By Cary Harrison
As Global Correspondent for HE Travel and KPFK (Los Angeles) Public Radio, I’ve seen some of the best and not so best versions of everything across the globe. Imagine Broadway-level drag Cabaret with high-end professional ballet dancers for the cost of a rum and Coke or a $1.50 bottle of domestic Cuban beer.I just lead a mixed gay and straight group of 20 travelers to Cabaret Las Vegas in Havana and watched the jaws impressively drop, one by one.
Many of these Cuban ballet dancers perform internationally at the most elite levels. Yet, for love of their own native Cuba, this exquisitely sophisticated talent unfolds mere feet from your #cabaret table. The ornate and skin-tight costuming only enhances the most exquisite and sexy balletic bottoms and choreography. Each callipygous muscle brilliantly ripples under the dancer’s silken material and you mesmerize at how the human body can be so masterfully designed and delivered in such gorgeous aesthetic eye-popping theatre.
Let me be clear: The kind of investment and excellence required to pull off this vaunted level of #gay drag-style entertainment would be completely cost-prohibitive for most neighborhood bars, especially in the US. The sheer number of required rehearsals, rehearsals, and rehearsals (pliés and pirouettes) would make such a complex production a practicable impossibility. Maybe Disney could pull it off, but then, it’s not really their brand, thankfully.
Cuba’s wide gay culture continues to expand quickly, thanks to Mariela Castro Espin, the daughter of President Raul Castro. Her tireless advocacy for gay, #bisexual, and #transgender rights across Cuba has created a vibrant and wide new culture that is now considered the envy of many other Latin American countries. Her recent appearance at Havana’s expanding Gay #Pride celebration also premiered the banner for the center which she established called the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), of which she is director.Even her Chief of Staff, Andy Aquino Agüero (@Libraquino) goes that extra mile to expand human rights and international goodwill.
Andy stayed an extra night in Havana just to personally ensure a group of American strangers would get to experience this extraordinary show at Cabaret Las Vegas. Andy’s extraordinary generosity and personal warmth was so refreshing, given today’s fast-paced, app-oriented digital culture. Mr. Agüero is exactly the right man to be further propelling this exciting, unfolding #LGBT Cuban movement.
Historical note: By 2008 (well before most US stations) Cuba’s state-television network had already broadcast Brokeback Mountain on over-the-air TV. Immediately following that, Cuba authorized sex-change operations.
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