To celebrate the soft opening of our new cultural destination and 11-room boutique hotel in the birthplace of Cuban rumba, we hosted a multigenerational community block party with music at the heart of the function. Here's how the day went.
ART & FILM EXHIBITION BY ARTIST JUAN CARLOS ALOM
The event inaugurated the first art exhibition inside The Black Box located on the first floor of our 5-story 1930’s fully restored building. The “gallery” is named The Black Box for its multifunctional, versatile format and vision to host everything from exhibitions, performances, Jazz and live music, workshops, and much more. Expectant, curious kids and their families were the first to enter The Black Box and see black and white photographs by Cuban artist Juan Carlos Alom (1964). The solo show titled ‘Cayo Hueso’ documents the three year restoration of the building itself, the neighborhood’s rich music legacy, and the Cuban people who live it daily. Alom’s experimental 16mm short-film also titled ‘Cayo Hueso’ loops every 12 minutes in a vertical diptych format at the center of the gallery. The film features an original composition of Afro-Cuban Jazz, a style that was born in this neighborhood when Chano Pozo migrated North, played percussion for Dizzy Gillespi, and brought the style back home to Cuba. The intentional use of 20 year old 16 mm film, battered and in decay, tells the story of a building that was battered and in decay.
‘Cayo Hueso’ will be on exhibition at The Black Box inside Tribe Caribe Cayo Hueso through Spring 2023. Schedule a private visit rsvp@tribecaribecayohueso and continue to check in here for upcoming activities in dialogue with the work.
BLOCK PARTY LINEUP
Around 4pm a slew of activities took shape: face painting for kids, gallery tours, live interactive painting by San Alejandro Art School students, a market style pop-up where local entrepreneurs like Ama Habana, Clandestina, and others set up to sell goods. The Block Party music lineup was extraordinary. It included a set by multi-format guest DJ Belinda Becker (Jamaica). Becker’s intention for the set was to vibe with the crowd, introduce them to her Jamaican roots, and find commonality in shared Caribbean roots. At the end of her first set she played ‘Tanzania’ a South African afro beat that conjured an improvised performance by Afro-Cuban dancers. Their movements symbolized an offering to five Orishas of Afro-Cuban religion, an important cultural connection Becker shares with the Cayo Hueso community — “there are no wasted movements in dance.” Becker’s set was followed by a group of young percussion performers ages 6-12, a street performance by students from Escuela Nacional de Circo. Local Cuban DJ Landeep, started performing just in time for a light rain to temporarily disperse the party. When Landeep took the stage again, he graciously invited Belinda Becker to close as a duo. After sunset, local percussion icon Osain del Monte (Cuba) took the stage. They are more like a family, with 10 members including father and son batá drummers, santeria dancers, vocalists who inspire with uplifting chants like ‘dale, dale, ahora es cuando es.’ No Cuban crowd can resist chanting along and moving to the rhythms and traditional that Osain carry on from their Yoruba origins.
To say the least, it was an unforgettable day. The timely photography and short-film by Alom; the restored building come to life again; the fusion of local and Caribbean music shared and felt by a multigenerational crowd; the day played on a sense of nowness and pastime. This community block party is the foundation of how we will go forward — regenerating the community and preserving its intrinsic heritage by unifying the voice of the Caribbean & Latin America. Sign up for our Tribe Caribe newsletter to receive invitations to our January 2023 program.