Casa de la Música
Text and Photos By: Michel García
Finding the best place to have fun on a Saturday night in Havana is not always easy unless you know which places to check out. That said, you may have several options such as accepting an invitation to a Cuban friend's place, hitting a disco or bar, or simply hanging out on the Malecón, the seafront wall that stretches across the top of the capital and what many Cubans funnily consider the longest bar in the world.
I think that you can find one of the best venues for good music, dancing and great interaction with the locals in the residential area of Miramar. The Casa de la Música provides a great ambiance and the certainty of seeing some of the best Cuban salsa bands perform. While there is another Casa in Centro Habana, the Miramar venue is older and better known.
The Miramar Casa de la Música actually has two rooms, There is the main larger room and the smaller, but a ways popular, Diablo Tun Tun. In the 1930's, the legendary Septeto Nacional band (a Son music group based mainly on vocals, percussion and strings that introduced the trumpet as a lead instrument) would never have dreamed that the song they were creating would end its name, decades later, to this popular club.
While different bands play at the Casa each day of the week, most of the best performances occur during the weekend, Young people, Cubans and foreigners alike, start arriving around 5:00 p.m. for the matinee show. This is the cheaper option at between CUC$ 5 to 15, depending on the band playing and this is when you will find the biggest number of locals enjoying their drinks and snacks served at the tables. The main show general y starts at 11 :00 p.m. and can run until 3:00 a.m. and will cost you between CUC$ 15 to 25.
Powered by an excellent sound system, the bands, usually with more than a dozen members, drive hard from the first number to the last. The energy keeps building through the set as Cubans in the crowd sing the chorus of their favorite songs along with the band.
Even if you are new to salsa dancing and just want to enjoy the music, you can still have a great time by watching the sometimes incredible movements of young Cuban couples as they dance to the music. But there is not only salsa at the Casa. On Friday and Saturday nights, rock music fans have a real y wonderful space at the Diablo Tun Tun with bargain priced drinks and a band covering famous rock songs. The show starts at 5: 00 p.m. but you may want to get there early to beat the long line of people waiting to get into what has become one of the best places for rock music in the city. By 6:00 p.m., it will already be too late to find a table but people keep on coming until the place is packed full.
That is the kind of groove you can find at the Casa de la Música. You can choose what you want and, let me assure you, you won't regret it.