Wed, 16 Jun 2021

HAVANA, May 8 (Xinhua) -- Madeleine Gonzalez, a resident in Havana's Playa district, turned her living room into a dance floor to get rid of social stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thousands of people watched a concert by local musicians through TV and live streaming on May 1, which marked the first time that the island country had celebrated the national day of Cuban Son.

The 42-year-old engineer in red jogging pants, loose T-shirt and black sneakers often hang out with friends before the COVID-19 outbreak. Now, a new way which allows them to continue enjoying the music and at the same time avoid spread of the disease has come out -- dancing at home.

"I support this initiative because I enjoy dancing to son music," she said while taking a five-minute break on her couch, "musicians are doing their best to keep interacting with us. Son music is the life."

Gonzalez's husband Yuris Perez, a 36-year-old taxi driver, joined her in their private dancing room after getting home.

"I love the energy of music and the way it makes me relaxed. We will continue dancing despite lockdowns," he told Xinhua.

The Caribbean country is holding a campaign to include son music in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in the coming years.

Indira Fajardo, president of Cuban Music Institute, said that son music was one of the most relevant expressions of the local culture.

"This is part of our identity, and it is the result of the contributions of many musicians who have put son music on the map," she said. "Cuba places its music at the highest level of its culture."

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, local musicians have given live-streaming performances to better interact with their fans and recorded albums until live events could be open again.

Emilio Frias, leader of "El Nino y La Verdad" salsa music band, recalled his last live performance in a small club in Havana on the night of March 13, 2020, just one day before cultural venues on the island were closed.

"I miss the face-to-face contact with the public. I need that," he told Xinhua, "though making music under confinement is very difficult, there is no other choice at the moment."

Nightclubs, bars, and music halls in Cuba remain closed at present as the country is fighting the third wave of COVID-19.

"Although the disease brought music performances to a standstill, musicians and people have found innovative ways to stay connected," said Adalberto Alvarez, winner of the Cuban National Prize of Music in 2008.

"This is a country of dancers," said Alvarez.

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