Music is everywhere in Cuba. Salsa, rumba, reggae and a million other strains boom out of buildings, cars and bars. Listening to music in Cuba is often an outdoor experience, but a new movement will allow Cubans and music lovers to hear a range of exciting bands and acts from a living room floor.
Sofar Sounds started in London in 2009 when the founders decided the traditional concert experience didn’t quite cut it – people talking, glasses clanging at the bar and somewhere amidst all the chaos a band trying to be heard and connect with an audience. So they created impromptu shows, often in a living room or private space, without publicizing the location until the night of the performance and getting the guests excited about attending even though they had no idea who would be playing.
What started as a secret concert with a few friends in a living room became so popular that people decided to start Sofars in their cities all around the world. Sofar is now on five continents, more than 300 cities and over 400 gigs per month and counting. There are only three rules to make the experience great – don’t talk or text while the music is playing, respect the artists and stay till the end.
It’s a novel concept which has made music history and thrilled investors such as Richard Branson – who has a long track record of music entrepreneurship – enough to bet big on Sofar’s success.
And now Sofar Sounds can be heard in Havana. Although the premise may not get as much traction in Cuba where you can hear world class artists turn up unannounced on a street corner, this is an incredible opportunity to experience how Cubans live (for visitors and across the cultural strata). It will be interesting to see how it goes as one of the big challenges in Cuba is internet availability. The Sofar system works by sending you a notification of the address of the gig shortly before it takes place. But the music is the most important thing – and already a great variety of artists have played Sofar Havana. Why not apply to a gig and find out about it for yourself – whatever city you happen to be in!