Friday, April 10, 2009

Salsa all-around

Anni, you're going to have to forgive me, but that constant living-to-the-beat-of-salsa in Cuba is starting to get little bit on my nerves already. I like the music, i really do, but there's something terribly repetitive about it and i find myself at times listening on full volume to Linkin Park or Wu Tang Clan on my iPod, just because i need a different sound around me.

That said, salsa is definitely unofficial religion of Cuba. People, who's everyday lives are infused with salsa music for generations already, are expectedly very musical themselves also. The beat is everywhere. Seems that a lot of people can play some instrument or just pick up a rhythm tumbling on an upside-down pot or something. In the evenings if you leave your window open you can for sure hear music coming from somewhere, often played live.

I've always found it funny that we Estonians describe ourselves as singing nation. Considering that our local music level and technical skill of it is pretty low/average and most of the population strongly tone-deaf (except when drinking big quantities of beer) the claim in question is quite ridiculous. Yes, we had a singing revolution, but that was due to the lack of army, not because of our musical thrive. And next to Cubans, we are still in kindergarten.

If you're into dancing salsa, then there are numerous places in every city, though in most of them you will have to deal with jineteros/jineteras who are trying to get free drinks from you. The bigger the city the more of them you will encounter.

Trinidad's Casa de La Musica was a disappointment for me though. Teaches me next time not to have too high expectations then you can't also feel let down. Trinidad's Casa de La Musica is kind of a big open-air concert site where people can dance until early morning accompanied by live salsa band. In forums some people have made it sound that it's full of local people dancing like crazy, all of them course masters of salsa, when in reality there were maybe only about 10 couples, most of them not so fluent in salsa at all. Ironically, the best dancers i saw were tourists. Rest of the crowd just stood around or sat on the stairs, faces quite dull and emotionless. I went there two nights in a row, on Saturday and Sunday, but the quality of the dancing wasn't even remotely tempting me to take out the camera, not to mention about inspiring to join. On the other hand, the band's music was superb and carried very well in the quiet nightly Trinidad. My casa particular was 5 minutes walk from the Casa de La Musica and after i returned from my nightly tour, even with all the blinds and doors closed, i could still lay awake for hours listening to the band playing.


  1. When I was in Palma recently I wanted to check out on the local discobars, that were supposed to be packed full of people even out of season. To my disappointment I had to discover most of them half empty and boring, no locals, just drunk tourists.
    The other day I gave it another try, and was smart enough to ask the bouncer whether any people actually came there and when.
    To my surprise, he answered "Yes, most start gathering at about two".
    And indeed, it turned out that my initial failure was caused by the naive assumption that by midnight to one AM the most of the crowd would already be out there, which was absolutely false - they only started queueing by 2am (and strangely, went home by 4-5 already) Could it be that the Cubans also go out for salsa only by the time you would already leave and that's why you didn't see them?

  2. Well, i was told that the midnight is a good time for visiting Trinidad's Casa De La Musica. And it was indeed packed with people, they just weren't dancing, but more just "hanging out". Maybe it was off-season for local salsa dancing masters :)


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