Well I dicked around at home - it was clear it would not be another balmy evening like yesterday, but I wasn't exactly what the weather was doing, so I changed my clothes a few times - a long top so that my muffin top wouldn't be exposed to the wind; looser jeans to accommodate my camera and phone (see, strategic Havana dressing comes in handy at home too) so I wouldn't have to take a bag.
By the time I got out of the house, I had to practically run to Darling Harbour so I wouldn't miss the Cuban dance show. I got there with about a minute to spare. They only did three songs - it was way too short; less than half an hour. Too bad. Yarima was on song (if a dancer can be on song); the boys were suitably macho and the first set of outfits were very fetching indeed (Fraudy should always dress all in red).
After a typically chaotic rumba, Moro and Alegría came out and performed a showy cha-cha-cha; then Yarima and co returned for a chancleta/conga. Fraudy came to get me off the ground to participate. I wouldn't, so he straddled me (pictured) - not a bad pay off... He's such a cutie!
After their criminally short show, Watussi came on. They are led by Colombian Oscar, and I had liked what I'd seen them do on The Sideshow the previous week, but ... they didn't start well for me today. The first song took a while to get going, and the cold wind drove me into the food court for sashimi and nigiri and green tea. I came out a bit later for a look, but they still weren't impressing me - too many guitars and too much rock posturing. Why does he put the coristas up the back? Sure he's a fetching chap, but the energetic backing singers would certainly have added more sabor to the show if they had been in the frontline. I was impressed with the use of the metales, one of whom I believe used to play with Son Veneno, who are on tomorrow.
Watussi were followed by the Tropicana dance show - ballroom-style dancing: cha-cha-cha; rumba (the non-Cuban kind) and, I believe, a paso doble, which you don't see everyday. Thankfully. Tis a silly dance. After that was Oliver's Salsa Extravaganza. And it was not misnamed. I don't think I've ever seen so many Swarovski crystals in one place. Oliver and Luda (current world champions in one of the many "international" salsa competitions that are held around the place) danced a couple of numbers together; heads constantly wrenched around to face the front - what are they staring, at, I wondered? - smiles firmly in place. They're great dancers, but I just wonder if they could drop the competition schtick for a performance like this - no one at the festival was going to deduct points if they stopped smiling for a second. Before their show I had seen Oliver sucking face with a redhead in the food court. When he came out to do kizoumba, she was his partner. She had her face so firmly locked into his shoulder for most of it that she was just a mass of red hair punctuated by a fluffy bottom (there were a few feathers in evidence, along with the crystals, too). What an exceedingly strange dance that is. I mean if they really want to have sex, do they have to do it fully clothed in front of an audience and call it dancing? There were also a couple of numbers from Nestor and his Modus Vivendi troupe and ... quite a few other numbers. It was all very polished (apart from one couple whose routine was clearly too advanced for their abilities), but I wish 10 or 15 minutes of this lengthy performance had been given to the Cubans. Of course that's just more my thing. The crowd loved the glitz.
After capoeira, Mi Tierra arrived for their first set. Their regular drummer, Giorgio, is in Peru, unfortunately. He is a very good drummer indeed. They had a fill-in, who seemed to do a good job but her late addition meant their set lacked some of my favourite songs - there was no Pupy; no Revé. Oliver and his redhead got up on stage to dance some on-2 mambo to the band's version of Dan Den's Dale campana. Nice one.
The band did Van Van's La buena and Llevala a tu vacilón and when they started Salsa Mayor's Lo bello por dentro, I didn't recognise it, and I thought, another Van Van song? Then it got to the "pon-pon-pontela" coro and I thought "oops" ... and started dancing. Jajaja.
The crowd dances to Lo bello por dentro
There was a capoeira break - time for a small fries and hot apple pie - then back out for the band's second set, with Esto está and Anda ven y quierame, during which I danced with a guy who I thought was Cuban, but was from Martinique, then La raspadura to close - I didn't expect that. I was very happy. There were lots of other happy people there too. I believe a good time was had by all.