Music and dance are the pulsing undercurrent of Cuban life. Spanning the spectrum from traditional son to high culture, here are key venues and experiences not to miss in Havana.

A jazz musician plays saxophone in Restaurant Tocororo in Havana, Cuba.

Jazz player at Restaurant Tocororó in Miramar, Havana’s upscale residential district. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Soulful Traditions

  • The Tablao de Pancho hosts a supper show with old-time crooners belting out songs from Buena Vista Social Club.
  • For bolero head to Café Concierto Gato Tuerto, a 1950s lounge club where you expect the “Rat Pack” to stroll in any moment.
  • The Conjunto Folklórico Nacional will wow you with traditional Afro-Cuban dance to the beat of the drums.
  • Salsa is at its sizzling best at the Casa de la Música, where salsa dance lessons are also hosted.
  • No visit to Havana is complete without a visit to the Tropicana for a sexy cabaret show like no other.
A conductor leads a small group of musicians performing in an alcove of the Basilica de San Francisco de Asis in Havana.

A concert at Basílica de San Francisco de Asís. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

High Culture

Cubans astound with their fond appreciation of ballet, theater, and classical and choral music, and Havana is replete with venues.

  • The Basilica de San Francisco de Asís hosts classical and chamber ensembles most Saturday evenings. Nearby, the intimate Iglesia de San Francisco de Paula is the venue to hear choral groups.
  • The acclaimed Ballet Nacional de Cuba typically performs at the Gran Teatro de la Habana. The Teatro Nacional hosts the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Cuba. The Gran Teatro’s chic Adagio Barconcert lounge bar hosts live classical and jazz ensembles.
  • Havana boasts several jazz venues, including the snazzy Café Miramar and intimate Privé.

Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Cuba.