Prado and Neptuno, the corner of cha-cha-cha

Prado and Neptuno, the corner of cha-cha-cha

Heritage & Traditions

By Beatriz Ruiz Alonso

Music in Cuba is present in virtually everywhere in the national territory, it is one of the reasons that has made the island famous in the world, although there are places that have been inscribed in a special way in its rich history, such as the corner in downtown Havana.

The central Havana intersection of Prado and Neptuno is the birthplace of one of the most famous dances created in the island, the rhythmic cha-cha-cha, which gained international popularity since the early 1950s.

In the dance halls of the Silver Star society, located on the top of a building located in the intersection, the orchestra América premiered La engañadora (Deceptive girl), the first song identified with the new rhythm, created in 1948 by the composer and then first violin of the Enrique Jorrín group (1926-1987). 

"To Prado and Neptuno / there was a young girl / that all men / had to look at ... But everything in this life / is known, without even finding out / It has been known that in her curves / there are only fillings...", says the letter apparently inspired by a girl who used pads to accentuate her curves, although there are other versions about the origin of her curves. 

The truth is that the danceable music, whose name is attributed to the brushing of the dancers on the floor, and also to the sound of the tearing on the güiro, caused fury and immortalized Prado and Neptuno, today as yesterday, one of the busiest corners of the Cuban capital.

Those dance halls no longer exist, nor do their protagonists; yet the value of this convergence of streets persist, which has in its surroundings places of great interest such as the nineteenth-century and renovated Hotel Telegraph, just opposite, the Inglaterra and Central Park hotels, the Grand Theater of Havana Alicia Alonso, the Capitol of Havana ..., in addition to its own location, the emblematic Paseo del Prado.