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Dancing in the Night in Cuba

Dancing in the Night in Cuba

by Ricardo Alberto Pérez

Cuba has a well-known reputation for its invigorating nightlife designed mainly for a more spontaneous type of entertainment style. But at the same time, these evening shows are characterized by the fact that they pay rigorous attention to artistic canons. Some of the factors that have contributed to the legendary showmanship are the richness of Cuba’s popular music and the sensuality of our dancers.

For over 70 years, the main dance-based show of this type is the one at the famous Tropicana Cabaret, located in the Marianao district of Havana. Its first show took place in 1939 and ever since then it has been receiving recognition from all over the world as “a Paradise under the Stars” brought to life by its line-up of exotic dancers and intoxicating rhythms.

For all these years, the Tropicana Show has contributed much to the concept of how an excellent group of dancers can combine mastery and professionalism to captivate the interest of the most demanding of audiences. Obviously, these performances rely on a dazzling array of costumes which have been designed to highlight typically Cuban characteristics. The wild colors and sequins form a fantasy-based canvas put together with style and taste and with an eye to emphasize the striking bodies of the dancers.

This genre of dance show has been proliferating all over Cuba. Their success lies in the fact that they have excellent choreography that attempts to communicate attractive stories from our past. And so, through the medium of dance, today’s audiences can become even more familiar with them.

Other nightclubs that are an integral part of Havana nightlife history are the Cabaret Parisién at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, the Salón Rojo at the Capri Hotel, the Copa Room at the Riviera Hotel and the El Turquino show at the Habana Libre Hotel.

As tourism to Cuba increased during the 1990s, the number of new hotels multiplied as did other tourist facilities, and many of them were creating shows using local artistic talent, principally dancers. As time went by, the dancers working in these shows became more and more professional, going on to perform at other shows, even taking part in successful international tours.

Besides the capital of Havana, nightlife in Cuba’s many beaches and in other cities like Cienfuegos, Trinidad or Santiago de Cuba has been enlivened by shows in which dance is a major component. As a byproduct of this creative explosion, the entertainment genre of the cabaret or nightclub spectacle has become firmly implanted throughout the Island.

In addition, Cuba has developed new styles of creating and staging cabaret shows, especially by combining a number of different artistic manifestations. The dance numbers make use of the rich palette of Cuban music such as the son, danzón, guaracha, guajira, mambo, rumba, cha-cha-chá, pilón, mozambique, salsa, timba and conga. Many of these shows give the audiences an opportunity to interact directly with the performers, thereby adding freshness and spontaneity to the performances. The result creates a definitely unforgettable evening for all.

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