Noches habaneras

My first real night out in Havana was Wednesday. After a meet up with other American students in Havana for the semester, we ended up at a show by a music group called Interactivo. A couple hundred people were packed into the space around a stage in the center of the club. We listened to some great, and even though I couldn’t make out all their lyrics, the various singers and musicians that performed were fantastic. So good was the music that I convinced myself that I knew how to dance to it (salsa lessons are definitely in order).

Bertolt Brecht. Where Interactivo performs
Bertolt Brecht. Where Interactivo performs

After the show we talked with some of the Cubans we had met. It seems that Cubans, at least young ones, are less concerned with where their going next. Most were content to stand around and talk, seemingly for hours, until something better presented itself. I haven’t felt rushed for a second while I’ve been here, a welcome change from the life of North American college student.

Hanging out on the Malecón on Friday further accentuated this relaxed feeling. Every night there are many people sitting and standing around the wall, but on the weekends it truly comes alive. Hordes of young people and adults come out to talk, drink, and sit on the 3.5-mile long sea wall. After eating, we joined them, and eventually met up with some of the Cuban friends that we had made on Wednesday. After spending some time with them on the previous night, I felt pretty comfortable in the dynamic of Malecón chilling, but the calm weeknight that I had experience gave way to a vivacious start to the weekend on Friday. Although we eventually found ourselves at a mediocre club called Turf, we could have certainly made the Malecón, the night’s main attraction. I don’t know if there exists a place like this in the United States (if so I desperately need to go there). What makes this so unique is the number of people just hanging out in between the street and the sea; not outside of bars, clubs, or even restaurants, but on a long strip of concrete that guards from the ocean’s forceful waves. It’s almost like the quad or green of a university, except open to the entire community (and devoid of open container laws). I’m sure that I’ll spend many a night over the next few months sitting on that wall, speaking broken spanish, and watching waves break against the concrete.

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