La Casa De La Musica Habana
Centro Habana's "House of Music" is more than appropriately named-this is a top place to get down to live music just like the Cubans do.
Centro Habana is not exactly renowned as a place in Havana you go to for upscale luxury (quite the opposite in fact), and so appropriately the neighbourhood's Casa de la Musica doesn't hold this reputation either. What Centro Habana is, however, is an authentic, passionate, and occasionally gritty neighbourhood that in both good and bad ways defines the Cuban character. The same can perhaps be said for La Casa de la Musica Centro Habana.
As far as physical decorative elements go, there really isn't much of anything to see here. The stage has a few big screens behind it, and before the live music starts (or on off-nights when there are no live performances scheduled) you'll see music videos playing as the accompanying soundtracks shake everything in the room. There are tables strewn about the perimeter, but the vast majority of space here is dedicated, of course, to the dance floor.
The ambiance here is essentially defined by two things-the music and the people dancing to it. Though you won't find a genuinely bad act gracing such a prestigious stage, tastes do differ and you should definitely investigate who's headlining before heading down for the evening-reggaeton, for example, is very different from salsa! The best news of all is that here you can find renowned, truly international Cuban acts playing for a fraction of the price of what you'd pay elsewhere in the world.
Once you've confirmed that the music performed on any given night accommodates your tastes and you agree with the scheduled show line-up, you should be good to go. When popular bands perform the place really gets packed, and when lesser-known acts go on there's a bit more breathing room on the dance floor. Once again, both options are viable entertainment depending on your tastes and expectations.
One final note regarding the crowd at La Casa de la Musica Centro Habana-it should be honestly acknowledged that the jineteras and jineteros are a bit more open and forward working here than at most other popular tourist hotspots in Havana. This of course differs from night to night -and sometimes it's not noticeable at all-but it's always best to simply be aware. If this isn't what you're looking for, just make that known and you'll have a great time regardless.
As is the case in any good party atmosphere, La Casa de la Musica makes it abundantly easy to get your hands on any kind of beverage you might enjoy. Be it a national or an international beer, a classic Cuban or international mixed drink, or, of course, a simple glass of water after dancing up a storm, you'll have no trouble getting one served quickly and efficiently at one of the venue's bars.
For a real party the way that Cubans do it in a central location that's close to many hotels in Havana's downtown, there's hardly a better option than La Casa de la Musica Centro Habana. A bit gritty perhaps, but 100% authentic, this is one of the ultimate live music venues in both Havana and Cuba as a whole.
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