bongomania - Interesting. What brought you to Cuba? Where were the free/cheap concerts you attended held? Were those concerts open to the public? What acts did you see?
I went to study drumming, and I was there for six weeks, mostly in the outer end of Oriente Province. The concerts were held in multiple types of venues: open air stages (both in downtown and in the rural outskirts), cafes, hotels, cultural centers, and music schools that had performance spaces. The only ones that charged any money at all were the tourist trap cafes and cultural centers, where the entry fee was typically one US dollar and a one drink minimum (also one dollar). But even in those places, they had windows open to the sidewalk where anyone could watch and listen for free. Most of the acts I saw were local or regional, not internationally known, but I did see NG La Banda, Los Papines, and El Guayabero.
What a great gesture by giving to those unfortunate souls who have been crippled by a dictator. Bravo!!!!
While Castro is undoubtedly a dictator, the crippling of the country was caused by an economic blockade from outside.
re: no one there could afford their regular ticket price!
I thought Cuba was a worker's paradise.
I realize you're making a joke, but I saw concerts for free or cheap nearly every day and night I was there. The arts are supported and widely available to people who have little money.
Of course it's complicated, and I don't want to fire up politics here.
The arts are supported as long as the artists themselves are ideologically correct, or members of the party and/or their extended family.
" Complicated " is something many of us here would listen to you explain . It's the " ..of course " bit that intrigues me .
I think you understood me. Yes, there is ideological censorship. And it's "of course" because Cuba is full of amazing greatness and beauty in addition to many negative and tragic elements, and they are all intertwined.
For example I studied a music genre called changui which would probably have died out completely if it weren't for state-sponsored promotion of historic Cuban culture and music. So it's great that I got to learn some of that style first hand, and hear it performed in the streets in its home region, but that was only the case because it got a stamp of approval from the government.
Also there was terrible classism and racism, plus prostitution, at any music venue where they charged admission or a drink minimum. At Casa de la Cultura I saw a young black boy trying to see over the window edge to watch the show, and I gave him a dollar and invited him in. The doorman refused him entry, and would not relent until I raised a stink and also bought multiple drinks. Yet the music was amazing, and went all night, and people outside the windows were clapping and singing along. Complicated.