The place was on my list, a club I planned to visit in the future, one of those I’ll-get-there-soon venues, soon being relative, of course.
“Soon” for Son Havana came quicker than I expected.
It was one of my last nights in town before I was to depart on The Great Adventure (more on that later, naturally), and three new friends, Jay, Natalia and Yanitza, invited me to go to a bar with them, the bar at the Wandering Paisa, a Laureles-area hostel near San Juan and Carrera 70.
We were having a good time talking, having a few beers, basically just relaxing and watching the Karaoke at the other end of the bar. I even ran into an old friend, Steve from New York, and Natalia made a new one, David from Kansas. I wonder if they have gone out yet? I’m rooting for you, amiguita!
Anyway, the Paisa emptied out around midnight or 1, apparently something it always does, and people scattered, small groups going their own direction to continue the rumba, a cluster of us included. We just had to decide where to go. I didn’t hear a name, only that it was a short walk away and that was good enough for me.
About 10 minutes later, we were on a quiet block. Well, quiet except for the faint sound of salsa music that jumped several decibels in random intervals, you know, like when someone opens a door to a place where music is playing. I think you can guess where I’m going with this.
When I saw the sign that read “Son Havana,” I said, “Great! I’ve been meaning to come here!”
We immediately went into the club and the Cuban theme is clear. If the name didn’t drop a hint, the big flag on the wall gives it away.
The place was pretty packed, no empty seats, not much room to maneuver, at times no room on the dance floor, but that didn’t stop several people in our group from going to the floor, something I might have done if I had not been so tired from waking up early to work and run some last-minute errands.
I stayed back by the bar with Steve instead, trying to hang out with a good friend who I probably won’t see again for some time. He and his girlfriend are moving to New York, and probably someday soon, Italy.
I watched other people dance and enjoyed the music. I can’t tell you the names of the songs or artists — I’m still not familiar enough with salsa music. But I liked the rhythm and the vibe in the place. Maybe El Tibiri and El Eslabon Prendido are more popular salsa spots, but Son Havana is just as good.
Before we knew it, the clock was creeping toward 3, the sign of a good time, and most of us decided it was time to go home. I looked back one last time as I walked toward the door, to determine if the place experienced the same Cinderella effect I saw at the Wandering Paisa, but not much had changed.
Was it 1 a.m. or 3 a.m., I wondered? It is hard to tell the difference when the dance floor thrives and the music thumps on a normally-quiet corner of lovely Laureles.