Salsa may be the first thing you think of when contemplating Cuba by night, but it is only one of the many rhythms that flow through the nation’s bloodstream. The island sizzles with cabarets, raves and everything in between.
t Colour and cabaret at the open-air Tropicana
Flamboyant, fantastical and fun, retro-themed cabarets are as quintessentially Cuban as cigars and rum. Every city has at least one glitzy cabaret espectáculo, but the largest and most flamboyant is Havana’s open-air Tropicana, which first opened on New Year’s Eve in 1939. With swirling showgirls in sensational costumes, gravity-defying acrobats and talented crooners, they are a riot for the senses.
There’s no shortage of opportunities to hear live music in Cuba. The country, which famously banned The Beatles in the 1960s and 70s, even hosted the Rolling Stones in Havana in 2016. Every town has a Casa de la Trova for traditional son, but Santiago de Cuba’s is the stand-out venue on the island. The best selection of music and dance can be found in the capital, however, with Havana’s night scene buzzing with cutting-edge sounds at venues like Jazz Café (Galerías de Paseo, Calle 1 y Paseo; 7838 3302).
Havana’s dance-crazy club scene spans a spectrum of sounds from rap to salsa. Many venues are no-frills affairs, such as Havana’s Casa de la Música, but they come to life with sizzling music. Go to Fábrica de Arte for a hedonistic night out or dance the night away underground at “Disco Las Cuevas” in Trinidad’s Disco Áyala (Calle Pólvora).
Cuba After Dark
A disco bar in Havana, with drag shows (Jovellar No. 3 e/ Oquendo y Marina).
Vibrant twice-weekly parties are held on Havana’s La Rampa (Avenida 23 y Avenida Paseo).
Cabaret Las Vegas
This Havana dive bar is popular for its kitschy drag shows (Infanta 104, e/ Calles 25 y 27).