Friday, November 20, 2015

La Casa Del Musica

Thursday was another lazy day. The only plans we had was to have dinner with Stripes' friend Ramón who is from Havana. I had a late start that day and then just went for a walk around the old city, stopping for a Bolivar at the La Casa Del Habana on Calle Mercaderes, which has a comfortable quartet of chairs for smoking and a another cigar and an espresso on Plaza de Armas. 

I met up with Stripes and Noodles at 3ish. We did a spin around the plaza and i bought a beautiful book from 1870 or so on adultery and one of those Cuban Revolution trading card books that they sell everywhere. Despite their ubiquity, i still think they are pretty cool. From there we walked down to the arts and crafts market where we bought nothing, save for Stripes and Noodles acquiring a couple of rum filled coconuts for sipping. On the way back to my casa to drop off my books, rather than walking, i insisted, over Stripes and Noodles' objections, that the three of us take one of the cute/cheezy coco taxis, which (barely) seats three. It was ridiculous, but very fun to zip through the narrow streets in a bright yellow ball on wheels.
We ended up at Parque Central, where we retired to the rooftop of the Hotel Parque Central for a few drinks, Cohiba Behikes, and the excellent view over the city.

We met Ramón at the Hotel Telegrafo for a drinks before we drove in his car to a restaurant in the Vedado area. Stripes had been there before and described it as "a hidden gem". Hidden no more, because as we arrived we saw a tourbus outside and the place was crammed with tourists. The restaurant was good, with a lovely atmosphere and good food (including vegetarian options), and ponds of colorfully lit fish. Over dinner, Ramón told us about the trials of operating busineses and buying and selling cars and property in Cuba and the role played by the government in all things. As do most things in Havana, dinner went late, so by the time we left it was after 11pm and Stripes suggested that we head to La Casa Del Musica in Miramar. (I wanted to go to the grittier one in Havana Central, but i was outvoted.) 

La Casa del Musica's opening act didn't start until midnight and the main act at 1am. We paid our cover and took out seat in the busy and freezing cold club. I immediately noticed one thing: no one was smoking. And then i saw flashing across the screen on stage (in Spanish) "no smoking". I was horrified. When i imagined myself in a Havana music club, i always saw myself with a large cigar. Apparently the policy at this club had changed very recently. So i sat there in the ice cold, too fresh air and stirred my mojito sadly.

Fortunately i was distracted when the opening act started: two singers, and a bevy of dancers in feathered brassieres and headdresses with a small band playing salsa music. Despite the lack of a real dance floor, couples all around us stood up and began to salsa and shimmy. I remained sensibly seated.

The main act, Bambaleo, took the stage at 1:00. We were fading at that point, but i insisted that we stay for a couple of songs. The 16 member ensemble dazzled the audience with tempting salsa beats and vocals. It was good, but my eyes were heavy and the hour late, so we left after two songs. As we left, groups of what i was told were prostitutes entered, dressed festively, in search of visiting men.

No comments: