Cuba’s Jazzy Vibrance

One of Cuba’s allures is its mystery. Crumbling pastel-colored facades line its streets, live music permeates the air. One of the first thing you see when you arrive is a sea of 1950s Chevys, Chryslers, Buicks, and Pontiacs parked outside the airport. 

(Manuel Romano /NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Which leads to the question: What do we except to experience while in Cuba? Will it be a night out at an authentic paladar (a family-run restaurant) in Havana? A discovery into the history of one of Cuba’s Art Deco buildings? Perhaps just a spontaneous adventure?

Well, that’s entirely up to you. But as a precursor to your journey in real life, Assouline plans to release Havana Blues, a stunning tome about Cuba, later this summer. The book is written by Pamela Ruiz, an author and photographer who came to Cuba in the 1990s and fell in love—both with the country and her husband, Cuban artist Damian Aquiles. Formerly a location scout for photography shoots, Ruiz began to turn her attention to art, specifically bridging the international art world and Cuba.

Her book welcomes you to Havana, a city filled with overwhelming energy. Situated along the Straits of Florida, the capital of Cuba has been through several identities: Spanish colonial settlement, mobster rule in the 1930s, the glamour of the 1950s, Cuban revolution and, most recently, a cultural renaissance. Havana’s bold, provocative approach to art, cuisine, and Entertainment including its range of architecture styles from the 16th century to the modern day, confer this epic city with a legendary status on par with the world’s greatest locales. While some of the buildings are in disrepair, the beauty of the Baroque, Neoclassical and Art Deco features many triumphs. 

( Courtesy of Jack Pierson)

For instance, the iconic Copa Room cabaret that hosted Ginger Rogers and Abbott and Costello still stands. The Gran Teatro de la Habana—built in the early 20th century—is now home to the Cuban National Ballet. And Habana Vieja is undergoing a massive restoration to its former glory. Havana could be seen as a work-in-progress, but it is more a testament to its never-ending determination to improve and progress—which might be the allure that still attracts so many visitors today. 

(Milos Krivokapic/Alamy Stock Photo)