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DIALOGUE WITH JUAN CRUZ
PAST PRESIDENT
‘MARIANAO CLUB SOCIAL’ - LA HAVANA

MASTER OF CEREMONIES AT THE
‘SALON ROSADO BENY MORE’ NIGHTCLUB - LA HAVANA

BY EUGENE GODFRIED


It’s a pleasure for us to share our microphone with a great friend. And also a friend of Cuban popular music, an activist for the promotion of the best of Cuban music, the Son, Juan Cruz, who is the master of ceremonies at the Salon Rosado Beny More, located at the 41st and 42nd Avenue, in the municipality of Playa.

JUAN CRUZ

In effect, Eugene, I am from San Cristobal of the Province Pinar del Rio. In the year 1939 I came to Havana. I became a member of the Marianao Social Club in the year 1954. I became the President and Secretary of that society , and even its Treasurer. That society was a real school to me. In that society we were very closely related with all of the societies which existed here in Havana, among them the Buena Vista Social Club, located then in Calle 41 between 46 and 48. We of the Marianao Social Club maintained a very fluid social exchange with them. Moreover we all joined in various championships, such as domino, volleyball and baseball. But, besides the Buena Vista Social Club, we were very well linked with the societies of our class [race] here in Havana, the societies of the black race. 

Among those, the Isora Cluba, at Velones 750, Jovenes del Bar at 10 de Octubre and Correa, the Club Las Aguilas, at Luz 56 La Vibora, Club Oceanico, Paseo and Mar, Redención Expoclub at Pasaje Cañizares in Pogolotti, and all the societies here in Havana. 

That enabled me to penetrate very much into the popular music of my country, the Son, which is my delirium. The Son is my delirium. That’s why I admire the big Conjunto of Arsenio Rodriguez, “el Ciego Maravilloso,” one of the biggest figures that the popular music of my country has given us. To him belongs the song “Buena Vista en Guaguanco”.

Buena Vista has gotten two songs dedicated to it. One by composer Orestes Lopez, entitled, “Social Club de Buena Vista”, and the one by Arsenio Rodriguez, which is “Buena Vista en Guaguanco”.

As an autodidact Master of Ceremonies of popular music, I had the privilege that few people had, to present the most important musical talents of my country from the year 1940 up to present date, because I am still active, as you know. 

EUGENE GODFRIED

Yes, of course.

JUAN CRUZ

I worked with Arsenio Rodriguez, El Barbaro del Ritmo, Beny More, to whom on my insistence the nightclub where I work, Salon Rosado, is paying homage. It is called now, ‘SALON ROSADO BENY MORE’. That occurred on the same day, August 24 of the year 1992, when Studio # 1 of Radio Progreso was also named after Beny More. So, that means to say that Studio # 1 of Radio Progreso bears the name of that unforgettable talent El Barbaro del Ritmo, and Salon Rosado also bears his name on my insistence.

EUGENE GODFRIED

Juan, speaking about the Marianao Social Club, where was that society located? In what part of Marianao?

JUAN CRUZtop

Look, the Buena Vista Social Club was located at Calle 41, between 46 and 48. The building is still there. Inclusively one could still find the predecessors of Fulgencio Travieso, who was the Secretary of that society, my great friend, Julio Dueña, who was almost the President for life of that society, Enrique Curbelo, Periquito. I used to maintain good relationships with all those people. I used to like to go and dance at the Buena Vista Social Club, especially with that lovely Son by Arsenio Rodriguez, “Buena Vista en Guaguanco”.

EUGENE GODFRIED

(singing a line of “Buena Vista en Guaguanco”)

‘Guagua, guagua, guaguanco Buena Vista se botó….’

Interpreted then with the firm falsetto voice of Rene Scull.

JUAN CRUZ

(laughing)

Rene Scull and also Miguelito Cuni. Miguelito Cuni used to improvise a lot in that song.

EUGENE GODFRIED

Perfectly, that was the Buena Vista Social Club. Are there some of those personalities that you mentioned who are still alive?

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, Enrique Curbelo is still alive and Periquito too. They are the survivors of the Buena Vista Social Club. 

EUGENE GODFRIED

They always remained in Buena Vista?

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, that is right.

EUGENE GODFRIED

And you told me that the Marianao Social Club was located where?

JUAN CRUZ

That one was located at Calle 57, between 134 and 136, in the quarter Positos of Marianao. 

Marianao Social Club was a very progressive society, because it was a society which was really doing social life. It had academies of English language, sewing, and tailoring. It had table tennis and volleyball, with its volleyball team.

EUGENE GODFRIED

Dominoes?

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, dominoes too. We used to do tournaments between all the societies of Havana.

EUGENE GODFRIED

Culinary classes?

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, of course, we had a school of domestic skills. Marianao Social Club did have a school of domestic skills. Marianao Social Club itself was a big school in the whole of the Province of Havana. 

EUGENE GODFRIED

We can say the same of Buena Vista Social Club, and others like….

JUAN CRUZ

Jovenes del Bar, of 10 de Octubre and Correa, Club de las Aguilas, at Luz 56...

EUGENE GODFRIEDtop

Was that one located in the quarter of Luyano?

JUAN CRUZ

In Luyano? Club Isora was in Luyano. Club de las Aguilas, was of La Vibora. Redención Expoclub was in Pogolotti, Marianao. But, Jovenes del Bar was also located at Luyano in 10 de Octubre and Correa.

EUGENE GODFRIED

Cuba in that epoch was a country which had a society we could say was segregated. There were social clubs for whites, mulattos, and blacks. What could you tell us about that?

JUAN CRUZ

That is right. Indeed, there were then social clubs for whites and social clubs for blacks here in Havana. Over there in Oriente you had societies for mulattos and others for blacks, that was when the classes [races, this usage goes back to Antonio Maceo] were completely divided. 

EUGENE GODFRIED

Which were those that existed in Santiago de Cuba, if you can remember?

JUAN CRUZ

Club Aponte and others? There were others, but I don’t remember right away.

EUGENE GODFRIED

No problem, let us return to Havana. Let us continue to talk about the affairs of the capital city.

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, yes, yes.

EUGENE GODFRIED

So, we were talking about all those societies, which were societies of the black race.

JUAN CRUZ

They were societies of the blacks. They were societies of class. But, there was a lot of respect. A lot of respect and a lot of elegance, because you could not enter a society just like that. For example in my club, Marianao Social Club, you had to enter with coat and tie, you could not enter in any other form. 

EUGENE GODFRIED

You mean to say to the parties?

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, to the parties and the women had come in elegantly dressed. There was a lot of composure, elegance and respect. Because the young women who visited my society, if they did not come with their mother, they would come with a friend of the mother. That friend of the mother was worse than the mother, because she took more care of her than the mother herself. So, there was plenty of respect. Inclusively, most of us who were members there, got married there and formed our family. We formed all of our family there, there was order and there was discipline, and that is undeniable.

EUGENE GODFRIED

A club like “UNION FRATERNAL”, was it of the same category as the Marianao Social Club, or the Buena Vista Social Club?

JUAN CRUZ

Well, they were similar. I used to visit Union Fraternal a lot at Calle Mision and Revillagigedo.

EUGENE GODFRIED

Revillagigedo, that is in the quarter known as Jesus Maria, right?


JUAN CRUZ

Yes, yes, I used to have big friendly relations with the Board of that society. 

The only club that thought that they were superior to the rest was Club Atenas, whose members were doctors, engineers, etc.

EUGENE GODFRIEDtop

Where were they located?

JUAN CRUZ

They were located at Calle Zulueta, close to the fire brigade. That’s where that society was.

EUGENE GODFRIED

That’s almost on the borderline between the quarters Jesus Maria and Belen.

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, you are right that is where it was, more or less.

As I told you, they thought that they were superior to the rest. But, I am telling you that if they really thought that they were superior to us, then they should have helped us. They did not help us.


EUGENE GODFRIED

Were they blacks? 

JUAN CRUZ

They were blacks just like us. And they did not do what my society did. All those doctors and engineers that they were, still they did not do the same social work that Marianao Social Club used to do. Because, I just told you, Eugene, that Marianao Social Club had a school for domestic skills to teach the girls how to cook, service, sew, and tailor. We had volleyball and table tennis teams, both men and women. Marianao Social Club had all of that, and every year we made a trip visiting the societies in the interior of the country. Those were fraternal trips in order to come closer to those societies. And that was the work that they should have done, those people who formed the Club Atenas. 

EUGENE GODFRIED

Exactly, I can imagine that the societies of Marianao, Buena Vista and others, also devoted some time to talk about the political situation in Cuba, right?

JUAN CRUZ

Well, politics during all the times had its influence in everything, there’s no doubt about that. 

But, Eugene, I want to open up a bracket, to speak to you about the following, that I as an autodidact master of ceremonies, I never went to any school to learn anything of that, but yet I was privileged for having presented the most important talents of my country. Beginning with Arsenio Rodriguez, ‘El Ciego Maravilloso’, who receives lots of respect from so many Latin American and Caribbean musicians. But, I also worked with Arcaño, Orquesta Melodias del 40, Conjunto Astros of Rene Alvarez, La Orquesta Ideal of Joseito Valdes, Conjunto Roberto Faz, and the Conjunto Rumbavana, 

EUGENE GODFRIED

Abelardo Barroso?

JUAN CRUZ

Abelardo Barroso, my friend. He was a freemason of the society Luz from Marianao, of which I am an honorary member. Abelardo Barroso, my friend, one of the most outstanding singers that we had here. I had the opportunity to present the great Orquesta Sensacion directed by Orlando Valdes, which was a great band. Abelardo Barroso was a singer with that orquestra. Independently of that, Abelardo Barroso had an infinite number of musical groups. He was with an orquestra named Lopez Barroso of Orestes Lopez and Abelardo Barroso. The Orquesta Union also of Orestes Lopez. 

Now at a later date, I had the opportunity to also work with the band Irakere, to which I put the nickname: “Los anormales de la musica”. The abnormals of the music. NG la Banda, which I called “Los diabolicos del pentagrama”. Las Maravillas de Florida, which I called “Los ciclones de Camaguey”. So I tried to put a nickname to many of the groups which they liked a lot. Inclusively, there are still groups coming to ask me to find a pseudonym for them. 

EUGENE GODFRIED

You worked with Arsenio Rodriguez, you knew him personally. What can you tell us about that personality when he was here in Cuba?

JUAN CRUZtop

No, no, no, I am telling you, he was a very disciplined man. Arsenio Rodriguez’ group was the best dressed group, just like Orquesta Sensacion. Those were the groups that excelled in dressing. Arsenio’s group was correctly dressed, and the musicians had to be very disciplined. By the time he was going to begin an activity, his musicians had to be present there. They had to be there, otherwise the punishment would be severe. It’s something extraordinary speaking about Arsenio Rodriguez, just like Beny More. Beny More is the greatest gift to music in our country. Hundreds of years will pass without somebody appearing who could replace “El Barbaro del ritmo”. And I had the honor and the opportunity that it was with me that he did most of his performances here in Havana. That is why precisely, Salon Rosado bears the name Salon Rosado Beny More. That came into effect on my insistence and the same day Studio 1 of Radio Progreso also adopted the name of Beny More on August 24 of the year 1992. 

EUGENE GODFRIED

Well, when Arsenio Rodriguez left for the United States in the year…..


JUAN CRUZ

The year 1950, that was when he left for the United States. One part of the group went over to the Conjunto Modelo. Lili Martinez went with Chappottin.

<== Luis Martínez Griñan

EUGENE GODFRIED

He was the pianist, composer, and arranger from Guantanamo.

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, yes, I gave him the title of ‘THE ARCHITECT OF SON’. Lili Martinez, he was an extraordinary talent. As far as piano work is concerned I do not know any example like him. My friend Ruben Gonzalez is immense, but Lili Martinez, well of course those are two different genres.

EUGENE GODFRIED

Who started first with Arsenio’s band, Lili Martinez or Ruben Gonzalez?

JUAN CRUZ

Lili Martinez one can say was the founder of Arsenio’s band, although Ruben Gonzalez also worked with him. 

EUGENE GODFRIED

Before or after Lili Martinez?

JUAN CRUZ

Before Lili Martinez, I think.

EUGENE GODFRIED

When Lili got in, he put his stamp on the band forever.

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, yes, yes, that was something immense.


EUGENE GODFRIED

Who were the ones who joined Conjunto Modelo?

JUAN CRUZ

When Arsenio left to the United States the musicians who went to Conjunto Modelo were Lazaro Prieto, Arsenio’s bass player, Felix Alfonso, “Chocolate,” the conga player, Papa Kila, who was an extraordinary bongo player, and many more…

EUGENE GODFRIED

Miguelito Cuni?

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, indeed, Miguelito Cuni and also Conrado Cepero.top

But, since Conjunto Modelo had a transitional life, notwithstanding the fact that it was a very good group, still the musicians were going through difficult times. The musicians started to go to the Conjunto of Chappotttin and that was how Chappottin’s Conjunto got strengthened. Because, almost all the musicians of ‘Conjunto Modelo’ went over to Conjunto Chappottin.              Felix Chappottin ==>

EUGENE GODFRIED

So, who were the musicians with whom Chappottin started then? Lili Martinez, and who else? Rene Alvarez, perhaps?

JUAN CRUZ

Liviano, Conrado Cepero also went to Chappottin and bit by bit others went until Conjunto Modelo disintegrated, regardless of how good they were.

EUGENE GODFRIED

Were there differences between your social club and some of the important son groups?

We had differences with ’Los Tres Grandes’, The Three Major Bands, Arcaño, Chappottin, and Melodias del 40. Not with Arsenio, because Arsenio already left in 1950. But with Arcaño, we had differences, because Arcaño gave three dates to our Marianao Social Club from 1954 to 1955. The first activity was held, which was a tremendous economic and social success, but he took away the two remaining dates and gave them to the ‘Club Artistico Cultural’.

EUGENE GODFRIED

Who were they?

JUAN CRUZ

They were in El Cerro, at Calzada del Cerro, and Hechevarria. 

EUGENE GODFRIED

They were called Club…

JUAN CRUZ

Club Artistico Cultural

EUGENE GODFRIED

It was also a social club of blacks?


<== Antonio Arcaño

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, of blacks, society of blacks. 

So, Arcaño took those dates away from us and gave them to Club Artistico Cultural. The Board of Marianao Social Club had some grievances with Arcaño and the President of our society had to call up a meeting to explain what Arcaño did, that he took away the two dates from us. I then proposed that I had a solution for the social club’s music. I proposed to bring Aragon to Havana.

EUGENE GODFRIED

From Cienfuegos.

JUAN CRUZ

From Cienfuegos to Havana. Some of the members of the Board did not agree, but the President of the Society, Manuel Antonio Forniaz, did agree with my proposal. It was decided that I should leave that same night to Cienfuegos in order to go and find Orquesta Aragon. 

When I reached Cienfuegos I met Jose Beltran, the bass player of Orquesta Aragon, playing dominoes at Prado and San Carlos. I told him of my interest in wanting to see the orquestra. He took me then to San Carlos and San Luis up at the Terry Theatre where Rafael Lay was teaching violin to some children at that moment. 

He was very glad when I expressed to him my interest and he sent me with Beltran to the house of Orestes Varona. Orestes Varona just woke up and he was dressing himself to go to Santa Clara. Because, he was going to look for a flute player, and that flute player was Richard Egües, since Rolando Lozano had left to go abroad with ‘Orquesta America’. 

EUGENE GODFRIED

With Jorrin?

JUAN CRUZ

No, with the Orquesta led by Rinun Mondeja. When ‘Orquesta America’ went abroad, Jorrin was not with the orquestra anymore.


EUGENE GODFRIEDtop

That’s alright. Coming back to Havana now. Aragon?

JUAN CRUZ

They came to Havana, and I brought them to Radio Progreso.

EUGENE GODFRIED

When we say The three Major Bands, then we are talking about Arcaño, Arsenio, no, no, Chappottin y sus Estrellas, and Melodias del 40.

JUAN CRUZ

No, at first it was Aracaño, Arsenio and Melodias del 40. But, as Arsenio left in 1950, Chappottin filled up his space among the three Major bands. 

EUGENE GODFRIED

Did one also speak of the Three Minor Bands?

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, that was our idea when Arcaño took away those dates from us, then we formed the Three Minor Bands. They were La Orquesta Union of Orestes Lopez with the flute player Mongo Peñalver, a good flute player who commited suicide, Conjunto Astros of Rene Alvarez, and the great Orquestra of Ideal of Joseito Valdes. A magnificent orquestra with a tremendous flute player, Joseito Valdes himself, who is still alive over there in Guanabacoa.

EUGENE GODFRIED

How fine, we can see that Cuban music was very strong in the 40’s and 50’s. That is the period we are talking about right? A lot and a lot of strength, right? And how could we explain that?

JUAN CRUZ

Well, there were many very good musical bands. I want you to know that, Eugene, there were many very good musicians who had no formal training in music. They could not read music, but were very good musicians. We have the example of Sabino Peñalver, the bass player of…..

EUGENE GODFRIED

Chappottin,

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, Chappottin, he was really marvelous. That man could not read music, but he was almost the man who led the group. He marked the beats, Sabino Peñalver, just like Chappottin, they were real glories. Felix Chappottin was one of the best trumpet players that we had in this country, he could make the trumpet laugh like no one else could. And as a person he was a great person. And the group now is carrying high the honor in memory of Felix Chappottin. His son Angel and his grandson El Niño.

EUGENE GODFRIED

‘Los Mulos de Chappottin’. ‘The Mules of Chappottin’

JUAN CRUZ

‘Los Mulos de Chappottin’, that name was also given to them by me, because of the side kicks that they give when they play…..

That is one of the groups that are the best in interpreting our Son. And that group would be a real big success if they could travel to Latin America, I don’t know why they don’t see to it that that group could travel as they ought to.

EUGENE GODFRIED

And if you knew how well that group is accepted in the world. It is big, extraordinarily big. We are getting now close to talk about the transformations which took place at a certain historical point. Because, we knew then a stage of glory for Cuban music, it was extraordinary and with no comparison. Everybody talks about that with me everywhere I go. In the Caribbean, Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, anywhere in the United States,
England, Holland. In all those countries, people talk to me about all those major personalities of Cuban music. 

JUAN CRUZtop

I had the opportunity, I was good friends with Lorenzo and Reinaldo Hierrezuelo, Reinaldo Hierrezuelo is still there. And, they told me that in the places where they traveled to, they heard only the music of Chappottin. All those big musicians that are travelling now are saying that it is the music of Chappottin that people are listening to.

EUGENE GODFRIED

I was surprised when I visited Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. recently. During a musical presentation, the students of a conservatory took out of their repertoir and played a powerful piece composed by Lili Martinez of Conjunto Chappottin, “Que se Fuñan” (laughter).

JUAN CRUZ

“Que se Fuñan,” a composition by Lili Martinez, a tremendous composer and pianist. On piano we really have monuments here in Cuba. That Ruben Gonzalez is a real glory!

EUGENE GODFRIED

Speaking now of the societies, which we have talked about -- mentioning all the beautiful names they had. I know Arsenio Rodriguez dedicated a song to almost all the quarters of Havana.

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, to all the quarters of Havana. Arsenio was a very original man, because one of the groups that attracted most dancers to the clubs was the Conjunto of Arsenio Rodriguez.

EUGENE GODFRIED

Can we say that Chappottin was a follow up of the work of Arsenio Rodriguez?

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, we can say that. Moreover, Chappottin formed part of his group for a long time. That band was called Arsenio Rodriguez and his All Stars. It was integrated really by stars. Florecita on trumpet, an extraordinary trumpet player, Papa Kila on bongos, that was marvelous, Alberto Alvile on congas, but before Alberto Avile was Campeon. 

EUGENE GODFRIED

Campeon was a conga player with Conjunto Chappottin?

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, with Chappottin. 

EUGENE GODFRIED

And the extraordinary voice of Rene Scull.

JUAN CRUZ

Ramirez, 

EUGENE GODFRIED

Rene Alvarez

JUAN CRUZ

Indeed, Rene Alvarez also integrated the group of Arsenio Rodriguez. 

EUGENE GODFRIED

And I must say also of Chappottin for some time.

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, and also of Chappottin for some time.

EUGENE GODFRIED

Fine, there was moment of transformation in which the societies stopped existing.

JUAN CRUZtop

In the year 1962 they were shut down and they disappeared.

EUGENE GODFRIED

What happened as a matter of fact?

JUAN CRUZ

Well, as everything was shut down, the societies of classes [races] were shut down to form other types of societies to which all of us should belong, that was how the societies were shut down.

Of course, to my understanding our societies could have continued to exist in an integrated form. Because, there was respect in them, the members and the youth got educated, and were instructed in their behavior. And, as I just told you a while ago, almost all of us who were affiliated with those societies got married there and raised our families. And that was really a big achievement. A real achievement for those societies. 

That is why I am telling you that the societies could have continued to exist, but integrated. Integrated, so that they could continue to instruct their affiliates how to behave themselves etc.

EUGENE GODFRIED

That was in 1962.

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, that was in 1962, I believe.

EUGENE GODFRIED

By means of a decree which stipulated that the societies could not continue to exist and that one had to incorporate oneself in …..

JUAN CRUZ

To the ‘Circulo Sociales Obreros’, ‘Workers’ Social Clubs’, yes.

EUGENE GODFRIED

It seems to me that with the disappearance of the Social Clubs, the Son was also affected.

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, the Son was affected, because we could say that all the societies of color, the blacks, were dancers of Son.

EUGENE GODFRIED

But, I think that up to a certain extent the societies of the descendants of Europeans in Cuba participated in the Son. Take for example the Conjunto of Roberto Faz.

JUAN CRUZ

Roberto Faz, Conjunto Casino of Roberto Espi, my friend.

EUGENE GODFRIEDtop

He was my friend too, it is a pity that he is no longer with us. But, he will continue to be alive with us, for he was a brilliant Sonero. I had to opportunity to visit him on his birthday a couple of months before he left us.

JUAN CRUZ

Many Soneros have disappeared now, look at the sad case of Raul Planas. ‘El Señor del Son’. The Pentagram has lost many talents. 

I don’t know why now there are no real key Son singers appearing. There are very few, very few.

While at this moment the Son is very highly present in the world, the Son is occupying a higher place than many other cultural manifestations. The Son is highly appreciated. Up to a certain point it was restricted, but it could not be held back any longer for it went above everything. 

EUGENE GODFRIED

Was it a mistake to have held back the Son?

JUAN CRUZ

It was a mistake to block it. The Son was held back.

I wanted to tell you something about Orquesta Aragon. When Aragon came to Havana, when I brought them to Havana, the orquestra was blockaded. Inclusively, the Musicians Union of Havana …

EUGENE GODFRIED

That was in what year?

JUAN CRUZ

That was in 1955, and the Musicians Union of Havana did not want to allow them to work, because they said that the orquestra was an Invaders band. 

What did I do then? I wanted to take them to the Musicians Union of Marianao, which was led by Rafael Palau, Director of the great band Hermanos Palau. An orquestra one doesn’t speak much of but which has a very important record in the history of Cuban music.

I threatened to take Aragon to Marianao, but they heard of it and resolved to allow Aragon to get the necessary work permissions. Because otherwise that would have had economic consequences for them, that they could not recover anywhere else. That was how they inscribed Orquesta Aragon, because I threatened to take Aragon to the Musicians Union of Marianao.

EUGENE GODFRIED

Clearly, they were Cubans just like those of Havana.

JUAN CRUZ

On that occasion there were people who sided up with Orquesta Aragon, because they originated from the same region. Among them was Beny More. When Beny saw that the Orquestra was blockaded, he chose the side of the orquestra.

Lay and Orested Varona brought over the group ‘Sorpresas de Guantanamo’, because they wanted to ally themselves with another group here. So, I brought ‘Sorpresas de Guantanamo’ to ally themselves to Orquesta Aragon. The group was very good. But, I don’t know what happened, they returned to Guantanamo. It seems that they loved their land a lot. Some of them stayed here, like Charron. So, I brought Sopresas de Guantanamo to ally themselves with Aragon to fight against the blockade, which existed then.

EUGENE GODFRIEDtop

Now, there existed since those days and up until present day, the ‘Salon Rosado’. You are still active at the ‘Salon Rosado Beny More’, located at Avenida 41 and 44, municipality of Playa right here in Havana city. It means to say that Salon Rosado exists for a very long time, just like ‘Jardin Polar’, and, well, tell us more…

JUAN CRUZ

Salon Rosado Beny More was known before, from 1954, ‘Salones del Estadio de la Tropical’, which were inaugurated in that year 1954. The person who inaugurated them was a businessman, a friend of mine, José Manuel Casamichana, who lived in my neighborhood of Cocosolo. He inaugurated them with the Orquestra Melodias del 40 led by Don Regino Frontela Fraga. 

Do you know what motivated the creation of the ‘Estadio de los Jardines de la Tropical’? Because, here we used to know ‘Los Jardines de la Tropical’, which in the 1940’s were the regional centers of Spaniards that existed here in Havana then.


EUGENE GODFRIED

Where were ‘Los Jardines de la Tropical’ located?

JUAN CRUZ

Near Puentes Grandes, and the ‘Jardines de la Tropical’ were some of the most beautiful gardens we used to have in Cuba. One of the most beautiful ones! And, the most beautiful parties were held there. But, what happened was that the Sociedades de Color did not have their activities there, but they approached Julio Blanco Herrera and from the year 1940, Julio Blanco Herrera permitted the Sociedades de Color to hold their parties in those gardens. Because the national holidays, which the Spaniards did not celebrate, such as, May 20, October 10, February 24, those days were free and we of the Sociedades de Color took those days over.

The entrance to the Jardines de la Tropical by the people belonging to the Sociedades de Color became such a big triumph, that a new place had to be constructed which were then the ‘Salones del Estadio de la Tropical.’ Because, the sale of beer, malta, etc., went up in such a scandalous way, and they were looking for their profits.

EUGENE GODFRIED

Their money and their profits.

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, their money and their profits, and that’s why they constructed then the ‘Salones del Estadio de la Tropical’.

EUGENE GODFRIED

So, there were two concepts then, firstly, one center for the Spaniards and their descendents, and another one known now as the Salon Rosado, for the Sociedades de Color?

JUAN CRUZtop

Yes, but also business people held their activities then. And, my society ‘Marianao Social Club’ also held its activities in there. 

EUGENE GODFRIED

You also had another one named the ‘Jardines de la Polar’.

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, there was also the ‘Jardines de la Polar,’ which was in opposite direction of the ‘Jardines de la Tropical’.

EUGENE GODFRIED

What were the characteristics of the ‘Jardines de la Polar’?

JUAN CRUZ

It had some similar characteristics to the ‘Jardines de la Tropical’. But at the ‘Jardines de la Polar’ they used to hold parties at night, while at the Jardines de la Tropical they used to organize parties only until 6 o’clock in the evening. But, very elegant and beautiful parties, and they used to have parties dedicated to the ‘barrios’, the quarters. For instance, to ‘Cayo Hueso le Tocó’, ‘El Cerro tiene la llave’. Every Monday they used to have what was called ‘el giro de los zapateros’, the journey of the shoemakers’. They had a series of very beautiful ‘merenderos’ activities, such as, ‘el merendero del ajiaco’. All that used to take place on Mondays.

EUGENE GODFRIED

(laughter)

‘Los Sitios Asere’ 

JUAN CRUZ

(laughter)

‘Los Sitios Acere’, my friend Cipriano, his niece is married to Manolito Simmonet of the Trabucos. Another very important musical group.

EUGENE GODFRIEDtop

Yes, they originated from ‘Las Maravillas de Florida’ from Camagüey. 

JUAN CRUZ

Yes, Manolito Simmonet used to be the director of Las Maravillas de Florida.

EUGENE GODFRIED

And that enabled him to collect an enormous amount of experience, because good music is made over there in Florida, Camagüey. 

Well, we have to close our dialogue with you Maestro Juan Cruz, and what will be your message to our friends regarding Cuban music, at present and in the future?

JUAN CRUZ

We are in a very important moment with the Cuban popular music and we have to continue to work with it. We have already achieved the gains.

EUGENE GODFRIED

And that the steps of Arsenio Rodriguez continue to be followed, as well as the steps of…..

JUAN CRUZ

Chappottin, 

EUGENE GODFRIED

Miguelito Cuní, Beny More,

JUAN CRUZ

‘El Barbaro del Ritmo’

EUGENE GODFRIED

Thank you very much, Maestro Juan Cruz and I wish you a lot of success in your work at the Salon Rosado Beny More, located at the corner of Avenida 41 and 44, here in the capital city of Havana.

JUAN CRUZ

Thank you Eugene.



Arsenio Rodriguez y su Conjunto

THE END

topLinks

Arsenio Rodriguez

Felix Chappottin

ALTO SONGO - Son in popular culture and history: resistance and liberation by Eugène Godfried - features Luis "Lili" Martinez Griñan

La Protesta de Baragua by Eugène Godfried - also features Luis "Lili" Martinez Griñan

Buena Vista Social Club: Critics, self-criticism, and the survival of Cuban Son, by Eugène Godfried 11/00

 

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