Monday, April 17, 2023

CUBA BABY: Havana Day Four Portrait Workshop, Ladies Dancing Salsa

Day Four In Cuba,  
Photography Workshop - Portraits

Today we studied light, working to master it with casual portraits.
Alan's turn to pose...

Then took a short stroll in Old Havana

The Woven Straw Hat Vendor with his mobile rack...

Piggy-backed onto a professional shoot in Poet's Alley, 
young model poses for video and still cameramen.
Not sure what the product was they were trying to illustrate, her, makeup or the dress.
She didn't move so don't think it was a music video.

Nearby an older model dressed in a traditional Cabana Nightclub outfit 
waits for a tourist to pay for a photo of her and her two friends.
Another portrait captured without the subject knowing it.


Saturday evening we went to a social event for the older generation in Havana's New National Theater. 
The space can only accommodate 80-100 persons so reservations were necessary. 
Our Doctor friend knew the manager. He got us in on short notice.

When we arrived late at 5:30, the ladies had already warmed up the floor dancing since 4 pm. 
The majority of the people there were widows, some couples. In the States we would call this a senior citizen's dance, not in Cuba. Here it is an exclusive dance party requiring reservations.

Some of the ladies were quite spirited with their salsa dance moves. 
And they knew all the words to all the great songs they grew up with.

As the beat goes on, more and more people joined in on the dancing.
Using a cane for walking was no excuse for not getting out on the dance floor.

The ladies were cutting loose, really enjoying themselves.
It was not alcohol loosening them up, it was the beat of the music that awakens their memories.

As different singers got on the stage to entertain, the party grew even more lively.

Since there is a regular shortage of gentlemen partners to dance with, 
the savvy manager brings in professional dancers to keep the ladies moving and happy.

Don't have a partner, no worry! Dance by yourself among the tables.
Everyone else is doing it!

This B&W photo does not do justice to the lady in the lemon yellow dress, so...

...this is Alan's shot. That's better!
A striking beauty.

Even younger singers could keep the beat going. 
A total of seven or eight different singers entertained this group.

Another performer had a dancer join her on the stage as they rocked the beat.

While people danced, I did my dance, capturing images.
Alan grabbed this shot as the lady in white showed me her moves.

A unique Cuban art form of entertainment is poetry. Like a battle of the bands, but is a Battle of the Poets. Each in turn making a very emotional, dramatic recitation of their poem. In Cuba's history, many poems became song lyrics and vice versa.

By eight PM the lights were turned up, the crowd reluctant to end so early, slowly dispersed.

This Saturday night event will repeat itself once again in seven days. 
Entry fee is the equivalent of one US Dollar.

We felt honored as foreigners to be allowed to experience this local entertainment.

Outside the theater Che and Camillo, two 1959 revolution martyrs, preside over the empty Plaza...

As we leave the Theater, we notice a younger crowd entering 
for an art show on the lower level.

The music and arts scene in Havana is alive and thriving.

Back at the apartment,  exhausted Alan and I relax with cigars and a Cuba Libre.
Marianna took this shot.

And our Cuban adventure continues... 
The Havana tourist sites we thought we would visit and photograph 
are quickly fading from definite plans to maybe if there's time. 
So many doors have been opened for us, there are not enough hours in the day for routine touristy stuff.

Tomorrow, last day of the photo workshop, 
then Monday, an outing with the sidecar Club.

(Many thanks to Alan for sharing some of his color photos here.)


  1. Wow, this is what I call a great vacation! Everybody seems to be enjoying themselves!

    1. Great vacation, but I'll write it up as a working trip.

  2. Those dancers were very impressive in their enjoyment of dancing eclipsing the vagaries and aches of old age!

    1. You are so right, in our minds we are all still teenagers eager to dance all night long. Dancing is an endorphin that triggers those joyful memories of our youth.


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