The Rockers of G Street Park (II)

Irina Echarry
Irina Echarry

Maxim Rock opened last year thanks to the Cuban Rock Agency. It’s a place where several bands alternate, and where for only five pesos youth can spend a few hours releasing energy. It’s rumored that they’re going to close it down. These are just rumors, but in Cuba there’s a saying that goes “when the river’s currents make sound… rocks are dragging beneath.”

There is gossip circulating that is really absurd; like that they found a dead cat, and when they analyzed it, the animal had drugs in its blood. Other stories have spread about how they want to use the site (which has very good conditions) for other uses that have nothing to do with rock. There’s a lot of hearsay, but possibly none of it is concrete – let’s hope not.

Going home from a night at the park. Photo: Caridad
Going home from a night at the park. Photo: Caridad

Our young rockers return time and time again to G Street Park, which they share with a number of police officers (both uniformed and in street clothes) who are keeping close tabs on the fans. The officers look at the youth with faces wondering “who are these strange kids?” A patrol car makes its rounds slowly along the avenue, as if its passengers are awaiting the precise moment to intervene.

I have sat in the park, where the kids walk toward the sea or return from it, since this is where the street ends. They sit and talk, some carrying guitars, others laughing loudly, others drinking. The atmosphere isn’t at all strange. So what bothers the police?

Is it the youths’ hair, their clothes, their style? Maybe it’s the bad reputation that they’ve gotten; many people think that drugs circulate from hand to hand in G Street Park, regardless of the age of those using it. Don’t they know that you don’t have to go to this park to find drugs?

A few months ago, almost in the middle of the night, I heard voices in the stairway of the building where I live. I opened it to see who was so close to my door. I was surprised to find two teenagers preparing a white powder, while another person (someone older) was watching over them.

The only thing that I could say at that moment was, “A state security officer lives in the apartment in front; if he catches you it’s not going to turn out good.” The boys practically ignored me, and only left when the white powder was flooding their blood and thoughts. They returned to the sweet-sixteen birthday party in the building next door, which they had left to take their drugs, supposedly done so out of sight.

Despite the campaigns carried out in the Cuban media against drug abuse, there are people who spend time and money on amphetamines or various types of powders, but not all of them listen to rock. Moreover, many of them hate it. I have seen them, I’ve been surprised myself, and I’ve heard stories.

The police should also know this. The problem with the rockers is their stereotype. People think that since they’re strange, they’re liable to do anything.

We continue to live as if life doesn’t progress, as if we’re all not entitled to grow up like we want, to do what we like without anybody judging us or putting harmful labels on us.

That’s why Yuri, an old school rocker from the rough Alamar neighborhood, says they can kick us out of any other place, but “they won’t take away our park, we’ve spent too many years there.”