Party Arty 37 – avec Stylewalker

“Woah, that’s a big flyer”. Hell yeah! It’s a big party. I am excited because I’ve always been a fan of Party Arty and now finally I get to play there. Stylewalker on the decks again! This saturday, Ritter Butzke.

I always liked it because it was different. Always with big ambitions, Yaneq, the party dictator and organizer, tried to mix “vibes from different tribes” and presented diverse music, installations, performances and always a good crowd of people. In case you’ve never been there, here’s your chance: comment or hit me up via mail or Facebook if you want to be on the guestlist.

This is my personal agenda: The more people come, the more likely it is that I get a room on my own. And I want that, together with DJ Gaucho we would give you a good time on a little club floor.

And the rest of the crew is grand too, Sirius Mo and many others, check the line up here.

Not convinced yet? Watch this video of party mayhem and get your ass there on saturday!

Oh, music? Sure! Go back to my Party Arty 37 tracks selection and listen to this mix by Gaucho

Und wer immer noch nach mehr Hintergrundinfos dürstet, dem sei hier dieses Interview (aus meiner Küche) gegeben:

Two weeks in Cuba – Part 4, Trinidad and the end

Next day we left Santa Clara for good and went to the south coast to Trinidad, one of Cubas oldest colonial towns and touristic pearls. We took this sleepy dude along on the way there:

Trinidad has some very nice beaches around and it was time for some swimming and beach fun. Like reading, getting a tan, snorkeling, swimming in the warm Caribbean water. It could have been perfect. But no heaven without hell, in the nicest of moments I stepped into a nasty sea urchin and had a massive sting in my foot. I can tell you, that hurts! Good thing, the pain goes away quite fast, next evening it was gone. But I’m quite sure I still have a piece of that urchin in my foot. Don’t know what to make of that yet. Did I say the sunsets are amazing?
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Two weeks in Cuba – Part 3, Santa Clara

Next day we arrived in Santa Clara, a university town and place of Che Guevara’s decisive winning battle during the revolution. After asking around, we were lucky to get to know Jorge, our host for the next four days. In his place we felt very comfortable, the food was great and Jorge had very good advice about what kind of things to do. After all that car and horse riding it was like coming down and being home.

We watched baseball and an American movie on tv. A mistery I could not solve: how did this very badly scripted and even worse acted Californian business thriller end up on Cuban tv? Anyhow, bed, tv, relax, diner, we recharged. Then it was time go out. It was friday night and the town full of young people, we asked Jorge for advice and he sent us to “El bosque”.
A place which was going to be called “muy problematico” by anybody we would ask later.

But what a place! Open air, heavy Cubaton (listen above) from a massive soundsystem, dancers on stage, filled with well dressed party hungry people. The air seemed somewhat loaded with energy but hard to tell where that energy was going to. All eyes on us, the only Westeners around. Smiles, curiosity, hellos, almost a bit intimidating.

Until we knew what to do, we had a guy on our side who looked like Mike Tyson and would not let us alone for the rest of the evening. He was clearly a “jinetero”, trying to get drinks, trying to make friends, trying to make business. Friendly until the point we tried to get away. He was very annoying and intentionally scared everybody away who would come near to us, like we were “his victims”. That kind of spoiled the evening. We should have just been unfriendlier probably or even threat him with the security or police as we were told later by Jorge.

That’s a side of Cuban culture you have to accept as a fact also: there will always be somebody who will try to make business with you, get you a house, cigars, a horse ride, a girl. It’s annoying because you don’t know if a person is really interested or just wants to make a dime and you cannot really ask for advice since everybody will always know “the best place” which surprisingly is the one which grants him a commission. Anyhow, we had to learn how to live with it and became quite good in ignoring people in the end. The first line always is “where you from?” so in the end we had a little challenge who would come up with the best place. “Ucraine.” “Hell.” Mars.”

Our basecamp Santa Clara is in the middle of Cuba between north and south coast, so it was perfect to make trips in any direction. The first one took us to Cayo Las brujas which has some famous beaches which were not easy to find and are very stony, but also very lonely. And it also has some infamous tourist resorts. We took the chance to walk around in one of them which looked like a total fake colonial town and had all the wonderful things you would expect: Pools with water ballet, all inclusive buffet, volley ball, a beach crowded with people wearing wristbands. And who probably won’t see anything else of Cuba.

What a contrast to the rest we had seen, it made me feel like being in a zoo. We were happy to get out. On the way back to Santa Clara we we passed the very old and quiet, almost deserted town of Caibarien whilst enjoying another of this magical sunsets all red and intense.

Back home, we had some drinks in the street with guitar playing students. That fortunately rebuilt our trust after the Mike Tyson episode.

Next day we went south to see Hanabanilla, Cuba’s biggest storage lake and took a long hike around its coast.

The highlight was finding a wild orange tree loaded with fruit. Eating it was quite a disappointment, hours later it still felt like I had had a drink of pure acid. Hey, that’s nature! Another highlight was seeing these little fellas:

(in case you don’t see it: It is actually a socialist robot army, ready to fight back at any time.)

Back in the house we overheard baseball on the radio. It was live and it was in Santa Clara so we went straight there to see a game of Cuba’s most popular sport. The game was not very good, hardly any batter hit the ball and Santa Clara won the game with only three points in total. But the whole atmosphere was cool and the sandwiches with ham were amazing. Here, all was paid in pesos nacional, the baseball ticket equalled 8cents, the sandwich 20. And we won!

Read part 1 and part 2 or part 4 and drop me a comment if you want to know more details!

Two weeks in Cuba – Part 2, the West

Our road trip started with travelling to Viñales via La Teraza, a beautiful region with many tobacco fields. We picked up a hitchhiker who then showed us the cigar production he works for. We learned all about different shapes and leaves and how to roll them. It looked easy. But only because the man had 14 years of experience, I guess.

Next day we somehow got lured into a horse ride. Sitting on a horse called Moreno I got carried around the valley. We visited a cave inside a very peculiar hill which looked like it had fallen directly there from space. But next time I prefer to walk, it felt like sitting on a pony at a fun fair.

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Two weeks in Cuba – Part 1, Havana

My recent trip to Cuba was like a gigantic ride in a big theme park, full of adventures, challenges and encounters, like at different game levels. Me and my friend Robert road more than 2000 km on infamous roads and spent a very complete trip. Included were hiking, swimming in waterfalls, staying with families, dancing in sketchy open air joints, drinking rum and getting to know many, many people. Here is what happened.

January first, arrival in Havana. Smell of frying fat and auto gas. 25°C, streets full of people, strolling, hanging out or trying to get a hitchhike. We arrived late so we had to wake up our first host family. They took it with charme in pyjamas. Sleep after a long flight.

Breakfast, long walk from Vedado, our neighborhood (best in Havana imho) to the centre, through the newer one (Centro Habana) to the old (Habana Vieja). Havana has beautiful colonial villas, mixed with 70s and 80s skyscrapers and small simple family houses, but hardly any new buildings. Many of them are run down, but some in good shape. Some are actually falling apart. The vanishing beauty has a certain kind of melancholy to it.

Cuba is one of the last countries with a socialist political system. Only a few months ago it became possible for people to sell and buy real estate. Shortly before, one-person businesses were made legal. Internet is very expensive and rare, there is only one newspaper which consists of 10 pages each day. There is no product advertising since every product exists only once. On public displays you will instead read life instructions like to defend socialism, watch out for enemies and to enforce the revolution within yourself everyday, illustrated by numerous paintings of Che and Fidel. Travelling is only possible for a few people.

There are two currencies: the “moneda nacional” to buy local products, pay for electricity etc. All imported products are paid in CUC, or “convertibles”. If you pay in local money, it is very cheap, but most things for tourists (hostels, gasoline, food at the families) are in CUC and pretty expensive. The money families make with hosting tourists goes to a big part to the government as tax. Still, it is a good way for Cubans to earn something extra.

People don’t have much and they have to get around many difficulties, like public transport, fixing things over and over again and having “more time than life”, as a Cuban saying goes. But somehow, most seem to get along with it somehow, in a stoic, relaxed and ironic way. Maybe socialism works better on a Caribbean island than in Siberia. You don’t want to wait for a hitchhike for hours in Siberia. But let’s go back to Havana.

We strolled around in el centro for a little bit, looking at empty shelves in stores and beginning to feel the relaxed buzz of the city. Somebody offered us to be his driver, because he knew his way around plus we could drink all the time. He seemed more of the kind that we had to take care of later so we said no. Finally, we had a glas of 15 year old rum, which was good but shockingly expensive. My advice for rum: 5 years is old enough, it’s good but it does not get much better.

We took a cab home and experienced a highlight: the kick with the boys from the block on the streets, thanks to Andi, the son of the family who took us there.

Havana was fine, but it was time to get on the road. Next day we were about to meet our car. I was relieved we actually got it (we had paid for it in advance) but there it was, a brand new Geely.

We called her Margarita. She had a tough time with us on the Cuban streets with potholes big like bathtubs which turn to mudways all of a sudden sometimes. But we always spared a caring clap and a “sorry” after painful bumps and so she took us all the way around Cuba from the far west to Santa Clara in the middle.

Read part 2 and drop me a comment if you want to know more details!

Great Shigeto Mini-Album

This one of these cristalline, fragile, simple sounding yet complex compositions which I like to listen to when it’s freezing cold in winter, you sit inside and watch the ice on the windows grow while the smoke from the chimney across the balcony draws structures in the clear sky. Shigeto’s Mini album “Lineage” is one of those I have on repeat right now. I first discovered this London producer via his highly interesting XLR8 podcast and this album I found via Wenkewho and The Fader. Enjoy!