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WWB Weekend: Before Eurovision, Havana Bolero

By Susan Harris

As the Eurovision song competition reaches for its final high note, we’re crooning along with Leonardo Padura’s humid “Nine Nights with Amada Luna,” from our July 2008 Revolutions issue. In the Havana of 1967, a country boy—“innocent, Catholic, revolutionary”—comes to the city for college and enrolls in a crash course in obsession instead. Lured by a poster of “The Sorrowful Lady of the Bolero” performing nightly at the aptly-named Grotto, the narrator descends the steps to an underworld of desire. Ensorcelled by the enigmatic Amada Luna and her seductive repertoire, he skips class to pursue a sentimental education. On the cusp of manhood, he ignores the signs that the country itself is on the brink of dramatic change; the breathtaking fulfillment of his carnal dreams, and the fleeting transformation of fantasy into reality, are shattered by the revolution. Like Erick J. Mota’s “Bleeding Hands of Castaways” in this month’s issue, Padura sets a portrait of love and loss to a soundtrack of memory, demonstrating how Cuban music shapes and reflects both personal and political history on the island.

Image: “La Rampa en La Habana,” by Samuel Negredo on Flickr

Published May 13, 2016   Copyright 2016 Susan Harris

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