An innovative nightspot in the Cuban Creole image has become fashionable in Havana. Run by Artex, the Cuban commercial arts agency, El Sauce is a welcome new cultural centre and hipster hangout where trova music rules bohemian nights, delighting audiences in a space called a "Reggaeton Free Zone".
The three-year-old brain wave of Cuban host and music producer singer-songwriter Frank Delgado (of the Nueva Trova music movement led by Silvio Rodríguez and Pablo Milanés), El Sauce specializes in promoting artists of the newest trova and other fresh alternative Cuban music.
Many of the hippest music representatives of the island frequent El Sauce. Singer David Torrens, Haydeé Milanés, Diana Fuentes, Ivette Cepeda, Raúl Paz, David Blanco, the Buena Fe Duet, singer Tony Ávila, Roberto Carcasús with his alternative band Interactivo, and many others can be heard under the palm leaf roof of a large Cuban indigenous-style ranchón (a conical wood house) in a sort of café-concert.
El Sauce, which means the willow, owes its name to a large willow tree rooted just at its entrance. Inside there is room for 200 people, although increasing popularity has prompted building a modern outdoor stage for 600 people to gather on the grass.
Future plans are not only to continue emphasis on the shows, but to expand the gastronomic area, until now centered on the native Cuban and international kitchen. There is an air-conditioned restaurant-gallery able to serve 60 guests at a time, with bar and kitchen tuned to international specialties as well as typical Cuban cuisine with excellent exhibitions of Cuban artists such as Luis Alonso and Yoel del Rio Rojas.
The adjoining ranch'n remains, with a simple barbecue and bar architecturally typical of colonial Havana. Don't think twice before coming any night to enjoy the unparalleled pleasure of trova songs in the bohemian atmosphere of El Sauce.
Centro Cultural El Sauce Ninth, between 120 and 130, Playa, Havana Telephone: (53 7) 204 7061 Open from 12:00 pm to 1:00 am