The Bar at Buena VistaOnce upon a time, in the 1950s, was a members’ bar in Havana, Cuba called The Buena Vista Social Club. Approximately 50 years on, the original jewels of the Bar’s crown, save for one, are celebrating their stories and bringing the Club’s iconic and now legendary Cuban music of the golden age to the rest of the world.

Of the grandfathers of Cuban music, Reynaldo Creagh deserves a special mention. Creagh was enchanting in Wim Wenders’ 1998 documentary about the Club. At 91 years of age, and live on stage, Creagh is simply extraordinary. He performed his first gig in 1938, and happily confesses that he lives for music and dance. Although his vocals are on the fragile side, Creagh does not miss an opportunity to blow a few kisses to the ‘kind ladies’ in the audience, or leave his walking stick to one side in order to bust a salsa move. Judging from the enlarged black and white photo of Creagh, among others, hanging over the nightclub set on stage, Creagh’s senses of humor and fun have not diminished. For all this, Creagh was a crowd favourite.

Among the guest musicians, including heartfelt pianist Guillermo Rubalcabal, donned with a big, showy hair piece similar to the one pictured in her black and white photo, Cuban diva, Siomara Avilla Valdes Lescay is best described as a vivacious, vocal powerhouse. And as in days gone by, former barman, Arturo Lucas provides a back bone to the performance as narrator, engaging the audience with each anecdote.

Of course, an important feature of the Club was its dance floor. Completing the line up is a handful of dancers (frontlined by the pulsating Eric Turro), delivering flirtatious doses of hip, shoulder and pelvic shaking salsa, spurred by the contagious and compelling beats of the Buena Vista band.

Needless to say, the audience did not want this Buena Vista experience to end, but rather for the Club’s stars, sights, sounds and stories to continue ever after.  

The Bar at Buena Vista

Venue: the Arts Centre, Hamer Hall
Dates: 1 - 2 May 2009
Tickets: $98.90 - $79.90

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