A fresh alternative to the mainstream guides. For new kind of “traveller” who is concerned with sharing, making and listening rather than consuming and judging.
Fábrica de Arte Cubano – Cuba Wanderer
Fábrica de Arte Cubano (F.A.C) holds a very special place in my heart. I love this venue and spend at least one night a week here. Why? Because there is nowhere else like it, whether that’s in London, New York, Rome or Paris. Maybe, just maybe, Berlin could compete but that would be a stretch, a shot in the dark. It’s located at the west end of Vedado before crossing the river into Miramar, but don’t let that deter you from checking this place out. Not yet a tourist attraction, it offers the real deal authentic contemporary Cuban cultural scene.
This is a modern cultural Nirvana – a place of perfect peace and happiness. The concept of the venue beats any other because it is all done without any of the pretension that would accompany clubs in cities like Rome, London, NY and Paris.
La Fabrica has many possibilities, both indoor and outdoor: theatre, exhibits, drama, cinema, nightclub, live music, art gallery, fashion, design, a café and contemporary bars. You’re not just visiting F.A.C, it is a life changing experience – it’s buzzing with excitement, creativity and spirit.
I enjoy a cheap, killer strong Cuba Libre as I stroll around the white-walled maze-like area containing exhibitions and galleries, stumbling across small rooms on my way. There’s a huge cinema screen upstairs and downstairs in the back hall I’ve listened to live bands play jazz, reggae/pop, punk and rock. I remember the night when I was the only British member of the audience at a tribute to the Beatles performed by over 10 different bands, but that was just one Monday night in 2014 – every one is different! We sit on furniture made from recycled materials and watch a play or re-enactment of why Celia Cruz left Cuba, a warts and all no censorship performance, either in the script or from the actors. We gather outdoors under the night sky or within a variety of intimate indoor spaces.
If it were not for Cuba I would never have found the jazz pianist Roberto Fonseca. If it were not for F.A.C I would never have witnessed the brilliant ability of percussionist Yissy Garcia and her band.
By the age of 25, Yissy Garcia had already become a leading iconic female figure in percussion in Cuba. She decided to launch her solo career as a bandleader of a new musical project that encompasses Latin jazz, funk and electronic music. Her session left me without words and a new identity with jazz.
For director X Alfonso, F.A.C is a labour of love with extremely talented curators and programming connoisseurs. It was a lifetime in the planning and is a quintessential multi-purpose factory of the arts, culture, music and poetry.
Part contemporary art space, part nightclub, it’s mostly crowded and is set in a completely unique environment in which experimental moments can be shared with Cubans young and old, mostly young. Encounter works by artists of the future and witness contemporary dance and musical concerts that the rest of the world will have missed.
These days it’s only open Thursday to Sunday, from 9pm, with live events not starting until 11pm.
It’s best to arrive by Collectivo/Maquina and get there for just 10 Cuban Pesos. On Linea just before the tunnel (Calle 18 – 20) to Miramar and cross over Linea towards Calle 11 away from the Malecoń and turn right onto Calle 11 (towards Puente de Hierro) then walk a few blocks down to Calle 26.
There is a small cover charge on the way in – CUC or 50CUP – and in return you’ll get a card. As you consume drink and food your card will be stamped. Don’t lose the card! The maximum the card can hold is CUC before you are directed to pay and replace your card. You pay for everything upon exiting the establishment. If you lose your card you pay the maximum, which is CUC.