Tag Archives: afro cuban culture

La Vida Te Da Sorpresas y La Habana También!

I had planned thirteen days of research in Havana. I did not want to allow myself to be away from my children any longer than that. I am a Cuban and therefore had little illusion about what could be accomplished in the middle of a brutally hot tropical summer. I was well acquainted with the broken machines, the blackouts the transportation problems and miscellaneous delays…

And so it was. To start with, the National Library, the main place I was planning to work in, is to be closed until the Fall. In any case, I was doubtful of the utility of a search there. People without a history have there own histories, their own stories that have always served to help people exercise the hardships of life through the dances of son and rumba for a hundred years. My theses process requires a different type of investigation, a sort of archeology- plus time and a lucky star. The lack of previous research on Cuban popular dances makes it hard to figure out the state and location of sources. It is a headache, so “Corazon con Dios y pecho al agua”, as my Granma used to said.

My first clue is Rene Rivero, I just found two three minutes clips of him from YouTube! Tall and elegant, in the video he walks around his partner Estela, while doing the most impressive “tornillos”- son figures in that man resemble a screw, standing on a foot while the woman walks helping him to turn and to be stable- Almost eighty years after I haven’t seen nothing like it. My bridge to Rene Rivero is as uncertain as the weather in Havana, with a fifteen year old address in tow. I followed the traces of an amazing unknown man toward an street I never heard of in the heart of “Los Sitios”, one poor neighborhood in Centro Havana, whose single restoration plan is to fall down. I wish I had my video ready IPod on hand to make a nice clip of my journey. Continue reading