I went to JazzSi, the music club of Taller de la Musica in Barcelona, last night for Descarga Cubana (Cuban Download/Discharge). I was pretty excited to have found this little club (that’s known to thousands of people) with live music every night – Flamenco, Blues, Rock, Salsa, Jazz – just a short walk from home. Free or low admission. St. Moritz beer for €2.50. Friendly staff and bartenders and great music.
I arrived just on time – 20.30h (early for Barcelona) and found just a handful of people there, not surprising since almost everyone comes late. When I went to JazzSi for Jazz last week, it was empty when the music started. I was a little self conscious then as one of 5 audience members. But within a few minutes the small space was packed. And the music was wonderful.
So last night I hurried down to Calle Requesens to be on time for the Descarga. I grabbed one of the few chairs surrounding the small dance floor, with a perfect view of the stage. The guys started playing, a variety of Cuban styles. Outstanding! So cool with some Cuban friends of the band and a few Latinos and Spaniards grooving to the high quality sounds. There was one guy, a traveler of sorts with his small back pack still in place, who installed himself right next to me and was lost in his nonstop, somewhat eccentric moves. But he was OK.
“Man, I am going to enjoy this evening”, I thought – seconds before a group of about 30 young US students started filing in with their tour guide leader, complete with back packs and shoulder bags. Now, the space of JazzSi is limited. When you put a bunch of people standing like sticks on the dance floor right in front of you it changes the view and the experience. Whoa, from authentic to tourist venue in three minutes. I’m barely in charge of any of my emotions and the irritation, disappointment, and resentment that surged into my consciousness weren’t negotiating with my more rational self. “Why don’t they go look at something Gaudi or find some nice Flamenco on the Ramblas? Eat some tapas.” I silently fumed.
But then I noticed that the band and their Cuban friends didn’t seem to mind at all. Some of the kids were trying to move, at least while they weren’t documenting their cross-cultural experience by adding to their iPhone foto albums. One of the Cuban guys, a huge, charismatic man who had been joking with me earlier about a couple of the songs, started pulling the girls onto the dance floor (as Cubans do – not to over generalize), insisting they knew how to dance and just needed to do it. The band was eating it up, heating up. Someone’s girlfriend (who had no trouble at all moving) got everyone into lines for cha-cha. A few dancers were claiming small ovals for some salsa moves.
By this time I had abandoned my persona of listener, given up my choice seat, grabbed a second St. Mortiz, and joined the packed dance floor. Clave vs. irritation: my negativity had no chance. All was well again.
How to have a good time: listen to the music, appreciate the moment.
Tonight is Flamenco. I’m looking forward to it.