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Hot in Cuba - Salsa and Trova Nights, Jane's Addiction Concert and El Acompanante Premiere

As September begins and summer comes to an end, Cuba is still hot with varied cultural offers. The music scene is sizzling with performances ranging from salsa and reggaeton to rock, alternative and trova music, whilst cinemas host exclusive premieres of national and international films. In addition, Primera Linea Music Conference will take off next Wednesday and local circus Circuba proves a tempting option for families.

Hot in Cuba - Salsa and Trova Nights, Jane's Addiction Concert and El Acompanante Premiere

This week is packed with wonderful entertainment, especially for music and dance enthusiasts. Amazing live performances from some of Cuba’s sauciest salsa bands will keep your body moving into the wee hours of the night and laid-back shows from the trova and alternative scene will set the mood for pleasant evening out sipping drinks with friends.

Havana’s music scene

During the entire week, the capital burns bright with excellent live music presentations for those who love to hit the dance floor and bust some moves as well as the people who prefer to chill out on their seat swaying to the music.

Thursday 8th September – Salsa with Manolito Simonet and trova with Ray Fernandez

Great options for both salsa and trova lovers tonight in Havana. Miramar’s Diablo Tun Tun welcomes the unique music stylings of Ray Fernandez and his guitar at 5 pm. This charismatic songwriter is a spectacular musician whose essence is a mix of a bohemian, a thinker and a philanthropist. As he does every Thursday, he will once again fill the venue with special electricity accompanied by his raw vocals and funky chords.

For a night of endless dancing to tropical beats, Manolito Simonet y su Trabuco will offer a live performance at the same time, just beside the Diablo Tun Tun, in Miramar’s Casa de la Musica. This salsa group makes you sing along to catchy hooks whilst mixing timba with other various styles that will get your feet moving.

Friday 9th September –Salsa with NG la Banda

More salsa follows up in Miramar’s Casa de la Musica, this time at 11 pm with the catchy rhythms of Jose Luis Cortes and NG la Banda. This group are renowned for being the creators of timba (a term coined by its leader, Cortes), the most important popular dance and music genre of the past two decades. Let yourself go and shake your body to this mix of salsa and African folkloric elements.

Saturday 10th September –Female timba power with Bamboleo

If you weren’t able to catch any of the previous salsa shows, Miramar’s Casa de la Musica lets you indulge once more with the lively performance of Lazaro Valdes and Bamboleo. The show will begin at 11pm and will keep you animated into the late hours of the night with the saucy vocals, exquisite trumpets and funky piano chords the group delivers in each performance.

Sunday 11th September – More Bamboleo and relaxed trova flashbacks

Lazaro Valdes and Bamboleo repeats on Sunday evening at Miramar’s Casa de la Musica, whilst a more laid-back option awaits visitors at El Sauce. La Maquina de la Melancolia (Nostalgia Machine), formed by Cuban artist Luis Alberto Garcia and singer/songwriter Frank Delgado, provide attendees with a different taste of Cuba’s music. Though it is difficult to define this Cuban genre, to qualify as a “trovador” in Cuba, a person should sing songs of his own composition, accompany himself on the guitar and deal poetically with the song. Both artists will unite on Sunday and shower visitors with a relaxed but entertaining performance showcasing nostalgic Cuban and International hits and new creations.

Monday 12th September – Hip-shaking reggaeton with Baby Lores

That infectious reggaeton beat will invade you if you decide to visit Miramar’s 3ra y 8 Club on Monday night. Cuban singer, Baby Lores will start the week off with a band and fire the party up with his most renowned hits at 11 pm.

Tuesday 13th September – Salsa beats with legends Alexander Abreu and Pedrito Calvo

Miramar’s Casa de la Musica doesn’t cease in its task to bring the best of Cuban music to its salons. The show will begin at 5pm with salsa group Alexander Abreu y Habana D’ Primera, one of the most locally and internationally acclaimed ensembles, known for their polished yet flavoursome tunes.

Once this amazing performance is finished, another amazing show begins at 11 pm with Pedrito Calvo y La Justicia, another prestigious salsa group that will definitely make you want to get and up and dance.

Wednesday 14th September – Alternative scene with Kelvis Ochoa and Interactivo

Rock fans will be spoilt for choice with two of the island’s best alternative music groups performing on the same night. Cuba’s alternative genre combines rock with jazz, soul, rap and funk as well as local beats of salsa. Pick Sarao’s Bar at 10 pm for an evening swaying along to Kelvis Ochoa’s funky melodies or head to the Bertolt Brecht theatre at the same time for a night with Interactivo, a collaborative group of Cuban musicians, led by the pianist, singer and composer Roberto Carcasses.

Another amazing event that will showcase the island’s young talents will commence on Wednesday 14th December. The Primera Linea Havana International Music Conference will kick off on this date. The event will be centred on conferences, workshops and dedicated networking opportunities to meet Cuban music operators and artists. This event will be organised and produced to high international standards and looks to explore Havana and its music and to meet the players.

Beyond Havana – Villa Clara’s Mejunje and la Trovuntivitis

Aside from its stunning landscapes and UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the colonial city of Trinidad, Cuba’s Villa Clara province is home to one of the most amazing trova movements of the present. This genre has gained immense popularity amongst locals, who love celebrating their Thursday nights with “La Trovuntivitis”.

This enthusiastic and diverse group of “trovadores” all bring new spark to the genre and will unite on 8th September at El Mejunje for an amazing performance. El Mejunje, cultural centre located in the city of Santa Clara is also an LGBT space involved into several social campaigns, as the ones on HIV/AIDS prevention, against homophobia and social discrimination. This club welcomes everyone independently of sexual orientation, to promote social integration, and is complete with a theatre, a café, an art gallery in the second roof and a little music venue where performances happen evert night.

Beyond the music scene – Cinema premieres and theatre

One of the most exciting events for the seventh art in Cuba is taking place this Wednesday, 7th September. Directed by Pavel Giroud, “El Acompanante” (The Companion) will be presented at Havana’s Chaplin cinema tonight. The film was selected as Cuba’s candidate for the Oscars and Goya awards.

Starring Latin Grammy winner Yotuel Romero, The Companion is set in 1988 Cuba as the government dispatched HIV patients to AIDS centers under military rule. It narrates the friendship between Horacio Romero, a Cuban boxing champion that fails a drug test and must serve as a “companion” (a euphemism for warden) of Daniel, a conflictive patient.

Great options continue for cinema lovers on Saturday and Sunday. 23 y 12 Cinema in Havana’s Vedado neighbourhood will project the film “Toro” and kick off the New Millennium Spanish Cinema Showing. Directed by Kike Maillo, “Toro” tells the story of three long-lost brothers who must reunite and forgive past offenses in order to survive.

The Bertolt Brecht will also open its doors to theatre aficionados during the weekend. Local company "Vital Teatro” will represent the play “Pladur” at 8pm during Friday and Saturday functions and at 5pm on Sunday.

Families with children – Circuba and Arte en La Rampa

The universal language of circus acts will be available for adults and children at Havana’s Zoo on 26th street on Saturday 10th September. This amazing performance featuring clown Melodia and magician Ronny will amaze the little ones as they take a break from observing the beautiful species around them.

The “Arte en la Rampa” Fair can also be a fun option for families to enjoy. Set within the Pabellon Cuba in Vedado’s centric 23rd street, this large complex now hosts hundreds of stands selling craftsmanship from leather bags and shoes to jewellery, home decor and souvenirs. The fair will open to all public until 18th September from Thursday to Sunday. Pabellon Cuba will open at 2pm on Thursdays and Fridays and at 10 am on the weekends until 7pm.

Enjoy Cuba’s cultural life

Immerse yourself into popular Cuban culture whilst dancing to the catchy beats of salsa at Miramar’s Casa de la Musica or unwind with a drink in hand whilst jamming to tunes of the island’s rapidly-growing alternative scene. If Spanish isn’t an obstacle, venturing into cinemas for the premieres and even the theatre could be a great option for culture lovers. Whether travelling with a family or not, the “Arte en La Rampa” Fair could be a wonderful place to buy souvenirs and get some insight into the Cuban people which swarm the Pabellon Cuba on weekends looking for good offers.

With varied options to keep you entertained this week, all you need to focus on is picking what suits you the best and getting yourself into the party spirit. Whatever you decide, make sure you share your experiences with locals, who are always warm, welcoming and eager to show you their traditions and make you feel at home.

Susana Corona

Susana Corona

The islands' go-between

Having lived most of my life between Cuba and the UK and being half-raised in both island nations, I...

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