Beatlemania in Havana

Photo Feature by Elio Delgado

Beatlemania in Havana

HAVANA TIMES, August 7 — The Beatles phenomenon arrived belatedly in our country thanks to the resistance mounted against it by the State media here.

Anglophone culture, jeans, long hair, Harley-Davidson choppers, pop art, rock and non-Latin dance music were considered arms of the enemy designed to politically and ideologically penetrate our ranks and to seduce our forces. Therefore, those of us who liked those elements were branded as being ideologically disoriented.

We didn’t understand how they could be branded as counter-revolutionaries if they were against the Viet Nam war; or if, when we translated their writings, we could understand their beautiful, noble and clear ideas; or if they were —in the true sense of the word— peaceful rebels and advocates of peace and justice.

When John Lennon died, homage was paid to him here too – concealed it’s true, but it was done. In various ways we expressed our pain for that irreparable loss.

We were not mistaken

That’s why today, when we see that there’s a park in Havana with a statue of him and bearing his name, a mixture of bitterness and pain along with a deep feeling of victory invades us. We cannot stop to think of those who are no longer, of those who died without knowing it was recognized that we were right, that we were not mistaken.

John Lennon Park in Havana

Something we will always remember was the moment when Cuban musical composer and performer Leo Brouwer publically stated that the Beatles had revolutionized the music of the 20th century.

This position, held by one of the most prestigious figures of our culture of all time, made the dogmatists and their mistaken and retrograde ideas tremble. Nonetheless, it was still necessary to wait many years to be able to demonstrate our affinity for this great group that has influenced not only the music of Latin America, including Cuba, but has notably influenced very important Cuban musicians.

I think that it’s that feeling of nostalgia for the prohibited, for the banned, for the deeply criticized, is what compelled us to have an event now called “Beatlemanía en La Habana.” In it, to our great satisfaction, several generations come together.

Undoubtedly our children and even our grandchildren have grown up humming the songs of the Beatles, and now we are able to attend, hand in hand, to see and enjoy the diverse activities planned.

Once again challenging reality —since it concurred with the holding of the FIFA Soccer World Cup— this event took place at both the Plaza Cultural Center and the John Lennon Park on August 3, and concluded the next day at the Maxim Rock Theater in the evening.

There was also a photo exhibit illustrative of their songs, and in which one could also write down their feelings about the work and presence of the Beatles.

At John Lennon Park, the activities among Beatlemaniacs were set to take place at 8.00 p. m.; however, people of all ages began arrive early. Among them were those who pointedly called our attention to the adults of our generation on Harley-Davidsons.

With John Lennon as a witness, Beatlemanía in Havana concluded.

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