopefully, we shall be able to
take one of those trips into the past very shortly.
There are theater companies in every province of
Cuba, both for adults and children. Even some of
the more remote towns have produced important
groups such as the Teatro de los Elementos in
Cumanayagua, Cienfuegos. In Cuba, the Camagüey
and Havana Theater Festivals are the most
important of the theatrical events. Both Cuban
and foreign theater companies put on emblematic
plays and premieres but they also bring together
actors, playwrights and critics in order to examine
the activity of artists on the Island. The festivals
are great celebrations that beckon huge crowds
into the theaters.
It is impossible to speak of Cuban theater without
going over some of its history. Back in preColumbian Cuba, areitos were magical-religious
ceremonies that expressed aboriginal Cuban
culture, mixing singing, dancing, oral traditions
and pantomime. As the aboriginal communities
disappeared, the areitos also vanished and the
Spanish occupation brought with it their Corpus
Christi festivities that consisted of religious
dramas accompanied by dance and song.
nothing compares to HAVANA
page 12
Produced by
Gotas de Agua sobre Piedras Calientes
Teatro el público
photo by Y. monte
Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda was another
Romantic playwright who left Cuban literature
a treasure trove of twenty works for the stage
(tragedies, comedies, dramas, adaptations and
one-act plays). And National Hero José Martí
was also a Romantic; his dramatic oeuvre is not
extensive within the huge body of his literary
output but it does begin to announce the arrival of
Modernism in Hispano-American arts and letters.
After the creation of the Republic, vernacular
theater attracted huge audiences. The opéra
bouffe, as started by Covarrubias, developed and
gave rise to new characters such as the gallego and
the mulata who joined the negrito to form a trio
that still makes its appearance nowadays on stage.
They lampoon reality with laughter. Vernacular
theater used music as an essential element and
many of the numbers that were performed went
on to become popular songs outside of the context
of the plays. Even though this type of theater
started to die out after 1959, its characteristics
still influence Cuban drama to a large degree.
Today’s strong comedy movement has inherited
much from it and it enjoys its own institutions
and events, the most important of which is the
Aquelarre Humor Festival.
Between 1730 and 1733 the first theatrical work in
Cuba made its appearance and on January 20, 1775,
El Coliseo, the first theater on the Island was born.
From 1800 onwards, temporary theaters began to
appear, many of them in simple sheds covered with
awnings. But just a few years later on February 28,
1838 the people of Havana had a new theater that
was described as one of the best in the world: the
Tacón Theater, today, the beautiful García Lorca.
From early days, there were popular characters,
talkative and sarcastic, who would deliver
social criticism and the joking around that was
characteristic of the nineteenth century opéra
bouffe. Francisco Covarrubias was the actor and
playwright dubbed the founder of the national
Cuban theater; he adapted short popular Spanish
plays, sainetes (one-act farces), to conditions and
personages in Cuba, using popular language and
creating the figure of the negrito.
There was also more “serious” theater during
the Republican Era. It was less popular and had
a smaller following and less government funding.
Besides, it had to compete with the vernacular
theater and the attractions of movies and that new
invention of television. Frequently ,it would be
financed by the actors and playwrights themselves
who would have to earn the money by doing all
kinds of other jobs and live on the brink of poverty.
This was the case of Virgilio Piñeira, playwright and
creator of very Cuban characters and situations
that went beyond the superficiality of vernacular
theater in the overwhelming milieu of a country
that apparently had no solutions.
The triumph of the Revolution brought huge
Tío Vania
Argos teatro
photo by Alex Mene
The nineteenth century also belongs to Romantic
Cuban theater with its precursor the successful
poet and playwright José Jacinto Milanés who
committed suicide after twenty years of madness
caused, so they say, by his forbidden love for
his cousin. His life was as romantic as his work.
nothing compares to HAVANA
page 13
Produced by
teatro el publico
photo by Ana Lorena
changes to the stage. In the wave of optimistic
euphoria, under the auspices of a State that
supported culture, new groups and theaters were
created and the work of directors, playwrights
and actors received hitherto unheard of social
acknowledgement. The Teatro Nacional de Guiñol
(National Puppet Theater), created before 1959
by the Camejo Carril brothers, expanded into all
the provinces. Each province now has a theater
dedicated to puppetry and child audiences. Teatro
Estudio was an extraordinary group started up by
the brother and sister team of Vicente and Raquel
Revuelta. It premiered important contemporary
plays and enjoyed both critical and public success
throughout its existence.
The history of post-1959 theater went through a
“dark age’ in the 1970s. This was an intolerant and
unfair period for Cuban cultural policy, generating
censorship, breaking up companies, firing staff and
generally receiving the name of the “grey decade.”
However, the storm subsided and even though
it left scars, the theater soldiered on. Successive
graduations from the National Theater School and
the Higher Institute of the Arts brought advances.
By the 1980s, another important group was born,
Teatro Buendia, directed by Flora Lautens. It
espoused experimentation and the search among
our Caribbean roots. Then the 1990s brought
the Special Period and many theaters were
forced to close down again in a reaction to the
country’s precarious economy. In the midst of all
this, two companies appeared on the scene: the
controversial Teatro El Público, and Argos Teatro,
the latter proving to be the most solid theatrical
company in terms of repertoire and trajectory.
And then there was Teatro de la Luna. Closer
to our days, filmmaker Juan Carlos Cremata’s
project called La Carreta never tires of scratching
the surface of life until it hurts. And the list of
companies goes on and on.
Nowadays, theater abounds in Havana and all over
Cuba. Sometimes it is successful and sometimes
it is not so successful but the playwrights and
directors are searching for the right path. Try
leaving a tiny space in your schedule when you
visit Cuba and come to the theater. You may well
be surprised and it is certainly one more way of
getting to know Cuba.
Teatro el Público
photo by Y. Monte
nothing compares to HAVANA
page 14
Produced by
Festival de Teatro de Camagüey
October 4-11, 2014
Casablanca Movie Theater,
Camagüey’s 2014 Theatre Festival
by Victoria Alcalá
Every two years, the lovely city of Camagüey,
which recently commemorated 500 years since
it was founded, gauges current Cuban theater.
Fourteen previous editions validate the National
Theater Festival held in the ancient colonial city
of Puerto Principe as the most outstanding stage
for Cuban theater arts and as the most important
national encounter of its kind.
A decision was taken in 2012 to eliminate the
competitive nature of the Festival, complete with
the awarding of prizes. This gave rise to different
opinions: some believe it could take interest away
from participation and also shortchange a sector
that lacks recognition. Others think that there is
less tension in the air when you remove the rivalry.
What is certain is that the generous presence of
groups from various provinces belies the dropping
off of interest since the mere fact of being selected
from amongst the proposals received by the
organizers constitutes a kind of prize in itself.
with present-day issues and others that venture
into an interesting symbiosis of genres and
Dozens of productions have been announced from
28 Cuban companies hailing from 12 provinces;
such a truly national stamp has been one of the
most important gains of the Camagüey festival.
Surpassed only by Havana, there has been a healthy
infrastructure put together in order to stage work
produced from September 2012 to June 2014.
Facilities have been expertly set up, some of them
by the actors of the companies themselves, as in
the case of Teatro del Viento. City squares will also
provide excellent stages thereby taking dramatic
representations back to earlier times.
photo by Alex Mene
This year as we remember the 200th anniversary
of the birth of the playwright and poet from
Camagüey Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, the
festival has taken on a meaningful theme: Theater:
memory, feelings and transfers. The plays, which
revolve around this slogan, have been organized
in different sections, so that audience may enjoy
productions that established guidelines in prior
editions and continue to be part of the repertoires
of emblematic groups, along with plays that deal
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Produced by
Festival Elsinor
photo by J.Calcagno
Far beyond the essential material conditions, the
well-versed, educated and soberly hospitable
audiences of Camagüey will surely be among
the true prizes for artistic prowess among the
selected participants. Groups from Pinar del Río,
Artemisa, La Habana, Isla de la Juventud, Matanzas,
Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, Ciego de Ávila, Camagüey,
Las Tunas, Granma and Santiago de Cuba will
add a glow to the festival, which will also feature
the performance of the popular young singer
Luna Manzanares, as well as the opening of four
exhibitions dealing with the festival’s curatorial
The venue for the theoretical event will be the
recently refurbished Casablanca Movie Theater
on “the street of movie theaters” that came to
life during the inspiring celebrations marking the
500 years of the city. A special feature will be a
seminar given by the French theoretician JeanFrédéric Chevallier who will stage his plays as
tools for the construction and interpretation of
contemporary theater. As usual, there will be
colloquiums, meetings with critics, a roundtable
with international theatrical programmers,
dramaturgy pitching aimed at new Cuban
playwrights, book launchings by the Tablas Alarcos
press, the presentation of the Conjunto magazine
and the Report of the 14th Festival (2013), and an
International Marionette Union (Unima) forum.
Performances in theaters
Teatro de la Academia de las Artes Vicentina de la Torre
Gris / Teatro Tuyo
Oct 4-5,
Oct 9-11,
Contigo pan y cebolla / Teatro Pinos Nuevos
Sala Teatral Teatro
Oct 6-9,
Jardín de estrellas / Compañía Teatral La Andariega
5 pm
Teatro del Viento
Oct 4, 9pm
Las lágrimas no hacen ruido al caer / Proyecto Mujeres Fuente de Creación
Oct 5, 5pm
Oct 8, 9pm
Delantal todo sucio de huevos / Teatro D’Dos
Oct 9, 5pm/9pm
Oct 10, 9pm
Burundanga / Teatro de Las Estaciones
Oct 11, 5pm
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Produced by
Sala Teatro José Luis Tassende
Oct 4-5, 9
El millonario y la maleta / Teatro del Viento
Oct 6-7, 9
Mundo de muertos / Estudio Teatral Macubá
Oct 9-11,
9 pm
Fíchenla si pueden / Argos Teatro
Teatro Avellaneda
Oct 4 y 5, 9
Oct 9-11, 9
Cuba y la noche / Estudio Teatral de Santa Clara
Semen / Teatro El Portazo
Teatro Principal
Oct 4-5, 9
Oct 6, 9
Oct 7,
9 pm
Oct 8, 9
9 pm
Oct 11, 5 pm
Oct 9-10,
Delirio Habanero / Teatro de la Luna
Sab / Ballet Folklórico de Camagüey
Concierto de Luna Manzanares
Tu noche con Kike / Kike Quiñones
Rascacielos / Teatro El Público
Sala Espacio Interior
Oct 4-6, 9
Oct 8-10, 9
Aleja a tus hijos del alcohol / Teatro El Público
La panza del caimán / Teatro del Espacio Interior
Café Teatro 15 Festival de Teatro
Oct 6-7,10:30pm
Kafé verde pero dulce / Proyectos varios
Oct 8-10,10:30pm
Mujeres de la luna / Teatro de la Luna
Performances for kids
Teatro Guiñol de Camagüey
Oct 4-5,
Oct 6-7,
Oct 8-9,
Festival Elsinor
photo by Alex Mene
Oct 10,
El gato simple / Guiñol de
El gato con botas / Guiñol de
Aventuras en pueblo chiflado
/ Los Cuenteros
Alicia en busca del conejo
blanco / Teatro de Las
Sala Teatro José Luis Tassende
Oct 4-5, 9
El millonario y la maleta / Teatro del Viento
Oct 6-7, 9
Mundo de muertos / Estudio Teatral Macubá
Oct 9-11,
9 pm
Fíchenla si pueden / Argos Teatro
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Produced by
Teatro La Edad de Oro
Los pintores / Teatro Escambray
Oct 4-5,
Oct 6, 5pm
La muchachita del mar / Teatro de Títeres Retablos
Oct 7-8,
Oct 9,
Oct 10,
Se durmió en los laureles / Teatro Papalote
Oct 11,
Performances in plazas
Plaza del Gallo
Oct 4, 6
¡Ay, Margarita! / Teatro
Oct 6, 6
En busca de una antigua
ilusión / Teatro Tecma
Plaza del Carmen
Teatro Espontaneo
photo by Y. Monte
Oct 5, 6
¡Ay, Margarita! / Teatro
Oct 7, 6
En busca de una antigua
ilusión / Teatro Tecma
Plaza Joaquín de Agüero
Oct 6, 6
¡Ay, Margarita! / Teatro Andante
Oct 8, 6
En busca de una antigua ilusión / Teatro Tecma
Plaza de los Trabajadores
Oct 8, 6pm
Troya / D’Morón Teatro
Avenida de la Caridad
Oct 9, 6pm
Troya / D’Morón Teatro
Plaza Joaquín de Agüero
Oct 10, 6pm
Troya / D’Morón Teatro
Plaza del Carmen
Oct 11, 6pm
Troya / D’Morón Teatro
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Produced by
Theoretical program
Multicine Casablanca
Oct 4, 9:30pm
Gertruids Gómez de Avellaneda – Back in her kingdom
Oct 5, 9:30pm
Theater management
Oct 6, 9:30pm
Dramaturgy pitching
Oct 6, 12
Presentations by Tablas Alarcos
Oct 6, 2
Seminar: How did I stage my productions? / Jean-Frédéric Chevallier
Oct 7, 9:30pm
Colloquium on Criticism I
Oct 7, 12
Presentations by Tablas Alarcos
Oct 7, 2
Oct 8, 9:30
Oct 8, 12
Oct 8, 2
Seminar: How did I stage my productions? / Jean-Frédéric Chevallier
Oct 9, 9:30
Oct 9, 12
One island, one theater
Presentations by Tablas Alarcos
Seminar: How did I stage my productions? / Jean-Frédéric Chevallier
Presentations by Tablas Alarcos
Oct 10, 9:30pm
Colloquium on Criticism II
Oct 10, 12
Presentations by Tablas Alarcos
photo by Ana Lorena
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Produced by
photo by Y. Monte
Carlos Díaz
Renowned director of Teatro El Público
by Margaret Atkins
Carlos Diaz, the renowned director of the Teatro El Público theater company, wanted to be an actor
since he was a child. Back in his younger days when he was in school plays, he was already aware
of the need for order, timing and placement in every scene. His journey towards stage direction
had begun. Diaz first founded the Teatro Ensayo de Bejucal theater company in his hometown and
went on to study theater at the University of the Arts (ISA) where his passion to direct grew even
more. At the time, however, there were no academic training programs for directors in Cuba.
After graduation, he worked as theater consultant
and assistant director for Roberto Blanco and the
Teatro Irrumpe Company where he did everything
but direct. A second job as artistic director and
general consultant for the Ballet Teatro de La
Habana gave way to a chance to produce three
plays a year for the National Theatre. His first
three productions, A Streetcar Named Desire, Tea
and Sympathy and Glass Menagerie were billed as
the North American Theater Trilogy. This was the
origin of what would one day become Teatro El
Now, as a famous director, Carlos is unassuming,
calm, friendly as he meets us at the Trianón
Theater, the home of his company since the 1990s.
This former movie theatre was also the home of
the National Symphony Orchestra during the
early years of the Special Period. We find him
preparing tests for fourth year students of the
National Theater School. Alongside his teaching
responsibilities, he produces a play every year
with undergraduates who will soon take charge
of Cuban theater. Some of his most talented
students, he hopes, will go on to join the ranks of
Teatro El Público. “I believe,” he confides, “that you
have to draw on the youth. I recall a time when an
18-year-old character was played by a 40-year-old
actress. I believe that you should give 18-year-olds
the chance to show off their age on stage.”
For Carlos, the most important thing in theater
is communicating with his audience. He believes
that theatrical art should entertain the public:
“I prepare a play like if I were preparing a party,”
he says. And truth be told, there’s no shortage of
guests at Carlos’ “parties.” The Teatro El Público
has worked hard to win its own public. “People
come here and don’t know what they’ll see, but
they have a pretty good idea of what will happen,”
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Produced by
says the director who, instead of success, prefers
to talk about communication. He loves packed
houses and attributes the long lines outside of
the theatre to his carefully chosen repertoire
and consistent style of work. We might also
add that his provocative, inordinate, irreverent,
unconventional and sensual way of dealing with
the key topics of double standards, intolerance,
spirituality and sexuality in everyday life of Cubans
today has a lot to do with his success as well.
A tireless worker, Carlos brings a swift pace to his
band of merry men and women, and his success is
marked on the plaques that line the façade of the
Trianón that boast 100 performances of different
plays produced by the Teatro El Público troupe and
its director. Some of the most successful include La
Celestina, The Twelfth Night, The Crucible, Caligula
and Antigonón, un continente épico.
A lover and admirer of the cinema, Carlos has had
close encounters with a number of film directors.
Both Fernando Pérez and Gerardo Chijona
have requested his assistance in several film
productions, but the theater is his passion. “The
idea of not doing theater makes me feel terribly
unhappy, he says.”
Who is Carlos Díaz? The answer is simple: he is “a
very happy man who asks very little of life, only
the possibility of going every day to the theater,
who strives to be humble, who has been very
much loved and has loved immensely, and whose
major responsibility is to never stop doing theater.”
Make sure to catch one of his critically-acclaimed
productions with the Teatro El Publico.
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Produced by
Carlos Diaz’s
brilliant Antigon
by Victoria Alcalá
photo by Ana Lorena
Carlos Diaz and his troupe, Teatro el Publico’s
most recent performance involved a trip back
to the classics, guided and partnered by Rogelio
Orizondo who wrote Antigonón, un contingente
épico especially for them. Carlos is the most wellknown and brilliant Cuban theatre director with
a reputation for directing plays with abundant
nudity, transvestites and subtle winks at the
Cuban national reality. So perhaps the audience
for Contingente Épico Antigonón was somewhat
surprised when this play opened with two poems
by Jose Marti*: “I dream of cloisters of marble’ and
the wrenching ‘The Swiss Father’.
Using the cover of tragedy and the myth of
Antigone**, the play deals with highly charged
subjects such as the younger generation of Cubans’
relationship with history and their country’s past,
with heroes who have become caricatures and are
manipulated by opportunists and simulators until
they become statues. The structure is complicated,
based on monologues. The staging is splendid and
demands the maximum effort from the actors
and the brilliant guest dancer Abel Berenguer (of
Danza Abierta).
With Teatro El Publico’s customary vision stripping
away everything that is sacred and its desire
for subversion (a wrenching image of Mariana
Grajales, head shaved and naked, shouting her
truth in the voice and person of the actress Linnet
Hernandez who has made a return to the stage in
this play), Teatro el Público firmly plants us in front
of those who could represent the new heroes,
those who will vindicate (or bury, that is another
possibility) the others, facing today’s Cubans and
their day-to-day epic. At moments, the tragedy
hints at slapstick, picaresque attitudes, “everyday obscenities” in these characters who are faced
with their destiny, these heroes who assumed their
role in that Homeland that belongs to nobody and
is the product of everybody.
The finale, as in the classical tragedy, is cathartic.
When Panchito Gómez Toro, the young son of
the Dominican general Máximo Gómez, learns
of the death in battle of General Antonio Maceo,
he runs to die at his side and has the presence of
mind to write his farewell: “Dearest Mother, Papa;
dear brothers: I die at my post, I did not wish to
abandon the corpse of General Maceo and I stayed
with him. I have received two wounds and I am
taking my life in order to not fall into enemy hands.
I do this with great pride for the honor of Cuba”.
Antigone, yet again, does not abandon her dead.
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Produced by
* “I dream of cloisters of marble” (They say your children
drink / Their own blood in the poisonous goblets / Of
their owners! / That they speak the rotten language /
Of their ruffians! That they eat / together the bread of
shame / at the bloodied table! / That they lose in useless
tongue / The final fire!...)
“The Swiss Father” who murdered his young children and
then committed suicide (Sublime father, incomparable
spirit, / Who to spare the delicate shoulders / of his
sons the heavy burden / of a life without faith, without
country, / a joyless life without clear course or certain
goal, / On his own colossal shoulders took / The terrible
burden of his savage crime!)
** Antigone is the daughter of Aedipus and Jocasta, who
sees her brothers die, one killing the other fighting on
opposite sides in a war for power; she ignores the edict
forbidding burial for her brother Polyneices who was
considered to be a traitor to the country and finally hangs
herself to avoid her punishment.
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Produced by
photo by Y. Monte
Piñera’s Aire frío in Contemporary Cuba
by Victoria Alcalá
On occasion of the centenary in 2012 of the Cuban
poet, playwright and narrator Virgilio Piñera, Mayo
Teatral, theatrical festival organized by Casa de las
Americas, decided to pay tribute to Piñera with
the inclusion of several of his plays in the event’s
Carlos Celdran
director de Argos teatro
photo by Y. Monte
Perhaps Electra Garrigó, written in 1941 and first
performed in 1948 by the Prometeo theater troupe,
may be one of his best plays, but was met at the
time with so little enthusiasm that the author
branded his critics as “unsuccessful artists” and
“uneducated Philistines.” In that same year, 1948, he
had written Falsa alarma, considered a pioneer of
the theater of the absurd, being written two years
before Eugène Ionesco’s The Bald Prima Donna
(1950). Aire frío was written in 1958, published in
1959 and performed for the first time in 1962 with
a favorable reception from audiences and critics.
Carlos Celdrán, director of Argos Teatro, has
confessed: “My first reaction when I reread Aire
frío was not to produce it. I was overwhelmed.
Virgilio Piñera’s family biography, the picture of
his time (the Republic), the devastating passage of
time, the Absurd and the progressive repetition
of daily events demanded a monumental scenic
construction—excessive for my current purposes.”
However, Celdrán chose to accept the challenge
foreseeing the impressive simplicity of the
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Produced by
dramatic structure and the ability to express the
inner world of a Cuban family in any period—
including today—harassed by poverty and the
anguish of a bitter survival.
In a simple and single setting that represents the
modest living room of a home, the family drama
(which was in part the author’s own drama) unfolds
and is intensified as time marches on. There is no
advancement for the Romaguera family. Oscar,
the poet son, only wishes to write and publish.
He travels to Buenos Aires but fails to settle there
and returns home. Angel, the father, is losing his
eyesight. This is the symbolic blindness of the
person who cannot see but doesn’t “want” to see
either. Ana, the mother, endures hardships and
humiliations and becomes increasingly ill day by
day. Henry, the successful son, lives comfortably
with the family that he has founded, visits his
parents and siblings out of habit, but only thinks of
himself. Luis, who lives in New York, has gone deaf.
Luz Marina, the protagonist, the only daughter
and the family’s sole breadwinner, lives in despair.
Her profound anguish envisions no future and
harbors the grisly emptiness of impotence. And
the heat—an omnipresent character in the play and
in the stage production—overwhelms, exhausts,
suffocates, kills...
Celdrán has assured that going over these issues
in the current context was for him a “cathartic
exorcism” because this “cascade to the abyss” has
allowed him to feel the sting of pain in the style
of Virgilio of making theater under strong, lucid
sarcasm, and he has emphasized the substance
of the great Cuban playwright, being able to face
the harshest reality with absurdity, which is so
common, that it may go unnoticed.
Founded in 1996, the Argos Teatro Company
successfully revisited Piñera’s play supported by
the remarkable performance of the young actress
Yuliet Cruz in the role of Luz Marina—organic,
intense, providing contemporariness to her
character, evident in her manners, the way she
moves and the way she speaks. Cruz hides her
exotic beauty and gives a laudable representation.
Meanwhile, veteran Francisco García proves the
validity of the National Theater Award which he
was granted in 2012 in his portrayal of the father,
who goes convincingly from euphoria to sadness,
from cynicism to tenderness, from haughtiness to
Yuliet Cruz
Argos teatro
photo by Y. Monte
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Produced by
Visual Arts
Las otras narraciones:
una década de animación
Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo
Lam, Through Oct 18
As part of the 6th Salón of Cuban Contemporary
Art, this exhibition explores a decade of the
work of 50 Cuban artists involved in animation
films through TV spots, messages for the public,
cartoons, music videos, installations, videogames,
visual experimentation, interactive works and
Hacia el poeta
Lloyd’s Register
(Calle B #310, e/ 13 y 15, Vedado)
Throughout October
The Spanish artist Mariví Nebreda reinterprets
the work of great Spanish-speaking poets .
La utilidad de la historia
Factoría Habana, Throughout October
The curatorial project, which includes the
particpation of Abel Barroso, Celia y Yunior,
Arianna Contino, Rigoberto Díaz, Ricardo Elías,
Alex Hernández, José Manuel Mesías, Frank
Mujica, Fernando Reyna, Lázaro Saavedra and
José Ángel Toirac, takes as its starting point the
creative processes and historical research that
sometimes become artistic events. The project
includes works by a group of young artists who
prioritize research and the use of documents
linked to the final result, as well as artists from the
1980s and 90s, representing the generations that
have influenced the newer generations in their
way of understanding art.
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Produced by
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Edificio de Arte
Through Oct
Centro Hispano Americano de Cultura
Abstraction. Thirty-eight works
by nine African-American artists
make up this selection, which
was curated by Nanette Carter,
Melvin Edwards and Ben Jones.
The exhibition is dedicated to the
memory of the African-American
poet and artist Jayne Cortez.
Opens Oct 24 Japón:
reino de personajes.
Exhibition of anime and manga
characters as an essential part
modern popular culture.
Centro Provincial de Artes Plásticas y Diseño
La intención como otro nivel
de conciencia. Andy Rodríguez
takes a look at everyday life by
way of irony and parody, critically
interpreting contemporary reality
through characters and settings
that caricature reality.
Oct 17
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Edificio de Arte
Through Oct
Cundo Bermúdez: pasión y
lucidez. With this selection of 25
pieces from 1940 and 1964, the
National Museum of Fine Arts has
organized, for the first time, a solo
exhibition of one of the leading
artists of the so-called School
of Havana and of the second
Cuban artistic avant-garde, who,
according to Roberto Cobas
Amate, curator of the exhibition,
“deserves that both critics and the
public recognize the validity and
strength of his art.”
Opens Oct 4
First solo exhibition by the
young Cuban designer Edel
“Mola” Rodriguez, consisting of a
selection of drawings, illustrations
and interventions in space.
Fábrica de Arte Cubano
Pintura en acción. Exhibition by
Eduardo Roca (Choco).
Galería Centro Cultural Fresa y Chocolate
Throughout Interludio. Exhibition of works by
students and teachers of the San
Alejandro National Academy of
Fine Arts, which touch on elements
related to music, dedicated to
Cuban composer Leo Brouwer’s
75th birthday.
Casa de Asia
Opens Oct 15
Olvídate de todo y pinta.
Watercolors and ink on cardboard
by César Towie, who uses
Havana’s architecture as an
object of meditation to induce
concentration, introspection and
reflection in pieces featuring
the traditional format in which
kakemonos were made in Japan, or
the hanging scrolls of China.
Galería El Reino de Este Mundo. Biblioteca Nacional
José Martí
Oct 8
Universos de Girona. Drawings,
oil paintings, watercolors, inks
and gouaches by one of the
most original Cuban artists of of
the 20th century: Julio Girona
(1914-2002), whose work, forever
young and restless, goes from
art informel through figuration
to abstract expressionism are
exhibited all month on occasion of
the centenary of his birth.
Casa Oswaldo Guayasamín
Opens Oct 2
Hay un presagio en el aire
made of plaster, stone, rope and
fiberglass by Tomás Oliva Agüero,
with a theme visited by the 20thcentury avant-garde—the toilet—
to represent fear, anguish, surprise
and shock.
varios phases in the rich and
diverse artistic production of
Nelson Domínguez, especially
emphasizing the period from 2010
to 2014.
Mascaradas. Exhibition by the
Italian artist Alfredo Cannatello.
Oct 12
Biblioteca Pública Rubén Martínez Villena
Opens Oct 9
Convento de San Francisco de Asís
Galería Habana
Oct 24
Dulzaides, essential figure in
Cuban photography, video art,
installation and public art, explores
everyday commonplaces.
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Produced by
Nosotros los de abajo
Centro Provincial de Artes Plásticas y
Diseño, Throughout October
The Mexican photographer Pablo Méndez makes
use of events that made the headlines in the
Novedades newspaper to assemble a discourse on
Mexican social issues and their spiraling violence.
Casa Oswaldo Guayasamín
Oct 13
Fototeca de Cuba
Silencio roto. In the 16 black and
white pictures by Annia Leyva
and Aníbal de la Torre, the human
figure is combined in the forefront
with objects associated with
everyday life.
Throughout xl´2. Focused on the concern of
young artists in relation to the
meaning of communication in
everyday life, this exhibition,
which is part of the 6th Salon of
Cuban Art, deals with the impact
of alternative forms in information
flow in Cuba.
Fábrica de Arte Cubano
Oct 25
Out of the Blue. Photographs
inspoired by Maestro David
Gilmour’s guitar solos.
Palacio de Lombillo
Oct 13
Breakfast in Havana. The different
poetics of Ridel Calero and
Armando Zambrana meet in their
realistic look of Havana, its people,
its environment and its symbols.
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Produced by
Ballet Lizt Alfonso, Teatro Mella, Fri 10, 17 &
24; Sat 11, 18 & 25, 8:30pm, Sun 12, 19 & 26,
Danza-Teatro Retazos and Grupo Gigantería
Sat, Oct 4, 4:30pm, Jardines del Teatro Martí
Alas, a hymn to the spirituality of humankind, pays
tribute to the distinguished Spanish flamenco
dancer Antonio Gades on the 10th anniversary of
his death.
Everyone is welcome to come with their own
masks to this concert/performance and be part of
the show!
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Produced by
XXIV Festival Internacional de Ballet de La Habana
October 28-November 7, Mella, Karl Marx and Nacional theaters
Presided over since 1960 by the legendary Alicia Alonso, the International Havana Ballet Festival brings
together outstanding international ballet stars, companies and celebrities of the ballet world, as well as
critics and entrepreneurs alongside the Cuban National Ballet. More than 200 world premieres to its
name and over a thousand guests attest to the significance of the Havana Ballet Festivals in the world
of dance. The festival, which is not competitive, focuses on the fraternal meeting of ballet artists from
all over the world.
2014 Preview
This year’s festival will be dedicated to the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare.
The Ballet Nacional de Cuba will perfom several ballets based on his plays, such as Shakespeare y
sus máscaras and Prólogo para una tragedia. The Ópera de Nice, which has been especially invited
to this year’s festival, will dance La pavana del moro, also based on Shakespeare’s work. The ballet
Tula, choreographed by Alicia Alonso, will commemorate the 250th anniversary of the 18th-century
cuban Cuban playwright and poet Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda. Other classical and well-known
ballets choreographed by Alonso will be presented: Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Giselle and La magia
de la danza (The Magic of Dancing). The latter is an anthology of scenes from several classical ballets
together with The Gottschalk Symphony, choreographed by Alicia Alonso.
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Produced by
Contemporary Fusion
Club Habana Party
Photo Alex Mene
The contemporary fusion and electronic music
scene has expanded recently as new bars
and clubs have opened party promoters have
organized events in parks and public spaces.
Good live music venues include Bertolt Brecht
(Wed: Interactivo, Sunday: Déjá-vu) and El Sauce
(check out the Sunday afternoon Máquina de la
Melancolía) as well as the newly opened Fábrica
de Arte Cubano which has concerts most nights
Thursday through Sunday as well as impromptu
smaller performances inside.
In Havana’s burgeoning entertainment district
along First Avenue from the Karl Marx theatre to
the aquarium you are spoilt for choice with the
always popular Don Cangreco featuring good live
music (Kelvis Ochoas and David Torrens alternate
Fridays), Las Piedras (insanely busy from 3am) and
El Palio and Melem bar—both featuring different
singers and acts in smaller more intimate venues.
Café Cantante, Teatro Nacional
Fresa y Chocolate
Manana Club
11 pm
10 pm
Arnaldo Rodríguez y su Talismán
5 pm
Wednesdays Qva Libre
5 pm
Elaín Morales
Sat & Sun
Cover bands
Los Kents
9 pm
Mucho Ruido
Tercera y 8
10 pm
5 pm
Soul Train, a show of soul music
Café Concert El Sauce
Every other
Submarino Amarillo
Charanga Latina
5 pm
Havana Hard Rock
10 pm
5 pm
Aceituna Sin Hueso
La Máquina de la Melancolía, with
Frank Delgado and Luis Alberto
Baby Lores
11 pm
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page 31
Produced by
Maikel Blanco
Photo by Alex Mene
y su Salsa mayor
October 6, 8pm
Teatro Mella
Salsa / Timba
Casa de la Música Habana
5 pm Caribe Girls
Casa de la Música de Miramar
5 pm
11 pm
Habana C
Sur Caribe
5 pm El Noro y 1ra Clase
11 pm NG La Banda
5 pm Habana D’Primera
11 pm Pedrito Calvo y La Justicia
5 pm Pupy y los que Son Son
11 pm Charanga Latina
5 pm Juan Guillermo
11 pm Adalberto Alvarez y su Son
5 pm Azúcar Negra
11 pm Manolito y su Trabuco
5 pm Manolito Simonet
11 pm Habana D’Primera
5 pm El Niño y La Verdad
11 pm NG La Banda
Piano Bar Tun Tun
11 pm NG La Banda
5 pm Gens (pop-rock)
5 pm Manana Club
11 pm Gens (pop-rock)
11 pm Electronic music
Café Cantante, Teatro Nacional
Manana Club
5 pm Tumbao Habana
5 pm Bamboleo
11 pm Chispa y sus Cómplices
Jardines del 1830
Azúcar Negra
10 pm
11 pm
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Produced by
MUSIC jazz
Café Jazz Miramar
Shows: 11 pm - 2am
This new jazz club has quickly established itself as
one of the very best places to hear some of Cuba’s
best musicians jamming. Forget about smoke filled
lounges, this is clean, bright—take the fags outside.
While it is difficult to get the exact schedule and in
any case expect a high level of improvisation when
it is good it is very good. A full house is something
of a mixed house since on occasion you will feel
like holding up your own silence please sign!
Nonetheless it gets the thumbs up from us.
Jazz Café
Calle 88A No. 306 e/ 3ra y 3ra
A, Miramar. +53 (07) 209-2719
Shows: 10:30pm - 2am
Mellow, sophisticated and freezing due to extreme
air conditioning, the Jazz Café is not only an
excellent place to hear some of Cuba’s top jazz
musicians, but the open-plan design also provides
for a good bar atmosphere if you want to chat.
Less intimate than La Zorra y el Cuervo – located
opposite Melia Cohiba Hotel.
La Zorra y el Cuervo
Shows: 10:30pm - 2am
The ‘Fox & Crow’ offers an intimate environment
in this basement venue notably marked by a red
English telephone box at its entrance. Top jazz
players perform here on a nightly basis. Dark,
cramped, low ceilings and an absolute firetrap this
has much more atmosphere of the gritty kind than
the Jazz Café, which seems too pretty and sterile
by comparison.
Asociación Cubana de Derechos de Autor Musical
Café Miramar
Alexis Bosch (pianist) and Proyecto
Jazz Cubano.
Oct 16
6 pm
6 pm
Casa de la Poesía
Oct 17
10 pm
&composer) and his trio
Jazz Poetry, with the group
Polaroid and young poets from
Oct 9
2 pm
Peña La Esquina del Jazz hosted by
showman Bobby Carcassés.
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Produced by
MUSIC Bolero, folklore, son & trova
Asociación Yoruba de Cuba
Casa Simón Bolívar
Los Ibellis (Folkloric group)
4 pm
6 pm
Café cantante, Teatro Nacional
Centro Memorial Martin Luther King, Jr.
Waldo Mendoza
4:30 pm
El Jelengue de Areíto
Café Concert El Sauce
10 pm
Marta Campos
Oct 16
4 pm
Oct 7 & 28
Waldo Mendoza
Oct 9
Plus Trova with Charly Salgado
and guests.
Frank Delgado
Tanda de Guaracheros
5 pm
Conjunto Chappotín
5 pm
11 pm
Wednesdays Trovando, a meeting with good
Casa de África
Oct 3
Obba Ilú
2 pm
Oct 4
Conjunto de Arsenio Rodríguez
Rumberos de Cuba
5 pm
Obiní Batá
5 pm
Hotel Telégrafo
Casa del Alba
6 pm
4 pm
Oct 30
5 pm
4 pm
Oct 11
5 pm
Peña El Canto de Todos, with
Vicente Feliú
Ivette Cepeda.
9:30 pm
Hurón Azul, UNEAC
Casa de la Cultura Comunitaria Mirta Aguirre
Oct 26
5 pm
Mundito González.
Oct 11
Get-together with trovador Ireno
10 pm
Pabellón Cuba
Casa de la Cultura de Plaza
Oct 11
5 pm
7 pm
Piano Bar Tun Tun (Casa de la Música de Miramar)
Centro Cultural Habaneciendo
Fausto Durán and guests
Centro Iberoamericano de la Décima
Casa Memorial Salvador Allende
5 pm
Peña La Juntamenta, with trovador
Ángel Quintero.
Casa de la Música Habana
Yoruba Andabo
5 pm
Peña with trovador Ray Fernández
5 pm
3 pm
Oct 24
Peña Tres Tazas with trovador
Silvio Alejandro
Peña with Marta Campos.
Oct 28
5 pm
El Jardín de la Gorda with trovadors
from every generation.
Centro Hispano Americano de Cultura
Oct 11
5 pm
Abel Geronés, Wendy Besada and
Wendy Vizcaíno
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classical MUSIC
Photo by Ivan Soca
Basílica Menor de San Francisco de Asís
Oct 1
Concert with the Camerata Romeu.
11 am
Oct 4
6 pm
Oct 18
Premiere of works by Cuban composer Juan Piñera interpreted by the Promúsica duo, violist
Anolan González and other renowned musicians.
Concert with the Camerata Romeu.
6 pm
Oct 25
Concert of works by Cuban composer Juan Piñera
6 pm
Casa del ALBA Cultural
Oct 5
En Confluencia, conducted by guitarists Eduardo and Galy Martín.
5 pm
Oct 12
Tarde de Concierto, conducted by soprano Lucy Provedo.
5 pm
Oct 19
De Nuestra América, conducted by pianist Alicia Perea.
5 pm
Oct 26
Concert by guitarist Rosa Matos.
5 pm
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Produced by
Centro Hispano Americano de Cultura
Oct 15
5 pm
Oct 18
Concert Trova de Cámara, with version from Cuban Trova interpreted by Annie Garcés
Santana, accompanied by a string ensemble from the Guillermo Tomás Conservatory.
Lyrical gala directed by Pedro Arias Domínguez.
5 pm
Biblioteca Nacional José Martí
Oct 11
Concert with Ensemble Solistas de La Habana conducted by Iván Valiente.
4 pm
Oct 18
Recital by saxophonist Javier Zalba and pianist María del Henar Navarro.
4 pm
Museo Nacional de Bella Artes. Edificio de Arte Universal
Oct 11
3 pm
The Vocal Leo choir will sing Cuban and Latin American pieces and have invited the percussion
group from the Guillermo Tomás Conservatory to their performance.
Oratorio San Felipe Neri
Oct 23
Concert by clarinetist Arístides Porto accompanied byu a chamber ensemble.
7 pm
Oct 25
Piano recital by Lianne Vega who will play pieces by Beethoven, Liszt and Liget.
4 pm
Oct 30
6 pm
Presentation of the Polish soprano Dominika Zamara and the Mexian pianist Alejandro
Sala Covarrubias, Teatro Nacional
National Symphony Orchestra
5 pm
Sala Gonzalo Roig. Palacio del Teatro Lírico Nacional
Oct 26
Cuerda Dominical with guitarist Luis Manuel Molina.
5 pm
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Edificio de Arte Cubano
Oct 4
3 pm
Directed by María Felicia Pérez Concert, the Exaudi Choir wuill sing religious songs from
the Romantic period (Mendelssohn, Elgar, Saint Saëns and Gounod); contemporary pieces
(Knut Nystedt [Norway], György Orbán [Hungary] and César Carrillo [Venezuela]; and Cuban,
Argentinean and Venezuelan popular music.
Oratorio San Felipe Neri
Oct 5
Piano recital by Yadasny Portillo.
6 pm
Oct 17
Concert with the Lyceum Mozartiano Chamber orchestra conducted by José Antonio Méndez.
6 pm
Oct 19
6 pm
The violinist Evelio Tieles qill play works by Mozart and Cuban composers Guillermo Tomás
and Julián Orbón, with guests Iresis García Chao (violin), Roberto Herrera Díaz (viola) and
Alejandro Rodríguez Tirado (cello).
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Produced by
Neurótica Anónima
Directed by Joel Angelino, Opens in late
October, Sala Adolfo Llauradó
Authored and starred by renowned Cuban actress
Mirtha Ibarra, the play is about an usher (Mirtha)
of a movie theater that will be soon be demolished.
She lives her life through the lives of the actresses
in the movies she has seen—lives that are very
different from the real life she leads in the company
of a gay janitor and the projectionist who is in love
with her but whom she despises, considering him
not only mediocre but a coward.
Cuentos del campamento
Té-Atro / Directed by Elio Fidel López, Tue,
Wed & Thurs, 6pm, Sala teatro de la Orden
Aimed at the teenage public, the play deals with
actual events that occurred during a “School
goes to the countryside” program, related to the
characters’ past, future and dreams.
Caperucita Roja, el
Joel Angleino Company / Directed by Joel
Angelino, Oct 25, 8:30pm; Oct 26, 5pm, Teatro
The Spain-based Cuban actor Joel Angelino
(Germán in Fresa y Chocolate) will premiere in
Cuba his own musical version of the immortal
story, which, in his own words, suggests “a
dialogue among generations, tolerance towards
differences and harmonious coexistence.”
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Produced by
Panorama desde el puente
ViTal Teatro / Directed by Alejandro Palomino
Fri, & Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 5pm, Teatro Raquel
This play by Arthur Miller, adapted to the Cuban
scene by Amado del Pino and Alejandro Palomino,
addresses the conflict in a family descended from
immigrants who decide to welcome into their
home two young compatriots who want to restart
their lives.
Antigonón, un
contingente épico
Teatro El Público / Directed by Carlos Díaz
Fri & Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 5pm, Teatro Trianón
Antigonón, un contingente épico, Carlos Diaz
and his troupe, Teatro el Publico’s most recent
performance involves a trip back to the classics,
guided and partnered by Rogelio Orizondo who
wrote Antigonón, un contingente épico especially
for them. Carlos is the most well-known and
brilliant Cuban theatre director with a reputation
for directing plays with abundant nudity,
transvestites and subtle winks at the Cuban
national reality. Antigonón does not disappoint—
go see it for yourself!
The Phantom of the Opera
Sat & Sun, 9pm, Anfiteatro de La Habana Vieja
Alfonso Menéndez celebrates his 30th anniversary
in show business with The Phantom of the Opera,
the famous musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Menéndez is responsible for the script, Spanish
version and production of the musical. The main
roles will be interpreted by Maylú Hernández/
Marla Pileta as Christine; José Luis Pérez/Andrés
Sánchez as The Phantom; and Rigoberto López/
Rogelio Rivas as Raoul, who will be accompanied
by a cast of young singers, many of whom are
newcomers to the stage. Also participating in the
production are the Ballet de la Televisión Cubana
and the Ballet de Bertha Casañas.
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For kids
Teatro La Proa, Oct 10 & 17, 3pm; Oct 11-12,
18-19, 11pm & 5pm, Teatro Nacional de Guiñol
Through puppets, games and traditional songs,
two puppeteer friends tell four classic stories:
Historia de burros and El perro y el burro by
René Fernández Santana; El Burro Caturro
Perimpimplujo by Jesús del Castillo, and Platero y
yo by Juan Ramón Jiménez.
Muy Cubano...
Circo Nacional de Cuba, Sat & Sun, 4pm &
7pm, Carpa Trompoloco
Brand new circus show with exciting acts
combined with the vernacular humor that the first
circuses in Cuba were based on. The kids will love
the clowns, the trained animals, the fire-eaters, as
well as other highly skilled acts, such as aerial silk,
tumbling and trampoline, juggling, acrobatics, and
much more.
La Colmenita
Photo by Alex Mene
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Produced by
Teatro de Títeres El Arca
Avenida del Puerto y calle Obrapía, Habana Vieja
Funciones: viernes, sábados y domingos, 3 pm
El Arca: Where new puppets are born
by Margaret Atkins
photos by Y. Monte
Ever since an old popular song fixed in the memory
of every Cuban the tragic death of Lola, a woman
of questionable moral who was killed by her lover
at 3pm, this hour in the afternoon would forever
be dubbed “the time when Lola was killed.”
Today, however, at least for the kids who live in Old
Havana, this time of day has a completely different
connotation—it’s puppet show time.
“After the kids have played out in the sun in the
nearby park, they come to El Arca and take refuge
here,” says director Liliana Pérez Recio as she
welcomes us to Teatro de Títeres El Arca—The Ark
Puppet Theater—where in a lovely room the actors
are rehearsing a puppet version of Shakespeare’s A
Midsummer Night’s Dream.
When we ask Liliana how El Arca came to be,
she tells us about her student days at the Higher
Institute of the Arts (ISA) when a group of students
gathered round researcher, playwright and theater
expert Freddy Artiles who devoted his career to
the validation of the at times misunderstood art of
puppetry; of the nearly ten years she spent with the
Guiñol National, Cuba’s national Puppet Theater
and of her relationship with Roberto Fernández,
a director with a lengthy and fruitful stage career
who was her teacher and friend. And of course,
she tells us about Eusebio Leal, Historian of the
City of Havana, heart and soul of the revitalization
With a capacity for 64 spectators, El Arca is situated
on the ground floor of Casa Pedroso, whose upper
floors are home to the Office of the City Historian
of Havana. Liliana takes us around the place, which
includes the theater, the typical central courtyard
of Cuban colonial homes, and the puppet museum.
El Arca is located right across the Bay of Havana
and the environment is the pretext for the name:
El Arca (The Ark) the refuge where puppets come
to life and where they travel from one show to
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project of Old Havana, who never forgot a project
suggested to him by a group who wanted to set up
a street puppet theater. “Several years had passed
and you might think he wouldn’t remember, but
one day we met here on the corner and Leal said,
‘What are you doing? Are you free? Come with me.’
He took me by the hand and showed me this place,
recited some verses by Calderón de la Barca and
asked me, ‘It’s a theater, isn’t it?’ And that’s how
it all began,” Liliana tells us, clearly showing her
emotion from knowing that her dream came true.
From the very beginning, the project included a
puppet museum. “I asked Eusebio,” Liliana recalls,
“How can we have a museum if we don’t have a
collection?” And he replied, “Don’t worry, we’ll have
one somehow.” “But we have no money,” I said, “so
where will we get the puppets?” “We’ll have one
somehow,” he said again. Liliana’s eyes shine when
she speaks of the City Historian. She can’t hide her
respect and admiration for Leal. The adventure of
traveling throughout the island knocking on the
doors of puppet theaters everywhere in search of
pieces for the museum began in 2008. “First we
went to the provinces,” says the director of El Arca,
“and told everyone that we were going to create
a museum and that we wanted all the puppeteers
and puppet troupes in the island to be represented
in this museum.”
It was neither a quick nor an easy task. Some
groups that had been important in the history
of puppetry in Cuba no longer existed and many
pieces were in the hands of people who had
already retired, or of family members who usually
had no idea how to preserve them properly.
“So, step by step, we began to create a Cuban
collection,” and Liliana continues, “I believe that
right now our collection has an acceptable level
of representation, which reflects certain features
that allow us to speak of Cuban puppetry. We owe
our international collection to donations made by
friends from Belgium, Africa, Spain, India, Brazil,
Peru, Mexico. And while some puppets, for some
reason or another, may not be extremely valuable
as museum pieces, they have an educational value
for us.” The idea is to have an interactive museum
in which the children will be able to understand
and learn the different puppetry techniques and
to handle puppets. “Our aim is to make it fun,”
assures Liliana.
El Arca Theater opened with “Lilo’s Cat,” a shadow
play. This technique was not common in Cuba and
Liliana explains further: “Many people thought
that El Arca was a theater for shadow plays and I
always say, ‘No, El Arca is a laboratory, today it may
be shadow plays and tomorrow something else.’”
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And in justification of these words, she tells us
about the premiere of The Musicians of Bremen
and Brazos Caídos adapted both for paper theater,
also called toy or model theater. This is the
result of a paper theater workshop for children
and adolescents who live in the Historic Center.
Like many other institutions in the area, El Arca
gives participation to the local community in the
cultural process that is part of the revitalization
and preservation program of Old Havana’s Historic
At the time of our interview, the company
was preparing Sueño de una noche de verano
based on William Shakespeare’s immortal A
Midsummer Night’s Dream. This show has become
a hard learning process especially for the less
experienced actors who have had to work with rod
puppets for the first time, in addition to the text
by Shakespeare, quite different from the everyday
language they are used to working with.
Like the biblical Ark, El Arca is a refuge and a place
of promise where new puppets are born to help
populate the rich world of Cuban puppetry.
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Semana Británica en la Habana: Tremendo swing!
Del 9 al 19 de octubre estaremos celebrando diez días con muchísimo swing al mejor estilo británico. No
faltarán el cine, la música, el teatro, la historia y mucho más. ¡Algo muy especial !
Cine de primera
Ven con nosotros al Cine 23 y 12. “La mujer invisible” dirigida por Ralph Fiennes y “El Gigante egoísta”
del Dir. Clio Barnard son, entre otros filmes los platos fuertes de esta oferta cinematográfica.
“Tropical con swing”
¡Para los cardiacos a la música más movida, el viernes 17 los esperamos con nuestro gran concierto
“Tropical con Swing” en el Salón Rosado de la Tropical! ¡No te pierdas a Déjá vu, Robertico Carcasses e
Interactivo! Y para los más clásicos, la Camerata Romeu y la joven y talentosa violinista británica Ruth
Palmer ofrecerán un concierto el sábado 18 de octubre.
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Produced by
3rd Month of Brazilian Culture in Cuba
October 1-31, 2014
Different venues in Havana
Lovers of Brazilian culture will have a blast with
the wide and diverse program that has been
organized for the entire month of October in the
Cuban capital, thanks to the joint efforts of the
Brazilian Embassy in Cuba, the Cuban Ministry of
Culture, ICAIC, Casa de las Am¬é¬ricas and other
participating institutions.
The Brazilian Culture Month opens with a concert by sax player César López and Habana Ensemble,
which will be followed in subsequent days by a varied program that includes, among other, theater,
visual arts and photography exhibitions, lectures and cinema. The latter will occupy a privileged space
with the Brazil Film Club, which screens and discusses films from different epochs¸ genres and trends,
every Wednesday at 3:00 pm at Multicine Infanta, and especially with the series of feature films as a
tribute to the popular actor José Wilker, who passed away in April this year. The films will be shown at
Sala Charlot of the Chaplin Theater from October 1-15.
Casa de las Américas
Oct 23
7 pm
Opening of the 3rd Brazilian Month with a Brazilian music concert featuring sax player César
López and Habana Ensemble
Jazz Café
Oct 4
Brazilian Night: Performance by César López and Habana Ensemble
Fábrica de Arte Cubano
Oct 18
Launching of the DVD “La Pena de Malandro,” an autobiographical documentary about the
musical trajectory of the Cuban singer-songwriter Yolo Bonilla and his love for Brazilian
Casa de las Américas
Oct 1 - 31
Exhibition of significant Brazilian artwork from the Casa de las Américas collection
7 pm
Casa de las Américas Library
Oct 22-31,
opens Oct
22, 4pm
A retrospective of Brazilian literature with an exhibition of books and documents from the
institution’s collection
Fábrica de Arte Cubano
Oct 16-31,
opens Oct
16, 6pm
Photographic exhibition: Capoeira Cubana
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Produced by
Casa de África
Exhibition Arts & crafts: Skills and Traditions
Oct 18
10 am
Centro Fe y Cultura Loyola
Teatro Nacional Guiñol
Fábrica de Arte Cubano
Oct 18-19
Oct 24, 3pm; 25-26,
11am & 5pm
Oct 31
10 am
9 pm
A Farsa do Boi ou o Desejo de Catirina, Teatro Viajero. Puppet show that mixes African-Brazilian culture with
legends from Amazonia.
Theoretical events
Fábrica de Arte Cubano
Lecture: The Sao Paulo Biennial, Courses of Action and Challenges
Oct 16
7 pm
Casa de las Américas Library
Panel: Presence of Paulo Freire in Cuban educational institutions.
Oct 22
Danza-Teatro retazos
Fábrica de Arte Cubano
Plaza Vieja
Oct 15
Oct 16-18,
Oct 19
5 pm
Performances of Capoeira, an African-Brazilian tradition
The event will pay special tribute to actor José Wilker (1947-2014) from October 1-15. The opening will
be held on October 2, 8:30pm at Cine 23 y 12 with the film El hombre de la capa negra
Sala Charlot, Charles Chaplin theater
October 1
2 pm Los inconfidentes
5 pm Doña Flor y sus dos maridos
October 9
2 pm Giovanni Improtta
5 pm Los inconfidentes
October 2
2pm & 5pm Jango
October 10
October 3
2 pm El hombre de la capa negra
5 pm La batalla de canudos
2 pm Doña Flor y sus dos maridos
5 pm El hombre de la capa negra
October 11
2 pm La batalla de canudos
October 12
2 pm María, madre del Hijo de Dios
5 pm El hombre del año
October 14
2 pm El mayor amor del mundo
5 pm Embarque inmediato
2 pm Romance
5 pm Giovanni Improtta
October 4
2 pm El hombre del año
5 pm María, madre del Hijo de Dios
October 5
2 pm Redentor
5 pm El mayor amor del mundo
October 7
2 pm Canta María
5 pm romance
2 pm Embarque inmediato
5 pm El bien amado
October 8
October 15
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Around Cuba
Fiesta de la Cultura
October 24-30, Casa de Iberoamérica, Holguín
The Ibero-American Culture Festival seeks to
recover and promote the Spanish roots and
background of Ibero-American nations through
a program of concerts, exhibitions, workshops
and popular festivities, with the participation of
important Cuban artists and guests from all over
Ibero-America. A different festivity is held each day,
including the Fiesta de la Semilla (the recreation
of Ibero-American cultural roots), Fiesta de los
Tambores (drum festivity), Fiesta de las Guitarras
(Guitar Fest), Fiesta de la Solidaridad (cultural
dialogue among the communities of Iberian
natives and descendants, the neighborhoods and
the visitors, which aims to promote joint projects)
and Fiesta de los Pueblos (a celebration of the
identity built from the American confluence of
different ethnic groups and cultures).
Fiesta de la Cubanía
October 17-20, City of Bayamo
Art and culture in a festival that contributes
to a reunion with the roots of the nation. The
theoretical section of the event will deal with
the topic The Melting Pot of Cuban Nationality.
Highlights of the event include a solo exhibition
by Ever Fonseca, National Visual Arts Prizewinner
2012; performances by Pancho Amat, Tony Ávila,
Enit y su Piquete, Bororó y su Re Mayor, Arturo
Jorge y su Cuarteto Tradición; Reynier Mariño
and his band, and a special show with the popular
comedian Kike Quiñones. Other activities include
fashion shows and the sale of books. The gala on
Cuban Culture Day will take place as usual at Plaza
del Himno Nacional de Bayamo on October 20. On
this occasion, a wax figure of the late musician
Juan Formell will be unveiled and His band, Los
Van Van will close the festivitoes with a special
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Produced by
photos by Alex Mene
Driving through Cuba’s provincial heart with hitchhikers
by Lydia Bell
An old man, with a warm smile decorated by a single tooth, is our hitcher of choice for the morning.
His wiry grandson helps him haul a bulky package into our rented car, which emits a loud grunt.
‘The pig,’ the old man announces in Spanish, ‘is for my eightieth birthday party on Thursday.’
In Cuba, a country where a vehicle is a precious
commodity, hitchhiking is popular. In the mindnumbing heat, those resigned to waiting for a ride
are found killing time in patches of shade. If I drive
past a hitcher, my Cuban husband tuts in reproach.
We are in the Central Provinces of Cuba, the
middle chunk of this long streak of island, and in
search of the country’s provincial face. We start
awkwardly, in commercialized Varadero, where
poolside bingo, stale buffets, and cabaret dancers
in cerise spandex are easy to leave behind. This
close to such self-indulgences, the revolutionary
posters that plaster the road out of Varadero read
strangely. Patriotism or death. Revolution forever.
Quickly though, the spanking bitumen peters
out into potholed pathway as we amble through
modest villages, and after two hours we are in
Cienfuegos, a port city on the south coast.
An adolescent hustler on a pushbike screeches to
a halt beside us. We arrange for him to pick us up
later so we can check out some paladares (private
restaurants in the homes of locals). This will set
the tone for most of our evenings in the Central
Provinces: being whisked around by ‘jineteros’
(aka, hustlers). They get a bad rep, but their
commissions are small and they are helpful. This
one secures me a £4 seafood grill in a cosy paladar
decorated with wall-mounted crustaceans. I can’t
reveal the location, since the trade is illegal in
Cuba—but you’ll find it if you want to.
To reach Trinidad, our next destination, we edge
through the foothills of the palm-smothered
Escambray Mountains, then dip down to the
coast, passing quiet villages backed by mountains
and roads crisscrossed by giant crabs. Without
20-something Abelito in the car (going to visit his
mother in Trinidad), we would certainly have got
lost. There is a dearth of road signs. Trinidad is
simply the most handsome town in Cuba, in one of
the most idyllic provinces, Sancti Spiritus. Founded
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feels workaday, its concrete-boxes in shades of
peeling pastel, but the town has life, and history.
The university is dominant, especially its medical
school. Students throng the humming streets,
many sporting white coats and stethoscopes.
Next morning we leave for our final destination:
Camagüey, a four hour drive away through flat
plains, crisscrossing over railway lines choked
with weeds. Cuba’s third largest city—which still
feels like a village—is enchanting, especially the
Colón hotel, where we are staying. Built in 1927
and apparently unaltered since, it has a soberly
mysterious air and an elaborate mahogany bar.
We arrive on a Saturday, the night of the weekly
street party. There are trestle tables, pigs on spits,
copious children and the ubiquitous reggaeton
music that has ousted salsa for the Cuban under25s.
Camagüey’s streets are full of blind alleys and
forked streets—a deliberate ploy to foil the pirates
who plagued this part of Cuba in the 16th century.
Away from the main drag, the town is deserted, its
streets strings of genteel terraced houses slinking
away down the next curve, where you might find
in a quiet square a ruined church with a oncegrandiose façade.
in 1514, the giant village—for that’s all it really is—is
wedged between the towering Escambray range
and shimmering coast. It was once an important
colonial town, which grew fat on sugar between
1750 and 1850, when its lavishly beautiful valleys
were dotted with scores of sugar mills.
When the slaves were freed, fortunes dipped and
Trinidad stopped growing. Today, it’s an exquisitely
preserved museum piece of cobblestone streets
and sumptuous squares. Walk a few streets and
the village peters out into red earth, drooping
palms and mountains. Drive eight kilometres and
you reach a perfect stretch of beach, Peninsula
Ancón, where you step out of your cabana onto
white sand. We go in search of views: of red-tiled
roofs, sea and mountain from the bell tower of the
Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos, and
of the soaring countryside from the ruined church
We visit the Plaza de la Revolución, reverberatingly
empty but for a group of adolescents, kitted out
in the full all-American regalia and engaged in
a baseball game of some skill. Unbelievably, we
come across Pedro, our ancient hitcher, sans
pig. ‘Tomorrow!’ he reminds us delightedly. ‘My
eightieth!’ So the pig’s time is over then. And so is
ours. Tomorrow we hit the road again, this time
back to Havana, and then the modern world. We
have grown attached to the simple charms of the
provinces. On our way home we stop to join the
locals on the marble benches of a sleepy square.
We stay there till the sun fades then walk back
through silent streets.
Next stop, Santa Clara, capital of Villa Clara
province, and home to the eternal flame that
commemorates Che Guevara’s burial place. We
pass through villages, glimpsing the kind of rural
life lost in the rest of the Caribbean: oxen ploughing
fields; farmers sowing crops by hand. Santa Clara
Lydia Bell is a brilliant award-winning freelance travel and features journalist. See www.lydiabell.co.uk for more information.
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photos by Ana Lorena
Camagüey: Languishing in a city designed for pirates
by Jill Worrell
When you’re in the Caribbean, walking around
a town designed especially to deter rampaging
pirates, it can be difficult to let go the image of a
swashbuckling charmer with dreadlocks and eyes
lined with kohl. Well, it is for me. However, the
history of the real pirates of the Caribbean is much
less picturesque than Johnny Depp. For about 200
years, from the mid-1500s, pirates, privateers and
buccaneers terrorised Cuba (as they did all of the
Among the pirates who sacked Camagüey was Sir
Henry Morgan, one of the most notorious of all.
Technically, Henry Morgan was not a pirate but a
privateer. So, bear with me while I veer slightly off
course to explain the difference.
Remarkably, they did not just attack, burn and
pillage towns on the coast. Camagüey, which is in
the centre of the island, was targeted so frequently
by pirates in the 1600s that its street plan was
devised like a maze to disorient them.
Privateers were men with privately owned ships
who were contracted by a nation at war to attack its
enemies’ ships and in some cases towns and cities.
Henry Morgan was contracted by the English who
were at war with the Spanish at the time.
Camagüey began life as the Spanish coastal town
of Santa María del Puerto del Príncipe in 1514. It
was relocated inland just 14 years later, ironically,
not to escape the pirates but after battles with the
local Indian population.
Unlike almost every other Spanish colonial city,
Camagüey is not built on a grid system with
square plazas. Instead, to confound marauding
pirates it has labyrinthine streets and narrow
alleyways. Today there’s the added advantage that
these twisting lanes keep out the tour buses and
encourage tours on foot or bicitaxi (the Cuban
version of a bicycle rickshaw).
Pirates, most simply put, are robbers with ships.
Traditionally pirates had no allegiance to any
country or power, but were literally a law unto
themselves. One of the most famous pirates of all
times was Blackbeard (Edward Teach).
Also operating in the Caribbean were the
buccaneers. The word buccaneer originates from
a word in the local Caribbean language related
to dried meat—especially manatee. The original
buccaneers traded this meat but eventually began
attacking ships, especially Spanish ones, as well
as raiding towns. Apparently it was a lot more
The lines between a buccaneer and privateer are
very blurred. It’s also true that one nation’s hero is
another’s privateer. Sir Francis Drake, for example,
was lauded by the English as a legendary sailor
and explorer but was detested by the Spanish who
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Eventually we got the list and pored over it. I was
sure now that bag was with one of two groups, one
of which was doing a walking tour of Camagüey’s
streets, the other was on the road, an hour ahead
of us.
“We need to ring their tour guides,” I said. Everyone
agreed…and did nothing.
“So can you find the phone numbers and call
them?” I pleaded, only just refraining from bashing
my head a few times on top of the reception
counter at the same time.
photo by Alex mene
regarded him as a privateer and nicknamed him
The Dragon.
But, back to the ancient streets of Camagüey where
Admiral Sir Henry Morgan once rampaged. They
are now listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site
and were at the time of my last visit, the scene of
an inadvertent luggage heist.
I had had a group over-nighting in one of the town’s
few hotels situated in the historic quarter. Because
the street outside had been pedestrianised, this
made shifting luggage in and out quite a mission.
Porters had to load up trolleys and push bags
through the crowded shopping street and load the
bus at breakneck speed. Speed was crucial because
the nearest access point was a narrow one-way
road that would be temporarily blocked while this
manoeuvre took place. The driver was always on
edge because despite there being no alternative
to this, the traffic police inevitably would descend
waiving a ticket book.
“I don’t have their numbers,” said the manager. I
suggested he call their head office and ask, while
wondering if it might be quicker if I vaulted the
counter and did it myself.
By now one of the porters had discovered a
hitherto untapped vein of initiative and offered
to dash through the streets to find the tour guide
with the walking party. Meanwhile we’d discovered
that the other tour guide had his phone turned off.
The porter returned puffed and sweaty from his
jog around Camagüey’s unique winding streets to
tell me that the guide still in town had checked his
bags and there were no extras. By now, our bus
was waiting to be loaded so there was nothing for
it, we’d have to hunt down the other bus en route.
So, there we were poised to set off with the luggage
when I noticed one of our bags was missing. As
is often the case in countries where Latino male
egos can run rampant, the staff first of all decided
that either I hadn’t counted properly or I was
responsible for the lost item.
After putting those theories to rest, I tried to
instill a sense of urgency among the front desk
staff and the porters. I doubted the bag had been
magicked away by modern-day pirates but it
had to be somewhere. There had been two other
groups staying in the hotel that night and both had
already departed.
“Maybe the bag was taken by another group by
mistake,” I suggested. The staff all nodded and
smiled. “Sí, sí, that is what happened.” Apparently
that was case closed, so to speak.
“So maybe I could see their rooming list and see if
they had group members in rooms near my client?”
I asked. The desk manager beamed. “Good idea.”
He made no attempt to find the list.
“So can I have a look at the list,” I said, trying not to
let my voice go up an octave in frustration.
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We hurtled east, the highway almost empty of
other motorised traffic, our progress checked only
by some prodigious potholes and corrugations and
by the necessity of dodging around horse-drawn
taxi carriages.
The porter, who had now more or less admitted that
he was responsible for the hijacking of one of my
bags, was travelling with us and every few minutes
kept trying the guide’s cellphone. The pressure
was on as the coach ahead of us was due to turn
off and head for Cuba’s northern beach resorts; we
were not. There was one café at the road junction
where the bag could be left, otherwise it would be
off for a week’s sand and surf without its owner.
Which is why we ended up at a police checkpoint,
where the helpful officers kindly put out a call to
stop the bus of unsuspecting European tourists
and search for our bag. Luckily before they
succeeded in flagging it down, the guide turned
his phone on. He unearthed the bag and dropped
it off at the café where we found it sitting beside
the bar about 20 minutes later.
The afternoon before the kidnap, we had taken
to Camagüey’s streets in less dramatic fashion.
Because the town lies outside Cuba’s main tourist
trail, such as it is, you’re unlikely to meet many
other visitors here. It’s an easy place to walk
around (and to get lost in) but much more fun is
to hire a bicitaxi on which to rattle around the
cobblestone lanes. If you’re lucky, your bicitaxi
might be equipped with its own sound system (ie
ancient boom box tied to the back axle).
The cyclists will take a rest, stretch out languidly
along their bikes while passengers walk along
the pedestrianised street leading to the Plaza del
Carmen. A 19th-century church dominates one
side of the square but what steals the show here
is a series of bronze sculptures by Cuban artist
Martha Jiménez created some years ago. The
sculptor used local people as models.
One of the sculptures is of a man wearing a
baseball cap sitting on a bench reading the
newspaper. Rather poignantly, the subject, now a
little more lined and stooped, comes to the square
to sit beside it, complete with cap and newspaper,
waiting for tourists to make the connection. He’s
been there two years running, which I find a little
sad. I shamelessly cajole my group members to
leave him small tips.
With so little motorised transport here, even nonpedestrianised streets are claimed by Camagüey’s
residents. In the late afternoon, as the sunlight
softens, people spill out of their houses, most of
which open directly on to narrow pavements.
Old ladies sat on rocking chairs in their doorways,
men leaned on walls and smoke cigars, boys kicked
footballs over the cobbles and young women in
skintight lycra wiggled past.
I wandered around a corner and almost fell into
a game of dominoes that had been set up in the
road. A vocal audience surrounded the players as
they slapped their tiles down on the table.
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Back to the future in Havana’s Barrio Chino
by Ricardo Alberto Pérez
I’ve always enjoyed waking around Chinatown
early in the morning, when the streets are filled
with senior citizens. As they walk around, I realize
every one of them has a different story—one that,
no doubt, holds substantial wisdom. Today, eight of
them live at 506 Manrique St., in a building known
as Residencia China. Watching them go about their
daily routines is also a way to understand the past.
I’ve always enjoyed waking around Chinatown
early in the morning, when the streets are filled
with senior citizens. As they walk around, I realize
every one of them has a different story—one that,
no doubt, holds substantial wisdom. Today, eight of
them live at 506 Manrique St., in a building known
as Residencia China. Watching them go about their
daily routines is also a way to understand the past.
According to historians, the first Chinese
immigrants settled in Havana around 1858. Chang
Leng, owner of a modest restaurant, and Lam
Siu Yi, who owned a fruit and vegetable stand
were among them. From then on to the early
20th century, a considerable amount of Chinese
immigrants arrived in Cuba. A population of
nearly 10,000 inhabitants occupied approximately
ten blocks, which today make up the Chinatown
The relocation of these Chinese immigrants to
Cuba implied a relocation also of their complex
photo by Y. monte
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Liberation Army during the Cuban Independence
Wars. Although their impressive work capacity
had led them to successfully develop numerous
business activities, an internal struggle to gain
control of the district broke out, leading to the
proliferation of casinos, opium dens and brothels.
photo by Alex Mene
photo by Alex Mene
The last large wave of Chinese immigrants took
place in the 1920s, and by 1930, the Chinese
community in Cuba consisted of 24,000 people.
At the time, Havana’s Chinatown had achieved an
image of its own, not for its architecture, but to
the feel of the district and its people.
After 1959, the casinos, opium dens and brothels
were closed down, but the rest of the district
remained untouched, as frozen in time. The year
1990 marked a new era for Havana’s Chinatown—a
movement began to preserve the old festivities
and traditions, as well as to restore and reopen
the restaurants in the area. As a result, the area
has become one of the city’s liveliest districts. The
spirit of Chinese commerce hasn’t been lost; on
the contrary, it has overcome one difficulty after
another for over a century and a half. Restaurants
cultural identity. As they settled among us, they
created the necessary structure to continue with
their lifestyles. This is how, among other things,
they opened a printing press and got to have three
newspapers in circulation. Likewise, the Chinese
theater became notably active with venues that
included the Águila de Oro (today a movie theater)
located at 104 Rayo St., on the corner of Rayo and
Cuchillo streets in Centro Habana.
In these first theaters, both women and men would
play roles of either sex and in addition to acting,
they also mastered singing, acrobatics, pantomime
and martial arts. The operas performed on these
stages featuring Chinese actors from California
received widespread coverage.
photo by Humberto Mayol
Chinese medicine was also introduced in Cuba. As
a result, an extraordinary drugstore was opened
in which a wide range of medicinal products—
mainly of a homeopathic nature—have been sold
for over a century. Although conceived for the
Chinese community, this drugstore has always
been very popular among Cubans and, in a way,
has contributed to changing our healing habits.
As it happens with all relocations, the immigration
of Chinese men and women to Cuba was a
distressingly painful process. Many of the
newcomers were forced to take the place of African
slaves and a large number of them joined the
photo by Humberto Mayol
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have proliferated and their menus offer a wide
variety of dishes from both the Cuban and Chinese
Ever since it was opened in 1995, the Casa de las
Artes y Tradiciones Chinas (House of Chinese Arts
and Tradition) has been developing a sociocultural
program aimed at spreading the thousandyear-old culture and the values of the Chinese
community in Cuba. This center holds a large
number of Chinese items, most of which have
been donated to the institution by the people of
Barrio Chino. Curiously enough, the vestibule of
the building that houses the center features the
family tree of renowned Cuban painter of Chinese
origin Flora Fong, through which she pays special
tribute to her ancestors.
The district, which is limited by Escobar,
Galiano, San José and Reina streets, is perceived
in a peculiar way. The mystery of tradition has
pervaded this city area and has given it a richness
that can only be obtained where the essence
of solid cultural traditions is incorporated into
a foreign environment. The thousand-year-old
culture came to the energetic Caribbean to stay
and created a space where the two exotic cultures
collide and coexist.
The arrival of African slaves may have marked our
nation exceptionally, but the Chinese made our
mix even more beautiful. The mix of the two races
never ceases to amaze me with its variations of
beauty. Just a few days ago, as I was walking down
Barrio Chino’s short boulevard, the sight of two
gorgeous “Chinese-mulatto” girls impressed me so
much that I can only define them as the greatest
expressions of sensuality. As I gazed upon them,
I was secretly celebrating the frenzy that results
from such an amazing mix.
photo by Alex Mene
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The Gentleman from Paris
(El Caballero de París)
by Margaret Atkins
photo by Y. Monte
Among Havana’s many charming stories, the
legend of the Caballero de París (literally, the
Gentleman from Paris) is one of the loveliest.
In the early 20th century, this immigrant from
Galicia, an unsuccessful restaurant server in his
teens, was sent to El Príncipe Penitentiary, where
he became ill before being released. A renowned
lunatic and unforgettable character, the remains
of the Caballero de París lie today in a crypt in the
Basílica Menor del Convento de San Francisco de
Asís, the very same place that holds the remains
of viceroys, admirals, famous monks and other
important persons. The Caballero de París, who
proclaimed himself king and god, has become a
sort of miracle-working saint by the divine grace
and will of the people. And half serious and half
joking, people who pass by the convent touch
the beard, a finger or the cheeks of the statue (by
renowned artist José Villa Soberón) erected in his
memory with the hope of fulfilling a wish or having
some good fortune.
When he was born in Fonsagrada, Lugo, Galicia,
Spain, he was baptized José María López Lledín,
but he lost his name when he quit his job, let his
hair and beard grow and began to wander around
Havana, which he did for over fifty years. Dressed
in French-style suit and coat, with no place to live
but the streets of the city (which he baptized his
“Dulcinea”), his appearance reminds us of Don
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The adventures of Andrés began at the age of 16
when he quit school. Pressed by his mother, he
began to work at a large spinning mill. He would have
stayed there, in anonymity, had he not overheard
of an announcement to join a group of theater
aficionados. And this is precisely what he became:
a stage aficionado who had a long training period.
But then came the day when he felt he needed
more and found what he was looking for in Cuban
stage actor and director Vicente Revuelta (founder
of the emblematic company Teatro Estudio, which
at one point in time was the best of Cuban theater).
Under Vicente, Andrés told me, a new world
opened up to him and he became a professional
actior. But things were very unstable with Vicente,
mainly due to his psychological disorder (and once
more a halo of illustrious craziness surrounds
this story) and Andrés found himself unemployed
again. Then he took a crucial decision: to continue
trying until he was 30—that would be his limit. If he
hadn’t made a name for himself by then, he would
give up the pursuit of art. When he failed to meet
the deadline he had set for himself, he headed for a
cigar factory to learn the craft of cigar rolling. And
it was precisely then when he was asked to play
a mute monk in a soap opera directed by a friend
from his days of aficionado. The character already
had the solemnity of the Caballero, whose spirit
would seem to haunt Andrés forever.
Quixote—a French-Creole Quixote who was fed
and looked after by the inhabitants of the city.
And although he sometimes became the target of
mockery and humiliation, there were always more
people looking after him than trying to hurt him.
But the Caballero de París was no beggar. He would
write love letters for free for those who requested
his services and give flowers to the ladies who
would stop and talk with him. He always had a
lucid phrase or verse that would amaze those
aware of his condition. And he would not take
what was offered to him without giving something
in return—a paper fan, a torn page from some old
book of poems, a pencil or a feather adorned with
colored ribbons.
But fate took its time. Andrés joined Argos
Teatro, one of Havana’s most renowned theater
companies, directed by Carlos Celdrán, and a
while later went back to working with Vicente. But
when the company Giganterías was created under
the auspices of the Office of the City Historian to
fill the streets of Old Havana with color and music,
he felt drawn by the company’s multifaceted work.
The living statue thing came a bit later. There
was no tradition in Cuba of this form of street art
whatsoever, despite being so common in large
cities. However, after a Colombian company
introduced it in Havana back in the 1990s—although
Ever since he was admitted to the Psychiatric
Hospital in 1977 because of his deteriorated health
condition and after his death in 1895, Havana
thought he had been lost forever. The statue is
beautiful, but it’s just standing there, cold bronze.
Now, however, you can get to meet him in the form
of a living statue thanks to the amazing work of
Andrés Enrique Pérez Viciedo, a Habanero whose
story is just as romantic as the Caballero de París’s.
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employment and passion, has allowed him to
transform, with little effort, into the legendary
character of the Caballero de París.
not for the street, but for the stage—this art form
was introduced as part of Giganterías’ repertory.
Today, living statues are part of the attractions Old
Havana has to offer. There are statues of pirates,
angels, old photographers in sepia, a piper, a mother
and her baby. Their costumes and makeup imitate
bronze, silver, clay. Most performers—professional
actors who have undergone extensive training—
take their characters very seriously and remain
with their eyes closed, breathing imperceptibly
until the sound of a coin magically wakes them
up. Here in Havana, Andrés was the first actor to
take the streets as a living statue. The figure of this
48-year-old man who has found a new lifestyle,
The Caballero de París (first José and now Andrés)
makes a woman from overseas smile, and thanks
her for the coin she has left in his bag by giving her
a paper fan made of old newspapers. The woman,
who is magically transformed by the charm of the
moment into a fair lady of colonial times, keeps the
fan close to her heart. Could this humble present
possibly become one of her dearest souvenirs from
her visit to Cuba? It makes you laugh and cry, all
at once, seeing that touch of delirium in the eyes
of the Caballero (now Andrés, first José) when,
besieged by a group of adolescents, he comes out
of his immobility and replies with a string of words
of dark meaning in pure Castilian. Curious people
applaud. Children follow him.
He is easy to find. Everyone knows him. Don’t ask
for José—obviously—or Andrés for that matter.
When visiting Old Havana, ask any passerby for
the Caballero de París. Offer him a coin. Take his
gift. You will have met one of the most charming
characters in this city. You will have met a living
photo by Alex Mene
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La California Restaurant
by Margaret Atkins
It’s 7 o’clock, in the evening and I’m standing on
the corner of San Lázaro and Crespo Streets in
Centro Habana. From here, I can make out the
spot where Paseo del Prado begins and a portion
of the Malecón. Some kids are playing in the street
under the dim, yellow light of the street lamp.
Except for the kids, there’s hardly a sound—quite
unusual considering the music that you almost
always hear coming from most houses in Havana.
Suddenly, this strange peacefulness is disturbed
by the honking of a car. Then some more honking.
And still some more. “It’s a wedding,” most people
will say, given the newfangled custom of exhibiting
the bride in a vintage American convertible around
town. A vintage convertible does arrive, but sans
bride. Instead, the passengers are La California
Restaurant customers, who before dining,
are taken on a tour around town for an hour.
Experienced drivers pick them up at their hotels
or casas particulares (private accommodations)
and drive them to important sights in Havana
before dropping them off at La California, which is
situated only twenty meters away from the wellknown former solar of the same name.
courtyards were very often the scene of impromptu
music and dance meets and La California was
no exception. But La California had one special
attraction: around the 1930s and 40s .it was the
place where the musicians who created the basis
of Cuban Latin jazz, including the legendary conga
player Chano Pozo, used to hang out. This is why
restaurant owners Charlie and Mapi decided to
christen their place La California and take their
customers on a journey in time. If you askj for a
cup of coffee, for instance, you will be served in a
vintage cup with a silver spoon.
The Cuban solar of days gone by were tenement
houses which featured a central courtyard
surrounded by an infinite number of rooms. These
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The Green Room is presided by the small statute
of a virgin, an apparition of Mary while an old
phonograph lets out tunes from yesteryear. “We
want our customers to feel as if they were visiting
their grandmother’s home: comfortable, welcome,
loved,” I am told by the couple while I admire the
over 100 labels of wines in the house. Here and
there hang bunches of tobacco leaves, which
give out a subtle aroma that goes well with the
The beautiful garden of hanging ferns with a
skylight grabs my special attention and I would
have loved to just sit there having a cocktail in this
heavenly place but the staff has been busy joining
tables for a group of tourists. The waitresses have
served the welcoming cocktail and are hurrying
the guys in the kitchen for the entrees. I follow
them into the kitchen and meet the chef. He tells
me that La California serves stylized Cuban Creole
food with healthy eating in mind. This is why they
go easy on pork fat or refined sugar, so very typical
of Cuban dishes.
I take a look at the dishes being served: pumpkin
cream topped with parmesan; traditional ropa
vieja (shredded meat); grilled lobster with sweet
potato in caramel & cider; grilled fish with fine
herbs; lamb in red wine; curry chicken with
apples… Some of the customers have gone Italian
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and enjoy pizzas made in coal-fired ovens. The
desserts are the typical ones made at home:
boniatillo (pureed sweet potatoes to which sugar,
butter and cinnamon have been added); flan, or
caramel custard; cookies from a special recipe…
A typical Cuban music quintet have come to play
for the guests today while they are also taught the
steps to the cha-cha or salsa by two experienced
For lovers of Spanish culture, one of the rooms
resembles a tavern complete with bull-fight
posters and large, heavy mahogany doors and
French windows. There’s a basket filled with toys
and fancy hats for restless little kids.
The evening is over, and as I step out into “the
real world,” I take a last look back to the neon sign
of La California—sole indication of a very special
restaurant that allows you to time travel while
you enjoy delicious typical Cuban food within a
beautifully restored 19th-century colonial building.
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photo by Ana Lorena
Havana’s Own Cocktail Champion
by Margaret Atkins
Sergio Serrano is a happy man. He has three kids,
a wife, parents who are still alive…and he has
cocktail making. He could be described as stout,
middle-aged, good-natured, kind. Born in the
eastern province of Las Tunas, Sergio moved to
Havana with his parents when he was eight. He is
an excellent conversationalist and is proud of the
prestige enjoyed by Cuban bartenders, who are
known for their mastery of this profession that
reached its peak during the Prohibition era in the
United States, when Havana opened a great many
bars that became filled with visiting Americans.
The excellent quality of the local rum favored the
development of an unmistakable Cuban style of
cocktail making that has since been sought after
by visitors as an essential part of the experience
of coming to Cuba. Sergio wanted to do his bit and
today he is well known by the people who work in the
tourism industry. In 2003, he became the champion
of the World Cocktail Competition organized by
the International Bartenders Association, of which
58 countries are now members. He is the only
Cuban (or Latin American for that matter) who has
ever won this competition.
The winning cocktail is called “Adan y Eva” (Adam
& Eve). According to its creator, it pays tribute to
love in every possible meaning, not only romantic
love but the love for his family, which is the most
important part of his life. This is why he never gets
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Produced by
tired of saying that his victory is also the victory
of those around him, who would patiently put up
with the long hours of testing, stress, absence.
Even though it may not seem very difficult to the
unprofessional eye, creating a new cocktail is truly
a complicated task. He told me how he had run
the risk of becoming an inveterate drinker due
to the large amounts of alcohol he had to drink
for months in his successive attempts to improve
his cocktail and turn it into what it is today—a
balanced, seductive, subtle mix. An Adam & Eve is
ideal to set the mood for a romantic dinner. Here’s
the recipe:
customer, Eusebio Leal Spengler, Historian of the
city of Havana, for whom he has but words of praise
and affection. Or, instead, he will listen to you and
will know how to comfort you or share in your
happiness. He will suggest a drink that will depend
on the situation and the mood you’re in, but he will
also, respectfully but firmly, tell you when it’s time
to stop and go home. And we totally agree when
Sergio tells us that a bartender is much more than
a person who serves drinks—he’s a confessor, an
advisor and a friend.
25ml (5 parts) Havana Club Rum Añejo 7 Años
20ml (4 parts) white vermouth
20ml (4 parts) green apple liquor
A few drops of Campari
It can be shaken or stirred, depending on individual
preference. It is garnished with two apple cores
on a stick, placed on the rim of the glass.
Now, you can make yourself one at home. Or while
visiting Havana, drop by the beautiful lobby of the
Habana Libre Hotel in the center of El Vedado
and ask for Sergio Serrano. Then, in addition
to enjoying your drink, you’ll have the pleasure
of meeting him and hearing him tell stories of
the time when the Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo
Guayasamín would drop by the Café del Oriente
in Old Havana or when he served Queen Sofía at
the glamorous restaurant and even of his favorite
nothing compares to HAVANA
page 63
Produced by
Havana’s best places to eat
El Atelier
Bella Ciao
CA 4+
Café Bohemia
Café Laurent
CA 4+
Experimental fusion
Homely Italian
Beautiful décor, interesting
Great service, good prices. A
real home from home.
Bohemian feel. Great
sandwiches, salads & juices
Beautiful penthouse restaurant
with lovely terrace.
Calle 5 e/ Paseo y 2, Vedado
(+53) 7-836-2025
Calle 19 y 72, Playa
(+53) 7-206-1406
Calle San Ignacio #364, Habana
Calle M #257, e/ 19 y 21, Vedado
(+53) 7-831-2090
La California
La Casa
Casa Miglis
CA 5
CA 5
CA 5
Contemporary fusion
Swedish-Cuban fusion
Beautiful C19 colonial building.
Great fresh pastas.
Walter’s place. Great pizza.
Quick & reliably good
VIP service. The Robaina family
place. Thurs Sushi night.
Oasis of good food & taste in
Centro Habana
Calle Crespo #55 e/ San Lázaro
y Refugio, Centro Habana
(+53) 7-863 7510
Ave. 3ra #3804 e/ 38 y 40,
(+53) 7-203 0261
Calle 30 #865 e/ 26 y 41, Nuevo
(+53) 7-881-7000
Lealtad #120 e/ Ánimas y
Lagunas, Centro Habana
(+53) 7-864-1486
Le Chansonnier CA
Cocina Lilliam CA
El Cocinero
CA 5
CA 5
Contemporary fusion
Fabulous value hole in the wall
tapas. Trendy.
Stylish & contemporary with
good food. Expensive.
Beautiful garden setting, quite
Industrial chic alfresco rooftop
with a buzzing atmosphere
Teniente Rey #457 bajos, Plaza
del Cristo, Habana Vieja
(+53) 7-872-8227
Calle J #257 e/ Línea y 15,
(+53) 7-832-1576
Calle 48 #1311, e/ 13 y 15,
(+53) 7-209-6514
Calle 26, e/ 11 y 13, Vedado.
(+53) 7-832-2355
Corte Príncipe CA
Il Divino
D. Eutimia
CA 4+
CA 5+
CA 4+
Cuban fusion
Absolutely charming. Great
Intimate, idiosyncratic &
charming (not cheap).
Sergio’s place. Simple décor,
spectacular food.
Set in huge gardens outside
town. Great for the kids.
Calle 9na esq. a 74, Miramar
(+53) 5-255-9091
Calle Raquel, #50 e/ Esperanza
y Lindero, Arroyo Naranjo
(+53) 7-643-7734
Callejón del Chorro #60C, Plaza
de la Catedral, Habana Vieja
(+53) 7 861 1332
Calle 16 #105 e/ 1ra y 3ra,
(+53) 7-202-4361
La Fontana
La Guarida
Habana Mia 7
Iván Chef
CA 4+
CA 5+
CA 5
CA 5
International gourmet
Consistently good food,
attentive service. Old school.
Justifiably famous. Follow in
the footsteps of Queen of Spain
Endless summer nights.
Excellent food and service.
Brilliantly creative and rich
Calle 46 #305 esq. a 3ra,
(+53) 7-202-8337
Concordia #418 e/ Gervasio y
Escobar, Centro Habana
(+53) 7-866-9047
Paseo #7 altos e/ 1ra y 3ra.
(+53) 7-830-2287
Aguacate #9, esq. a Chacón,
Habana Vieja
(+53) 7-863-9697
El Litoral
CA 5+
Watch the world go by at the
Malecón’s best restaurant.
Malecón #161 e/ K y L, Vedado
(+53) 7-830-2201
Río Mar
CA 5
CA 5
CA 5+
CA 4+
Imaginative, tasty and
innovative menu.
Fascinating Soviet decor.
Beautiful view, great food.
Kitsch pizza place with animals.
Great after the beach.
Calle 84 #1116 e/ 11 y 13, Playa.
(+53) 5-237-3894
Malecon #25, 3rd floor e Prado
y Carcel, Centro Habana
(+53) 7-860-2947
Calle 5ta A #50206 e/ 502 y
504, Guanabo, Habana del Este
(+53) 7-796-4300
San Cristóbal
CA 5+
CA 5+
CA 5+
Contemporary décor.
Wonderful sea-view.
Deservedly popular.Consistently
great food. Kitsch décor.
Authentic fisherman’s shack
servicing world-class sushi.
Fabulous food and great service
in the heart of Vedado.
Ave. 3raA y Final #11, La Puntilla,
(+53) 7-209-4838
San Rafael #469 e/ Lealtad y
Campanario, Centro Habana
(+53) 7-860-9109
Calle 240A #3023 esq. a 3ra C,
(+53) 5-286-7039
Calle 29 #205 e/ B y C, Vedado
(+53) 7-830-0711
nothing compares to HAVANA
page 64
Produced by
La Guarida
CA 5+
Style of food
Contemporary fusion
Type of placePrivate (Paladar)
Best for Authentic, charming and intimate
atmosphere in Cuba’s best known
restaurant. Great food, professional. Classy.
Don’t Miss Uma Thurman, Beyoncé or the
Queen of Spain if they happen to be dining
next to you.
Concordia #418 e/ Gervasio y Escobar, Centro
(+53) 7-866-9047
El Litoral
CA 5+
Style of food
Type of placePrivate (Paladar)
Best for Quality décor, good service and
great food. Best new place recently opened.
Don’t Miss Drinking a cocktail at sunset
watching the world go by on the Malecón
Malecón #161 e/ K y L, Vedado.
(+53) 7-830-2201
CA 5+
Style of food
Type of placePrivate (Paladar)
Best for Fabulous sushi, wonderful ambience
overlooking fishing boats heading out to sea.
World class.
Don’t miss Getting a reservation here.
Calle 240A #3023 esq. 3raC, Jaimanitas
(+53) 5-286-7039
CA 5+
Style of foodSpanish/Mediterranean
Type of placePrivate (Paladar)
Best for Eating some of Havana’s best food
at present. Consistently good, excellent
Don’t miss The fish terriaki is to absolutely
die for. Get a reservation on the main
Calle 29 #205 e/ B y C, Vedado
(+53) 7-830-0711
nothing compares to HAVANA
page 65
Produced by
La California
CA 5
Style of food
Type of placePrivate (Paladar)
Best for Beautiful C19 colonial building.
Popular place with quality food and great
service. Love the fresh pastas.
Dont’t Miss The interesting history of the
neighbourhood, where Chano Pozo (legendary Afro-Cuban jazz percussionist) hung out.
Calle Crespo #55 e/ San Lázaro y Refugio,
Centro Habana
(+53) 7-863-7510
Casa Miglis
CA 5
Style of food
Swedish-Cuban fusion
Type of placePrivate (Paladar)
Best for The beautifully designed interior,
warm ambience and Miglis’s personality
create the feeling of an oasis in Central
Don’t Miss Chatting with Mr Miglis.
The Skaargan prawns, beef Chilli and
Lealtad #120 e/ Ánimas y Lagunas, Centro Habana
(+53) 7-864-1486
Habana Mía 7
CA 5
Style of food
International gourmet
Type of placePrivate (Paladar)
Best for Stylish and fresh décor give a
Mediterranean feel for long endless summer
nights. Excellent food and service.
Don’t miss Watching the world go by on the
lovely terrace overlooking the ocean.
Paseo #7 altos e/ 1ra y 3ra, Vedado
(+53) 7-830-2287
CA 5+
Style of foodSoviet
Type of placePrivate (Paladar)
Best for Getting a flavor of Cuban-Soviet history along with babuska’s traditional dishes
in a classy locale.
Don’t miss Vodka sundowners on the
gorgeous terrace overlooking the malecon.
Malecon #25 3rd floor e/ Prado y Carcel, Centro
(+53) 7-860-2947
nothing compares to HAVANA
page 66
Produced by
CA 5
Style of food
Experimental fusion
Type of placePrivate (Paladar)
Best for Interesting menu, beautiful building
with great décor and service.
Don’t miss Dinner on the breezy terrace
during summer.
Calle 5ta e/ Paseo y 2, Vedado
(+53) 7-836-2025
[email protected]
Café Bohemia
CA 5
Style of food
Type of placePrivate (Paladar)
Best for Bohemian feel. Great sandwiches,
salads & juices
Don’t miss Thursday night happy hour
Ground floor of the Palacio de la Casa del Conde
de Lombillo, Calle San Ignacio #364,
(Next to Factoría Plaza Vieja)
[email protected]
La Carboncita
CA 5
Style of food
Type of placePrivate (Paladar)
Best for Reliably good food, including
Havana’s best pizzas. Quick and efficient
Don’t Miss Walter’s recommendation for the
Ave. 3ra #3804 e/ 38 y 40, Miramar
(+53) 7-863-9697 / (+53) 5-343-8540
La Casa
CA 5
Style of food
Type of placePrivate (Paladar)
Best for Warm hospitality and openness
from the four generations of the Robaina
family. Quality food.
Don’t miss Thursday night sushi night.
The Piña Colada.
Calle 30 #865 e/ 26 y 41, Nuevo Vedado.
(+53) 7-881-7000
[email protected]
nothing compares to HAVANA
page 67
Produced by
La California
For Quality Food, impeccable service & an intimate ambience
Dine in a beautifully restored 19th-century
colonial building just one block away from the
emblematic Malecón drive and seawall. La
California is located on the place where legendary Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo used to
hang out.
La California now offers a tour of Havana in a
Classic Vintage Car plus lunch or dinner.
Your chauffeur will pick you up from your hotel
or private accommodation and show you around
the historical sights of this incredible city for one
hour before heading to La California.
Calle Crespo No.55 e/ San Lázaro y Refugio,
Centro Habana. Tel (+53) 7 8637510
Superb Cuban-Creole/International menu
The offer includes:
For reservations, call
Welcoming cocktail
(+53) 7-863-7510
Bread + surprise extra
Chef’s salad California style or Pumpkin Cream topped with
Curry Chicken with apples / traditional Ropa Vieja (shredded
meat) / Grilled Fish with fine herbs / Cuban Lamb in red wine &
mint tea / Grilled Lobster with sweet potato in caramel & cider
(at your choice)
Moros y Cristianos (rice and beans) or vegetables
Traditional Cuban dessert (flan, sweet potato and rice puddings)
Domestic non-alcoholic beverage (water, soda, juice or beer)
Price: CUC 38 per person
Open daily noon-midnight
[email protected]
nothing compares to HAVANA
page 72
Produced by
Sloppy Joe’s
Havana’s best Bars & Clubs
Traditional Bars
El Floridita
CA 4+
Hemingway’s daiquiri bar.
Touristy but always full of life.
Great cocktails.
Obispo #557 esq. a Monserrate,
Habana Vieja
(+53) 7-867-1299
Plaza Vieja
CA 5
Joe’s Bar
CA 4+
Recently (beautifully)
renovated. Full of history.
Popular. Lacks a little ‘grime’.
Microbrewery. Serves ice
chilled bong of light locally
brewed beer.
San Ignacio esq. a Muralla,
Plaza Vieja, Habana Vieja
(+53) 7-866-4453
Ánimas esq. a Zulueta, Habana
(+53) 7-866-7157
CA 5+
Antiguo Almacén
Madera y el Tabaco
Microbrewery located
overlooking the restored docks
Simply brilliant.
Avenida del Puerto y San
Ignacio, La Habana Vieja
Contemporary Bars
El Cocinero
CA 5+
Fabulous rooftop setting, great
service, cool vibe.
Calle 26 e/ 11 y 13, Vedado
(+53) 7-832-2355
CA 5-
Laid back contemporary bar
with a real buzz in the back
CA 5
A comfortable place to chat
/ hang out with your friends.
Great service.
Calle 10 #510, e/ 5ta y 31,
Calle 20 #503, e/ 5ta y 7ma.
Contemporary bars/clubs
Don Cangrejo CA
Love it/hate it—this is the
oldest Friday night party
place and is still going strong.
Outdoor by the sea.
CA 4
Über modern and stylish indoor
bar/club. Miami style crowd
and attitude.
Calle 94 #110 e/ 1ra y 3ra,
(+53) 7-206-4167
Ave. 1ra e/ 16 & 18, Miramar
(+53) 7-204-3837
Meliá Sports Bar CA
Big-screen sports-bar in
modern outdoor terrace. Good
for sports and live music.
Meliá Habana Hotel
Ave. 3ra e/ 76 y 80, Miramar
(+53) 7-204-8500
Up & Down
CA 5
From the team that brought
you Sangri-La. Attracting
a young party crowd, very
popular. Take a coat.
Calle 3ra y B, Vedado
El Gato Tuerto CA
Late night place to hear
fabulous bolero singers. Can
get smoky.
El Tocororo
CA 5+
X Alfonso’s new cultural center.
Great concerts, funky young
Calle 26 e/ 11 y 13, Vedado
(next to the Puente de Hierro)
(+53) 5-329-6325
(+53) 7-202-9188
(+53) 7-836-3031
de Arte
CA 4+
Expat favorite hangout. Small
indoor bar with live music and
eclectic clientele.
CA 5
For the cool kids. Basement
bar/club which gets packed at
Ave. 21 e/ 36 y 42, Miramar
(+53) 7-264-8343
Bertolt Brecht
CA 5
Think MTV Unplugged. Hip,
funky and unique with an artsy
Cuban crowd.
Calle O e/ 17 y 19, Vedado
(+53) 7-833-2224
Calle 18 e/ 3ra y 5ta, Miramar
Calle 13 e/ I y J, Vedado
(+53) 7-830-1354
Humboldt 52
Bar Havana
Café Bar
Las Vegas
CA 4
Can get dark and smoky but
great drag show (11pm) from
Divino—one of Cuba’s most
accomplished drag acts.
Infanta #104 e/ 25 y 27, Vedado.
(+53) 7-870-7939
CA 5
One of the hottest venues
for gay nightlife in Havana at
Humboldt #52 e/ Infanta y
Hospital, Centro Habana.
(+53) 5-330-2989
CA 5
A superb example of
queer class meets camp,
accompanied by a fantastic
floor show.
San Juan de Dios, esq. a
Aguacate, Habana Vieja
(+53) 7-867-1676
CA 4
Pop décor, fancy cocktails, and
the staff’s supercilious attitude,
this is a gathering spot for all
types of folks.
Calle 17 #809 e/ 2 y 4, Vedado
(+53) 7-831-2433
nothing compares to HAVANA
page 73
Produced by
Bertolt Brecht
CA 5
Contemporary Bar/clubs
Service & drinks
Best for Hanging out with hip & funky
Cubans who like their live music.
Don’t Miss Interactivo playing on a
Wednesday evening.
Calle 13 e/ I y J, Vedado
(+53) 7-830-1354
CA 5-
Contemporary Bar
Service & drinks
Best for Laid back lounge atmosphere in
the garden area which often has live music.
Good turnover of people.
Don’t Miss Ray Fernandez, Tony Avila, Yasek
Mazano playing live sets in the garden.
Calle 10 #510 e/ 5ta y 31, Miramar
(+53) 7-202-2921
CA 5+
Contemporary Bar/CLUB
Service & drinks
Best for Hanging out with the cool kids on
the Havana Farundula in the most popular
Don’t Miss The best gin and tonic in Havana.
Ave. 21 e/ 36 y 42, Miramar
(+53) 5-264-8343
Don Cangrejo
CA 4+
Service & drinks
Best for Love it/hate it – come for the Friday
night party
Don’t Miss Looking for de see
Ave. 1ra e/ 16 y 18, Miramar
(+53) 7-204-3837
nothing compares to HAVANA
page 74
Produced by
Humboldt 52
CA 5
Gay friendly
Service & drinks
Best for Hot staff, comfortable setting, and
welcoming vibe at Havana’s first full-time,
openly-gay bar
Don’t Miss The disco ball, a talented opera
duo performing Wednesdays and karaoke
and drag performances other days of the
Humboldt #52 e/ Infanta y Hospital,
Centro Habana.
(+53) 5-330-2989
Fábrica de Arte
CA 5+
Contemporary Bar
Service & drinks
Best for X Alfonso’s superb new cultural
center has something for everyone
Don’t Miss Ne pas manquer Les meilleurs
musiciens cubains
Calle 26 e/ 11 y 13, Vedado
(next to the Puente de Hierro)
Fashion Bar Havana
CA 5
Service & drinks
Best for A superb example of queer class
meets camp, accompanied by a fantastic
floor show.
Don’t Miss The staff performing after 11pm
San Juan de Dios, esq. a Aguacate, Habana Vieja
(+53) 7-867-1676
CA 5
Contemporary Bar/CLUB
Service & drinks
Best for A comfortable place to chat / hang
out with your friends. Great service.
Don’t Miss The homemade Russian soup –
just like Matushka makes it.
Calle 20 #503, e/ 5ta y 7ma.
(+53) 7-202-9188
nothing compares to HAVANA
page 75
Produced by
Basílica Menor de San Francisco de Asís
Havana’s best live music venues
Concert venues
Karl Marx
CA 5
World class musicians perform
prestigious concerts in Cuba’s
best equipped venue.
Calle 1ra esq. a 10, Miramar
(+53) 7-203-0801
Basílica San CA
Francisco de Asís
A truly beautiful church,
which regularly hosts fabulous
classical music concerts.
Fábrica de Arte CA
X Alfonso’s new cultural center.
Great concerts inside (small
and funky) and outside (large
and popular!).
Oficios y Amargura, Plaza de
San Francisco de Asís, Habana
Calle 26 e/ 11 y 13, Vedado (next
to the Puente de Hierro)
Jazz Café
Privé Lounge
Sala CovarrubiasCA
Teatro Nacional
Recently renovated, one of
Cuba’s most prestigious venues
for a multitude of events.
Paseo y 39, Plaza de la
Café Jazz
CA 4+
Clean, modern and
atmospheric. Where Cuba’s
best musicians jam and
Cine Teatro Miramar
10:30pm – 2am
Ave. 5ta esq. a 94, Miramar
Café Cantante
Mi Habana
CA 4
Attracts the best Cuban
musicians. Recently renovated
with an excellent new sound
Ave. Paseo esq. a 39, Plaza de la
(+53) 7-878-4273
Café Teatro
Bertolt Brecht
CA 5
Think MTV Unplugged when
musicians play. Hip, funky and
unique with an artsy Cuban
Calle 13 e/ I y J, Vedado
(+53) 7-830-1354
Trova & traditional
Pepito’s Bar
CA 4+
Some of the best Cuban Nueva
Trova musicians perform
in this small and intimate
CA 4
A staple of Havana’s jazz
scene, the best jazz players
perform here. Somewhat cold
CA 5+
Small and intimate lounge
club with great acoustics and
beautiful decor. Jazz groups
play Sunday night.
Galerías de Paseo
Ave. 1ra e/ Paseo y A, Vedado
Calle 88A #306 e/ 3ra y 3raA,
(+53) 7-209-2719
Casa de la
Casa de la
CA 4
CA 4
Centro Habana
A little rough around the edges
but spacious. For better or
worse, this is ground zero for
the best in Cuban salsa.
Smaller and more up-market
than its newer twin in Centro
Habana. An institution in the
Havana salsa scene.
Galiano e/ Neptuno y
Concordia, Centro Habana
(+53) 7-860-8296/4165
Calle 20 esq. a 35, Miramar
(+53) 7-204-0447
Don Cangrejo CA
Love it/hate it—this is the
oldest Friday night party
place and is still going strong.
Outdoor by the sea.
Ave. 1ra e/ 16 y 18, Miramar
(+53) 7-204-3837
Gato Tuerto
CA 4+
Late night place to hear
fabulous bolero singers. Can
get smoky.
Calle O entre 17 y 19, Vedado
(+53) 7-833-2224
Calle 26 esq. a Ave. del
Zoológico. Nuevo Vedado
(+53) 7-881-1808
El Sauce
CA 5-
Great outdoor concert venue to
hear the best in contemporary
& Nueva Trova live in concert.
Ave. 9na #12015 e/ 120 y 130,
(+53) 7-204-6428
de Guajirito
CA 5
See Buena Vista Social Club
musicians still performing
nightly from 9pm. Touristy but
Zulueta #660 e/ Apodaca y
Gloria, Centro Habana
(+53) 7-861-7761
La Zorra y el
CA 5
Intimate and atmospheric, this
basement jazz club, which you
enter through a red telephone
box, is Cuba’s most famous.
Calle 23 e/ N y O, Vedado
(+53) 7-833-2402
Salón Rosado
de la Tropical
CA 5
The legendary beer garden
where Arsenio tore it up. Look
for a salsa/timba gig on a Sat
night and a Sun matinee.
Ave. 41 esq. a 46, Playa
Times: varies wildly
(+53) 7-203-5322
Teatro de
Bellas Artes
CA 4+
Small intimate venue inside
Cuba’s most prestigious arts
museum. Modern.
Trocadero e/ Zulueta y
Monserrate, Habana Vieja.
CA 4+
Salón 1930
‘Compay Segundo’
Buena Vista Social Club style
set in the grand Hotel Nacional.
Hotel Nacional
Calle O esq. a 21, Vedado
(+53) 7-835-3896
nothing compares to HAVANA
page 76
Produced by
Havana’s Best Hotels
Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Simply the best…
Parque Central
Luxury hotel overlooking
Parque Central
Neptuno e/ Prado y Zulueta,
Habana Vieja
(+53) 7-860-6627
Santa Isabel
CA 5+
Luxurious historic mansion
facing Plaza de Armas
CA 5+
Stunning view from roof-top
pool. Beautiful décor.
Narciso López, Habana Vieja
(+53) 7-860-8201
CA 5
Wonderful ocean front
location. Newly renovated.
Paseo del Prado #603 esq. a
Dragones, Habana Vieja
(+53) 7-860-8201
Malecón esq. a Lealtad, Centro
(+53) 7-862-8061
Boutique Hotels in Old Havana
CA 5
Beautifully restored colonial
Obispo #252, esq. a Cuba,
Habana Vieja
(+53) 7-862-4127
Business Hotels
Meliá Cohíba
CA 5
Oasis of polished marble and
professional calm.
Ave Paseo e/ 1ra y 3ra, Vedado
(+53) 7- 833-3636
Palacio del
CA 5
Cuban baroque meets modern
Oficios #152 esq. a Amargura,
Habana Vieja
Meliá Habana
CA 5
Attractive design & extensive
CA 4
A must for Hemingway
Mercure Sevilla CA
Stunning views from the roof
garden restaurant.
Calle Obispo #153 esq. a
Mercaderes, Habana Vieja
(+53) 7- 860-9529
Trocadero #55 entre Prado y
Zulueta, Habana Vieja
(+53) 7-860-8560
Economical/Budget Hotels
CA 3
On the banks of the Río
Calle 28-A e/ 49-A y 49-B,
Reparto Kohly, Playa
(+53) 7-204-9232
CA 3
Lack of pretension, great
Galiano e/ Sán Lázaro y
Malecón, Centro Habana
(+53) 7-866-8812
Immensely charming, great
Oficios #53 esq. a Obrapía,
Habana Vieja
(+53) 7-867-1037
CA 4+
Good value, large spacious
modern rooms.
Ave. 3ra y 70, Miramar
(+53) 5-204-8500
For a sense of history
Ambos Mundos
Hostal Valencia CA
Conde de
CA 5
Delightfully small and intimate.
For cigar lovers.
Mercaderes #202, esq. a
(+53) 7-862-9293
H10 Habana
CA 4+
Cascades of glass. Good wi-fi.
Ave. 5ta. e/ 70 y 72, Miramar
(+53) 7-204-3583
Ave. 3ra. y 70, Miramar
(+53) 7 204-0100
Hotel Nacional
CA 5
Eclectic art-deco architecture.
Gorgeous gardens.
CA 3
Spectacular views over wavelashed Malecón
Calle O esq. a 21, Vedado
(+53) 7-835 3896
Paseo y Malecón, Vedado
(+53) 7-836-4051
Saint John’s
CA 3
Lively disco, tiny quirky pool.
Calle O e/ 23 y 25, Vedado
(+53) 7-833-3740
CA 3
Good budget option with a bit
of a buzz
Calle O e/ 23 y 25, Vedado
(+53) 7-836-4072
nothing compares to HAVANA
page 77
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best private
places to stay
La Maison
For Help reserving any Private Accommodation (Casas Particulares) in Cuba please contact
[email protected]
Mid range - Casa Particular (B&B)
CA 4
Carlos in cuba
CA 5
Gay Friendly BED and
Breakfast in Havana
Visually stunning, historically
fascinating. Welcoming.
Campanario #63 e/ San Lázaro
y Laguna, Centro Habana
(+53) 7-863-6203
Calle 2 #505 e/ 23 y 21, Vedado
(+53) 7-833-1329
(+53) 5-295-4893
[email protected]
CA 5
Beautiful colonial townhouse
with great location.
Julio y Elsa
CA 5
Cluttered bohemian feel.
Calle Habana #209, e/
Empedrado, y Tejadillo, Habana
(+53) 7-861-0253
Consulado #162 e/ Colón y
Trocadero, Centro Habana
(+53) 7-861-8027
Hostal Guanabo
Up-scale B&Bs (Boutique hostals)
Rosa D’Ortega
CA 5
Beautiful and welcoming large
Patrocinio #252 esq. a Juan
Bruno Zayas, 10 de Octubre
(+53) 7-641-4329/5-263-3302
[email protected]
CA 5
Hospitable, attractive and
reliable boutique B&B with 9
Habana #106 e/ Cuarteles y
Chacón, Habana Vieja
(+53) 7-866-2607
CA 5+
Ydalgo Martínez Matos’s
spacious and contemporary
3-bedroom penthouse is
CA 5
Beautiful 4 bedroom seafront villa in sleepy Guanabo.
Excellent food.
Calle I #260 e/ 15 y 17, Vedado
(+53) 5-830-8727
Calle 480 #1A04 e/ 1ra y 3ra,
(+53) 7-799-0004
Habana Vista
Suite Havana
Apartment rentals
Bohemia Hostal CA
Gorgeous 1-bedroom
apartment beautifully
decorated apartment
overlooking Plaza Vieja.
San Ignacio #364 e/ Muralla
y Teniente Rey, Plaza Vieja
Habana Vieja
(+53) 5- 403-1 568
(+53) 7-836-6567
Luxury Houses
CA 5
Rent Room elegant and wellequipped. Beautiful wild
garden and great pool.
Calle 17 #1101 e/ 14 y 16, Vedado
(+34) 677525361
(+53) 7-832-1927
(+53) 5-360-0456
Casa Concordia CA
Beautifully designed
and spacious 3 bedroom
apartment. Spanish colonial
interiors with cheerful, arty
CA 5
Two-storey penthouse b&b
with private pool
Calle 13 # 51 esq. a N, Vedado
(+53) 5-388-7866
Lamparilla #62 altos e/
Mercaderes y San Ignacio,
Habana Vieja
(+53) 5-829-6524
Concordia #151 apto. 8 esq. a
San Nicolás, Centro Habana
(+53) 5-254-5240
CA 5
Elegant well-equipped villa
formerly owned by Fulgencio
Batista. Beautiful wild garden.
Morro-Cabaña Park. House #29
(+53) 5-294-5397
and María Elena
CA 5
Elegant 2-bedroom apartment
in restored colonial building.
Quality loft style décor.
This leafy oasis in western
Havana has an attractive
mosaic tiled pool and three
modern bedrooms.
Calle 66 #4507 e/ 45 y Final,
(+53) 7-209-0084
CA 5
A sprawling vanilla-hued
mansion with 6 rooms
decorated with colonial-era
lamps, tiles and Louis XV
(+53) 5-370-5559
nothing compares to HAVANA
page 78
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Artedel Luxury
CA 5+
3 Bedroom penthouse
Best for Stylish and contemporary furniture
along with a beautiful 360-degree view over
Don’t Miss Ydalgo – an impeccable host,
discreet or gregarious, as you prefer
Calle I #260, e/ 15 and 17, Vedado
(+53) 7-830-8727
Bohemia Hostal
CA 5+
Gorgeous 1 bedroom apartment
Best for Independent beautifully decorated
apartment overlooking Plaza Vieja.
Don’t Miss Spending time in Havana’s most
atmospheric Plaza.
San Ignacio #364 e/ Muralla y Teniente Rey, Plaza
Vieja, Habana Vieja
[email protected]
(+53) 5 4031 568: (53) 7 8366 567
La Maison
CA 5+
3 Bedroom apartment
Best for The terrace with a view of Havana
and its people.
Don’t Miss Getting in touch with the
architecture and splendor of a Cuban
colonial home.
Cienfuegos #207 altos e/ Misión y Arsenal,
Habana Vieja.
(+53) 5-412-0166
Rosa D’Ortega
CA 5+
Boutique Villa
Best for Large elegant villa away from the
bustle of downtown Havana. Gracious hosts,
beautiful rooms.
Don’t Miss Exploring the off-the-beaten
track neighbourhood.
Patrocinio #252 esq. a Juan Bruno Zayas, 10 de
(+53) 7-641-43-29 / (+53) 5-263-3302
nothing compares to HAVANA
page 79
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