The G Street Park rockers (I)

Irina Echarry
Irina Echarry

Nightlife for young people in Havana continues on a decline. Yes, early in the evening you can go to the cinema or theater but after 9 or 10 the options are increasingly limited. The entrance fee charged to most places to dance and release adrenaline as well as meet people of similar tastes and age, is in Pesos Convertibles (a hard currency also known as CUCs).

For many people (especially students), it is difficult to obtain that currency. That’s why it’s most likely that any given weekend night many youths wind up being in front of the television, or alongside some friend’s sound system, or hanging out on the Malecón seawall befriended by a bottle of rum.

The entrance fee to most places to dance is charged in a currency, the CUC, which most young people don’t have. Photo: Caridad
The entrance fee to most places to dance is charged in a currency, the CUC, which most young people don’t have. Photo: Caridad

In our city, youth are as dissimilar as they are in any other country, no matter how much the propagandists insists on dressing them up as all having the same likes and outlooks; it’s not like that. But the most insufferable occurrence always has to do with having a good time.

Those who listen to Reggaeton don’t have any big problems. Despite the fact that society constantly maligns that music, there are plenty of places to listen, socialize and dance to it without hardly ever being bothered.

Those who like trova are no longer as isolated as they were in the past; there is a host of gatherings where people can go to enjoy the verses and guitars. And salsa dancing is the favored if a national celebration is involved.

Nevertheless, things have not changed a lot for the rockers.

G Street is also known as the Avenue of the Presidents. Here in the background is Salvador Allende. Photo: Caridad

A few days ago I went to a Zeus concert (the oldest Cuban rock group). I tried to cover it for Havana Times, but the concert was cancelled at the last moment without any previous warning, though it had been announced in all the cultural billboards that week. The exasperation accompanied the fans all the way to G Street. I decided to “go down” (which in Cuban slang means to go to a concert or G Street Park) to listen their comments.

– Did you see that? It’s always the same thing.

– Take it easy, there’s no problem, we’re here now…

– But we can’t listen to music here, the neighbors have already complained… if they opened The Patio again…

– Imagine what we could do…

Several years ago the Patio de Maria was the place to listen to the music of their choice. Groups still around today debuted at that place, and though others lasted for just a short time, it was The Patio where they were created. Along with recorded music, it delighted the lovers of rock from the end of the 80s until it closed it. Since then, youth have had to just wander the streets of Vedado, converging especially on G Street, one of the most central avenues of Havana.

The G Street Promenade-Park in Havana. Photo: Caridad

They come adorned in black, with mythical monsters and rock-star idols on their attire, with hair of varying length, in groups or alone. Young and not so young, rockers don’t have anywhere else to go.

They anxiously hope for some official celebration in which a band might play, or that some leftist foreign group comes to perform at the Anti-imperialist Bandstand, like the times when Audioslave and Sepultura brought sheer delight to their Cuban fans.

2 thoughts on “<em>The G Street Park rockers (I)</em>

  • As you are pointing out so very well here, the cuban government really needs to lighten up — and even provide you young people with the permanent facilities and resources with which to have a good time at the end of the day, etc… Repressing or ignoring “outside [capitalist] influences” like rock or punk or reggaeton or hip-hop (I don’t like most hip-hop myself. I’m a jazz kinda guy. This is about allowing others to enjoy cultural activities which one doesn’t necessarily agree with, right?) simply hands imperialism one more weapon with which to beat the Cuban Revolution over the head. Cuba should by now have become a cultural mecca for a lot more than simply latin-jazz, etc., for instance, where it concerns music and the other arts. Socialism is supposed to be about much more than the ersatz, commercial “freedom” we have here in the imperialist West. Demonstrate this difference please, you revolutionaries in the cuban government. Do so concretely. Honestly. Soon.

  • It sounds like you’re a bit of a rocker yourself Irina. Do you have any favorites?

    My musical tastes range a bit. The only music don’t like is american gangster rap and american christian rock (ugh).

    I listen to everything from Giraldo Piloto y Klimax, El Medico, M.I.A., Chopin, Corinne Bailey Rae, the Beatles, one of my favorites that very few people have heard of: Alabama3 and even Rihanna. In fact, I listen to lots and lots of salsa and salsaton, because I salsa dance (cuban style of course).

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