Sunday, May 04, 2008
Fiesta Popular, Cotorro
Saturday night: Pupy y Los que son son
The band’s meeting place for their trips outside of La Habana is, conveniently, Galiano. Duniesky and I went down at the designated time, 8.30, and were the first there. At 9.15, we pushed off, in the old yellow school bus. It had zero suspension, and names written in felt pen above the seats: Kaila; Kristen, Brittany, Tyler, Dalton, Jessica, Jesse. They don’t seem very Cuban, those names, but then, I don’t know many 9-year-old Cubans. We arrived in the square of Cotorro about half an hour later - it’s not that far from Havana but it seemed further in that rattler. The square was old-fashioned, with colonial buildings painted in traditional colours of duck egg blue and ecru and plenty of trees. People were arriving in the back of trucks. The gig was in the backyard of the Casa de la Cultura. Outside the Casa was a thick jungle of greenery - banana trees and other lush plantlife. Inside was a sloping expanse of rough concrete that ended in a stage lit by fluorescent tubes and topped by a corrugated iron roof. The toilet was a middle class westerner’s nightmare - a long passage inches deep in piss leading, finally, to the bowl. Though some thoughtful soul had placed a stack of Granmas on the tank to be used as required. The Casa itself had a wide terrace overlooking the stage and inside the largely deserted interior there were various instruments including congas and a pristine piano. One of the nice things about seeing bands play at the various Casas de la Cultura is that there are always teenagers there dancing casino and rueda (the Casas serve to maintain Cuban cultural traditions) doing complicated figures (lamentably on this night, to Jerry Rivera, and later, more understandably, to Charanga). They were dancing on the terrazza, but when they started a rueda there, an older woman ushered them downstairs into the concrete yard. Outside people gathered in the street while cops let them in slowly, scanning them for weapons. When the band hit the stage just before 11, it was only half full; but 90 minutes later it was packed, people arriving clutching bottles of varying descriptions, but all seemingly containing rum. There were lots of people dancing casino and no telephones or cameras in evidence (unlike in Havana). The set was exactly the same as Friday’s at Casa de la Musica, until about the 60 minute mark, when Timba a pogolotti would have appeared. In its place was the new song for Mandy, Nadie puede contra eso. Great, roaring track. Then Pepito delivered La borrachera, which got a few people who hadn’t been dancing to their feet. Then it was time for Timba a pogolotti - which got the kids out in force (back on the terrace now, because by this time there was hardly any room at all below), showing their spaghetti arm moves. A tiny baby in a bonnet and booties (the nights have been around 20C) slept, despite the noise; while a boy of about ten sat with his fingers in his ears. I didn’t danced much, as I thought jiggling might require another trip to the bathroom or might make me thirsty and want to drink more (not that there was anything to drink, apart from the chiquitico bottle of water which I had brought), and therefore require another trip to the bathroom. I feel like a bit of a dick about that. I mean, after all, what’s a bit of piss on your jeans in exchange for a dance? As we were leaving, I saw Pupy, his white pants still immaculate, step inside el baño. Guess they wouldn’t be immaculate for long... When I got home I found I had dogshit on my sequinned Chuck’s from walking through Centro Habana.
Posted by Yemaya at 3:30 am