To you and me it’s a drag show but here in Cuba it’s called transformismo which seems to more hit the nail on the head, no? Someone had asked me where the best-dressed drag in town was, and, not sure of my ground, I invited myself to dinner at a friend´s house and consulted with him and two old friends, Robertico and Erick.
First up in Havana is LAS VEGAS. ´´What I really like about this place,´´ said Robertico, ´´is that it’s small and very comfortable, and the service is excellent.´´ The transformismo is said to be the best in Havana; top quality show, top quality costumes. A must.
Next on the catwalk is CHAPLIN. ´´I think this one is more natural, ´´ said Erick. ´´It might not have the level of La Vegas or Divino – its simple, new – but the costumes are great, it’s very friendly, cheap (only 2 cucs entry), and I like that they have a health programme – very important´´. (Chaplin supplies good quality and attractive HIV information, and gives out free condoms to punters).
Their third choice is DIVINO. ´´This is more international. ´´ said our host, Giolvis. ´´Quite a lot of foreigners go there, and there are often informal art exhibitions – videos, photos, performance – from quite well-known artists. I like it. ´´
´´But that, ´´ interrupted Robertico, ´´is what makes it posey – for me, at least. It can be a bit of a pick-up place, ´´ he frowned. ´´You know… people looking to hit on tourists just because they´re tourists.´´
´´Well,´´ retorted Erick, ´´I still recommend it. The music is very contemporary, a great laser show; its classy.´´
The surprising extra is that they do their own show – in Robertico´s house.
´´A group of friends meet at my place every weekend,´´ he explained,
´´ and more or less 6 times a year we put on a fabulous show – La Belleza Latina. On Xmas Day we´re part of an annual neighbourhood fancy dress party – and we put on a performance for them. It’s really great. Our shows have become part and parcel of the local community, ´´ he smiled, happily. This little black number (see photo) was one of the very frocks he wore this last Xmas. (The other photo shows R. playing it straight in elegant matching hat and coat).
Before I leave they tell me I mustn´t forget to mention two particular gems outside of Havana. One is the very famous and ´´absolutely fabulous´´ EL MEJUNJE, in Santa Clara. Saturday is their show night. The other is the ´´very lovely´´ LA RUINA in Matanzas – also a Saturday affair.
So there you have it. And if you´d like to make a small contribution pop into a chemist before you hop on the plane. Lipstick/ gloss, false eye lashes/nails, foundation and glitter are always needed. You know how we girls are.
LAS VEGAS: Infanta #104, esq. Calle 25, Plaza. Entry: 3 cucs. Bar
CHAPLIN: La Vibora, 10 de Octubre. Entry 1 cuc
DIVINO: Café Cantante, Teatro Nacional, Paseo y Calle 39, Plaza. Entry: 3 cucs. Bar.
If you want to take your experience from bars to the streets, attend the gay pride march in Cuba.