Nightlife & the Arts in Havana
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Music is a Cuban passion rivaled only by baseball and the Revolution itself. Everyone here knows who El Médico de la Salsa (The Salsa Doctor) is and what type of music he plays. Los Van Van, Beny Moré, and Compay Segundo are all celebrities on the order of Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, or Elvis. Caribbean, Spanish, African, and American rhythms have been combined to create more than three dozen musical styles, which are themselves evolving into still more varieties. To experience the music of Cuba is to learn about it, and Havana offers plenty of opportunities for both. The city also has splashy cabaret revues as well as jazz haunts and cafés that offer quieter entertainment.
Dance performances—from traditional ballet to traditional Afro-Cuban—are also options. If your Spanish is good, you'll appreciate the active film, theater, and literary scenes. You don't need any Spanish to enjoy the art exhibited in Havana's many galleries. Attire at theaters and other venues ranges from cocktail dresses and jackets and ties to blue jeans and shorts. Tickets are nearly always available (check with your hotel concierge) at box offices and are very inexpensive by European or North American standards.
Cartelera, a Spanish-English weekly published by the Instituto Cubano del Libro and usually available free at major hotels, lists concerts, plays, and other artistic events. Opciones is another bilingual weekly publication with cultural listings. The Programación Cultural, published monthly in Spanish by the Oficina del Historiador de la Ciudad (Office of the City Historian), has what is probably the most complete schedule of events. Ask for a copy at Museo de la Ciudad in the Plaza de Armas.
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