Tuesday, June 10, 2008
A final jonrón
My last day in Havana (Saturday, June 7) found me fighting off the unpleasant side effects from the antibiotics prescribed by the nice ear, nose & throat guy (which, incidentally, worked), I was almost paralysed by the amount of things I had to do before I left at midnight - one thing, though, was definitely not negotiable: La Revé at a Miramar matinee.
Unfortunately Duni had to leave to play a gig at Cotorro with Pupy that night which meant a) I couldn’t see Los Que Son Son (they were playing too late) and b) Duni couldn’t hang with me before he left (he had to get the guagua out there too early). So about 6.30-ish I walked down the 57 stairs that lead down to my street (for the second last time) on my own and flagged down a cab to take me to Miramar.
Martin had said he would go too, but inside there was no sign of him. Well I’m pretty sure he wasn’t there but the incessant strobe lighting (and the accompanying reggaeton) did interfere with my senses somewhat, so I can’t be sure.
There was an excellent crowd, mostly Cuban, out for a nice Saturday arvo with Revé, having a tipple and a dance. Reynario, their charming Indian fast bowler singer (if he gets tired of playing with Revé, maybe he could have a successful career in Bollywood) greeted me warmly, after which I sat down with bajista Aisar and put my hands over my ears to try and shut out the racket. After what seemed like an eternity (about 30 minutes), the band went on stage, kicking off with Fresquecito - it sounded awesome (I love that song). I immediately skipped down the front, but it was a bit lonely down there - just me and one other couple - everyone else was still sitting down.
The band was swinging and there was no sign of Elito, and I thought maybe he wasn’t going to show, and how obviously they didn’t really need him anyway, but of course he was just waiting to make his grand entrance. He came out and said OK, OK, everybody get up and come to the front. And I couldn’t believe it, that’s exactly what everybody did. (And he only said it once!) The only other person I’ve seen get that kind of compliance is Tanya, and hey, she used to work in a childcare centre.
La madrugada, which sounded great, and El dinero, just about the only song Disco Fiesta ever plays from the album, which was too long (as usual), were followed by Boniato which, thanks to singer Alexander, was also long - but not too long, as I can’t really get enough of that song. The others in the band could though - each time the band tried to wrap it up Alexander would come back in with another exhortation for the audience to sing along with him, until the musos behind him were rolling their eyes, and cantante Dagoberto was hysterical with laughter. Finally they did a big stadium rock band finish, with much crashing of cymbols, and the song came to a close. I thought it was all good really.
Then Sinsonte came to the front for Mi salsa tiene - can’t get enough of that song either - I have had some of the best casino/rueda dances of my life to that song. Not tonight though. Tonight I was just dancing sola. Just me and the rest of the crowd. Pretty much wore me out for Jonrón - holy crap that song is fast. Not so keen on it making an appearance so late in the set - I need to be a bit fresher to take that one on.
Next was a lovely surprise - Ya no te doy más na’, which I hadn’t seen them play on this trip, sung by Reynario. He struggled a bit with the high notes in the beginning but he quickly settled into it. It was heaps good. I had moved up the back, but scampered down the front as soon as I heard the opening notes. One of the problems when you know some of the band members is that you know that they are watching you too, so they see you when you’re dancing you’re ass off, and when they do a song that makes you think, 'now’s a good time to get some water/sit down ...' I always feel really guilty that they’re thinking: 'what’s wrong with this song? Why isn’t she dancing?' Of course they're probably really thinking: "Gee, I hope she's gone to get me a beer."
The room was in full party mode - everyone was drinking and dancing. Really nice vibe. Then they finished with Se sigue comentando - the full version, not just the start-from-the-end-of-the-cuerpo-to-finish-off-the-gig version. But the house lights came on a couple of minutes in, even though it was still about 10 minutes shy of closing. They always do that - god forbid that there should still be people in there at 9pm. Then as soon as the band came off they were booting everyone out - the band included.
I walked with Aisar, his beautiful girlfriend, a mate from Camaguey and his girlfriend, a Russian girl who has lived in Cuba since she was nine, down to 31, where we got a máquina to Vedado. It was one of those classic pre-revolution máquinas - rusty old body, creaking suspension, but it had a brand new CD player (claro) and Aisar got the driver to play some songs from the new project he is working on (more about that in the forthcoming weeks). We ate pizza in the cafe next to the Yarra cinema while the russa grilled me about Australia which, it turns out, is kind of an obsession of hers.
All this made me forget that I had to get on a plane and I hadn’t yet finished packing. Oops. I had to leave the charming company and bust up the convivial conversation being enjoyed by the taxi drivers outside Coppelia, so one of them could take me back to Centro Habana.
Posted by Yemaya at 2:05 pm