Cuba is known worldwide for its vibrant culture and tireless rhythms. At the stores, bars, clubs, and even on the streets. Music in Cuba is everywhere you go. Interestingly enough, the music scene of this Caribbean island is heavily influenced by its historical past, which has given rise to unique rhythms such as salsa, rumba or son. Intrigued about the secrets of Cuban music? In this article, our experts in Cuba delve into the history of music in Cuba and explore some of the best places to enjoy it live.
Brief history of music in Cuba
If Cuban music had to be a color, it would be the rainbow. There is something for everyone! Music in Cuba is a blend of various African and European musical traditions and a great testimony to their past on the island.
African influences on Cuban music can be traced back to the 16th century when African slaves were brought to Cuba to work on sugar plantations. These people also brought their own rhythms, which eventually mixed with the music brought by the Spanish and French colonizers. Those musical patterns earned their place in the history of music in Cuba and are what we identify nowadays as “son”, one of the most popular music in the island and the earliest form of Cuban music. Nowadays, this music style also features instruments like the guitar, trumpet, and percussion.
Rumba, also known as one of the most popular music in the island, is believed to have evolved in the 19th century. In its early days, rumba was primarily a street music and dance form, with its roots in the Afro-Cuban religious rituals and celebrations of the time. It was often performed in the streets and on the patios of homes, using improvised percussion instruments such as the conga drum, clave, and bongo. As rumba evolved over time, it began to incorporate elements of Spanish and other European musical traditions.
The 20th century is key in the history of music in Cuba. In the 1930s and 1940s, music in the country began to take on new forms, incorporating elements of jazz and other popular musical styles. This led to the development of genres such as mambo and cha-cha-cha, which became popular across Latin America and the United States. In the 1960s, a new genre of music emerged in Cuba: salsa. Salsa combined elements of son, mambo, and other Afro-Caribbean rhythms, and quickly gained popularity around the world.
Best places to enjoy live music in Cuba
Now that you know a bit more about the interesting history of music in Cuba, it is time to experience it on your own skin. Cuba comes to life with music, and there are plenty of places to enjoy it live. Here are a few of the best ones that Espíritu Travel has identified over the years:
- Casa de la Musica (Havana). Located in the heart of Havana, you can find one of the most iconic music venues in Cuba. Casa de la Musica has two stages, one indoors and one outdoors, and features a range of music genres from salsa to jazz.
- Tropicana (Havana) – A historic open-air nightclub that has been entertaining visitors since the 1930s. The venue features a dinner and show package that includes a delicious meal and a spectacular dance performance featuring some of Cuba’s top dancers and musicians.
- La Zorra y el Cuervo (Havana) – If you are looking for a cozy intimate atmosphere that features some of the best jazz musicians, this is your place!
- El Tablao (Santiago de Cuba). To truly experience the most popular music in the island, you have to visit El Tablao. This lively music venue is located in the heart of Santiago de Cuba and is known for its vibrant atmosphere and talented performers. It features live music performances of a variety of genres, including salsa, son, and reggaeton.
These are just a few of the many great places to enjoy live the most popular music in Cuba. From Havana’s Casa de la Música to Santiago de Cuba’s El Tablao, there ‘s no shortage of venues to explore. So, why not plan your next trip to Cuba and experience the vibrant music scene for yourself? Contact Espíritu Travel to start planning your next adventure.