Multiculture, Our People

Cultura and Cubania

In its third year, the festival celebrates all that is Cuban as part of Black History Month in October and from 1st to 8th October, you can discover a little of the immense diversity of the culture of the sun-soaked island.

Gareth Barnes

This year the event promises to be the bigger and better than ever.

Beginning with the ‘El Rumbon Cubano’ at Charlie Wright’s bar in Shoreditch on Saturday 1st, the opening party evening promises to capture the atmosphere of the sultry tropical isle.

Dance the night away to the sounds of Cuban Combination, one of the most popular Cuban bands, after having learned a few steps in the dance classes with Leandro Charanga, followed by DJ Javier mixing on the decks through until 4am.

The festival takes a more serious turn on 3rd and 4th October when the actress Yuliet Cruz from Havana will lead the seminar and debate ‘To Act in Society’, discussing women and the media. The seminar on 3rd will be held at London Metropolitan University and on the following day at Canning House in Belgrave Square.

On 8th October at Floridita on Wardour Street the festival continues with ‘Pura Cuba’, the debut concert of the latest 14 piece sensation the Cuban band Orquesta Sabor Cubano. The event will be filmed and televised on the Piso 6 programme by Televisión Cubana as six top DJs provide the music well into the morning hours.

For those who prefer a more intimate atmosphere, the Cuban jazz violinist Omar Puente will be in concert with his quartet at Bolivar Hall, Grafton Way. This world renowned musician has now made England his home, but his roots and influences remain firmly grounded in his native Cuba. The concert is on Wednesday 5th October at Bolivar Hall on Grafton Way.

Yuliet Cruz will return for a special screening of ‘Habana Eva’ on 6th October at Canning House, Belgrave Square. As the lead in the Venezuelan romantic comedy, she will on hand afterwards for a debate and discussion of the film’s main themes.  As a metaphor for Cuba’s current dilemma, Eva, the protagonist, is a young seamstress who finds herself falling for an expat visiting Cuba and then has to decide between leaving with him or remaining with her lazy but loving Cuban boyfriend.

The Festival Finale on 8th October will be rounding up events with a rumba party matinee from 2-7pm. If you want to learn how to rumba, then don’t miss the finale which features London’s only all-Cuban rumba group RumbAché, as well as dance classes and Rumba and Afro-Cuban folkloric dance performances from Cubanadanza.

Live music from Jesús Cutiño y Son de Cuba, along with dance classes and DJ Flecha, will ensure that this will be an evening to remember. Events take place at Praxis, Bethnal Green.

Falling outside of the programmed festival dates, the imaginative realism of Raul Speek’s artwork will also be bringing multi-faceted colour to the walls of Bolivar Hall on Grafton Way. You will need to book in advance as places are likely to be limited for the free exhibition which runs the weekend of 25th and 26th October.

Date: Saturday 1st – Saturday 8th October

Location: Various, see website for details

For more information: visit or call 020 8883 3610.

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