Hip in Havana – an insider’s guide
La Havana’s allure is authenticity: a chance to step into a world that has developed on its own trajectory, far from the glossy commercialism and cut-and-paste chain stores and restaurants of our own modern cities. But today’s Havana is so much more than the celebrated trio of cigars, vintage cars and son music that has attracted tourists for decades. Opening up to the world, Cuba’s on the cusp of globalisation and this city is energised by a new generation who combine a strong sense of identity with being switched on to street fashion, hip hop culture and social media. Now that’s what we call Havana!
At Havana Club we are privileged to call Cuba’s capital our home – and we want to share it! Not as tourist guides, but as we would a friend visiting for the first time. So when the daily style website Highsnobiety asked us to show them our city and facilitate a shoot combining fashion and Habaneros/as, we leapt at the chance to take them – and you – off the beaten track and into Havana’s subcultures.
First, drop your bags and let’s mix a Mojito. And then, we’ll lead you through narrow streets to the real centre of the action, to meet the people we know…
… People like Yojany, a diehard skateboarder who reveals how the Cuban DIY spirit has kept the skate scene alive; or Leo, who runs Havana’s only body art shop. Fancy a round with Olympic boxing medalist Emilio Correa? Then come with us to the open-air boxing gym where amateur boxers train alongside champs. Reggaeton artists Popy and La Moda open the doors to an underground club for this thriving but officially banned musical form, we catch up with feisty female rappers La Reyna y La Real on the Malécon, and go on a bar crawl far from the tourist traps with a student friend, Francisco. Our local heroes also show us the quirky side of Cuba – where to get a crazy haircut called "El Yonki", why Ladas are far cooler than vintage Cadillacs, and the lengths people will go to for free Wi-Fi.
First meet our Havana locals, your guides, through a mood film and portraits shot by celebrated New York fashion photographer Adrian Mesko. Then read on as, in a series of articles, each of them unlocks the vibe of the raw, inventive, evolving Cuba of today.