Where to Go in Santiago de Cuba

17 04 2011

I have previously written (here) about the difficulty in finding out what is on, entertainment wise, in Santiago de Cuba. I’ve since had my attention drawn by John Abbotsford to this web-site: http://promociones.egrem.co.cu/ , which has details of who is appearing in some Santiago venues.

In order to assist future or potential travellers to Santiago, I thought that I would list the main places of entertainment in the city. It’s not a comprehensive list for the whole city, but does include all of the main places. I hope that people find it useful.

Live Music

Casa de la Trova, Calle Heredia

A great city centre venue, on two floors. The main room is upstairs, with a wooden balcony overlooking the street below. Live music every night, normally son bands. Admission normally 5 CUC. Mostly tourists.

Downstairs is a smaller room where they have bands playing in the afternoon. Next door is another room, where older singers sing boleros from about 11am onwards.

Casa de la Musica, Calle Corona

Another great city centre venue. More like a night club, with air conditioning. A band – either son or salsa – and DJ most nights, although Saturdays and Sundays it’s DJ only. Saturdays is for youths. Admission normally between 3 and 10 CUC. Mostly tourists, but a few more Cubans than Casa de la Trova.

Patio de Artex, Calle Heredia

One block from the Casa de la Trova, a single storey venue in an old city centre house, with the music in the patio behind. Live bands mornings, late afternoon and evening. Admission normally 2 CUC in the evening. Normally son. More of a mix of tourists and Cubans.

Has superb bolero sessions on a Saturday afternoon, between 2.30 and 5pm. Admission free. Various singers, often from the big cabaret venues.

Patio de los Dos Abuelos, Plaza de Marte

Another venue with son and salsa bands playing on the patio. Live music every night. Admission 2 CUC. Same kind of mix as Artex.

Casa de las Tradiciones,Tivoli

A really great venue. A traditional style house, with the band playing in the front room. The audience – a good mixture of locals and tourists – sit on up-turned barrels or rocking chairs. Some great son bands. Admission 2 CUC.

Bar Claqueta, Santo Tomas (next to Rialto Cinema)

An outdoor venue with son bands and a DJ. Admission 2CUC.

Casa del Caribe, Avenida Manduley,VistaAlegre

An excellent venue in the leafy Vista Alegre district, in a grand old house. The stage is to the side of the house, in a courtyard surrounded and sheltered by high trees. There is a statue of murdered Grenadian socialist Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. Music most nights. Each Sunday afternoon from 4.30 until about 7pm is a rumba (traditional Afro-Cuban style) session. Hardly any tourists. Tourist admission 1CUC. Well worth visiting.

Salon del Son, Enramada

Decent son and salsa bands in a nightclub type venue. Priced in CUP. Mostly Cubans. I’ve been there twice and both times the waitress tried to rip me off, which has rather put me off of this venue, particularly as when I mentioned it to other people, they said that the same had happened to them – both Cubans and non-Cubans.

 

Cabarets

Cabaret is a popular entertainment form inCuba. This can range from a few singers and dancers with a compere, to a magnificent floor show with dozens of dancers and an orchestra.

Tropicana

This is situated about 4 or 5 km from the city centre. Should cost no more than 5CUC in a cab. An immaculate venue built in the 1990s, when tourism was taking off. The cabaret is situated outdoors. A huge show that lasts about 2 hours, with a full-size orchestra playing in the background. Admission is 20CUC  for foreigners or 30CUP for Cubans on the door.

The travel agencies offer trips from  the Santiago hotels for 37CUC, which includes transport, admission, half a bottle of rum and two cans of cola for each couple; and a small plate of cheese, ham and olives for each person. If there are two or more of you, it’s probably cheaper to do it yourselves.

After the show there is music and dancing in the cabaret area. There is also an adjacent discotheque, which I have not been to, but my understanding is that you pay an additional entrance fee (5CUC); it is open until 4 or 5am; and it is full of hustlers.

El Congreso

In El Caney, about 4 or 5km from city centre. I have not been there, but have heard mixed reports. A cabaret followed by a disco. Priced in CUP. Some say it’s good, others say that it is a very young crowd with occasional trouble.

El Piano

On the road to El Caney, opposite the hospital. About 3 or 4 km from city centre. Small show followed by disco. Priced in CUP, although when I went there (which was after 1am) they wanted me to pay admission in CUC (5).

Hotel LasAmericas, Avenida de lasAmericas

A small show in the gardens of the hotel, later repeated inside the disco. From memory, it is 5CUC admission with a couple of drinks included.

 

Discotheques

In the UK the word discotheque fell out of popular usage more than 20 years ago. We now refer to such places as nightclubs. However, in Cuba they still have discotecas. I am not a big fan of them. The music is nearly all reggaeton. The DJ generally does not interact with the crowd, but instead sits behind a booth whilst what the dancers see is a big video-screen. However, these are some of the discotecas inSantiago:

Café Santiago

In the Hotel Melia Santiago. Big queues at weekends. I tried to get in once, but the queue was too long. I think that admission is 5CUC – I’m not sure if that includes any free drinks or not.

Hotel lasAmericas

Opposite the Melia Santiago. Cabaret show followed by DJ. 5CUC admission (includes three drinks). Loud, smoky, full of jinateras (Cuban girls looking to hook up with tourists)

Tropicana

See cabaret section above

Club Iris, Calle Enramada

Near to Plaza de Marte. Small club, mostly Cubans. Admission 2CUC.

 

Cinemas

Cine Rialto, Felix Pena

Cine Capitolio, Avenida Victoriano Garzon

Cine Cuba, Enramada

The above cinemas are in surprisingly good condition. Admission 2CUP. Mostly Spanish language films, but also some English language with subtitles.

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4 responses

18 04 2011
John Abbotsford

A fantastic summary – well done!!
Hope you have put a link on Ttree and Tripadviser?
Also why don’t you send it to the LPlanet Cuba Guide although I suspect that the new 2011 edition has probably already been put to bed.

18 04 2011
Jennifer Thorsborne

agreed – and so evocative the vids, thanks so much. Can’t wait to get there in julio and shoot more of my own – but I note the admission prices all seem to have risen since last year 😦

17 08 2011
Michelle

Hi, I’m going to Cuba in October staying in Holguin but I shall be doing an overnight trip to Santiago probably staying at the Melia Hotel. I was wondering about all these lovely venues above, do they allow 16 year olds in them? I’m hoping to go to The Tropicana show but not sure if my son is too young. I would also like to go to the Casa De La Trova but again not sure about age limits. Unfortunately we’ll only have 24hrs in the city but would like something to do in the evening rather than just hanging around the hotel.

18 08 2011
leytono

I have seen under-age people in the Casa de la Trova, so that will not be a problem. I do not know for sure about Tropicana, but would be surprised if it was a problem

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