We frequently pine over not being able to freely and legally travel to Cuba on Uncommon Caribbean, but here in South Florida, I’m blessed with free and easy access to the next best thing – Miami. Here, Little Havana landmarks like Domino Park and the Walkway of the Stars, combine with vibrant annual festivals, like Calle Ocho to re-create the spirit of the largest and most sheltered Caribbean island just 200 or so miles to the south. (The occasional Cerveza La Tropical helps too.)
Next Friday, I plan to enjoy the strong cultural ties between Miami and Cuba by taking in a performance of Los Muñequitos de Matanzas at the magnificent Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami. I’ve never seen them before, but from what I can see and hear in the video above, it promises to be a special night.
Los Muñequitos de Matanzas are keepers of the rumba flame. Not the sanitized, sugary sweet rumba pre-packaged for U.S. tourists visiting Havana in the pre-Castro days, I’m talking about the REAL rumba. The rumba that grew out of Cuba’s rural areas and the backstreets of Havana and Matanzas in the 1800’s, a product of African influences brought over by slaves and perpetuated by the working class.
Often denigrated, suppressed, or condemned as being lewd, la rumba is the quintessential rhythm of Afro-Cuban culture. I hope to have a lot more to share about it after the show next Friday. Until then, enjoy the video, or click here to check out the group’s website.