By: Post Staff
Left to right: David Figueroa “DJ Melao”, along with vocalists Dantes Ardosa, Aned Mota, and Lazaro Maya from Charanga Habanera, a world-famous Cuban music group, posing with the man responsible for opening cultural exchange with Cuba. Photo by David Figueroa.
Last week on December 22, the Bay Area, and specifically San Francisco was again the beneficiary of the efforts of a small group of people who believe the motto, “culture cures,” and by producing yet another Cuban music show in the Bay Area, put their beliefs in action.
For the first time since the year 2000, a world-famous group, David Calzado y su Charanga Habanera, performed a show and it took place in San Francisco, after which the group returned to give two more shows to Miami – their point of entry.
Local attorney, producer, and music lover, Bill Martinez introduced the group onstage at Café Cocomo, a local dance venue that donated their club for the show. “Culture cures,” said Mr. Martinez, who coined the phrase, to a joyous crowd of fans as the show began.
Mr. Martinez, long an advocate for opening borders between the United States and Cuba, believes that through cultural exchange, differences can be overcome and once again, open travel and trade can be reestablished.
Local music lover and Post feature writer, Sue Taylor was one of three producers for this event. Earlier this year Taylor produced 5 Cuban music shows at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), and in November, 2 tremendously successful Cuban music shows at Yoshi’s Oakland.
“This music truly brings all ages and stages, all races and socio-economic groups together to dance and have fun,” says Taylor who started dancing as she recovered from cancer. “If we can dance together, how can we have differences,” Taylor says.
She and her co-producers and friends Shabi Samoohi of New York, and Patricia Morgovsky of San Francisco. With the help of Walter Vela – DJ Waltdigz – in the Bay Area and David Figueroa – DJ Melao – in Miami, they are searching for their next project. No doubt the Bay Area will be a beneficiary of their efforts.
Charanga Habanera last came to the United States when older Cuban exiles might have picketed their performances. But times have changed and under President Obama, so have government policies and practices. This year saw a relaxing of rules governing how often Cubans can visit family members back home. No longer must a family wait three years between visits, unlimited visiting can take place.
A recent visit to Cuba by a Congressional delegation head by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, was encouraging to many in the performing arts who have yearned to visit Cuba to study, and to host Cuban artists here. Taylor, Samoohi, and Morgovsky second that notion and will continue to work toward full and open cultural exchange.
“We would love to see an ‘Ambassador Lee’ in the near future and full, open cultural exchange established,” says Taylor.