Going to a Theater in Cuba

By Repatriado

The line for Cubans to purchase tickets outside Havana’s Grand Theater.

HAVANA TIMES – In Havana, there are very few places where you can go that don’t cost you a fortune or mean that you are surrounded by Reggaeton’s vulgar sect and their followers. The theaters are one of the places that my wife and I still have, a place where we can take refuge whenever we can.

It’s relatively easy and cheap to go to the theater in Havana, and there is quite a lot of variety and decent shows, but being able to see the Lizt Alfonzo company (an amazing Cuban dance troupe) is something else.

My wife, who loves classical, modern and every kind of dance, went to get tickets. As we don’t live near the Alicia Alonso Grand Theater, the same place where Obama spoke, she woke up at 5:30 AM to get there before 8 AM because tickets would be sold after 9 AM and she thought getting in line an hour beforehand would be enough. What a miscalculation!

She called me at 11 AM to go and take her place because she had to go to work and the line hadn’t barely moved forward, plus the ticket booth was going to close for lunch soon. Because I know my country, I wasn’t surprised when I got this call, you rarely get to do anything within the amount of time you thought you would here in Cuba.

When I got there, around midday, it was a sight for sore eyes! Luckily, people who go to these kinds of things continue to be the most civilized people living in the capital, but there were so many and they were becoming irritated because of the heat, hunger, thirst and standing up for hours on end. There were people there from the day before.

Alone in the line and without anything better to do, I began to joke about with the other people suffering while the theater remained closed to Cubans, yep that’s right, Cubans because foreigners could keep going in and buying their tickets.

The difference in treatment of nationals and foreigners doesn’t end there… The line was just for Cubans, foreigners could go straight inside to the ticket booth and buy however many tickets they wanted, we were only allowed to buy 4 tickets each.

Many beads of sweat later, coming up to the ticket booth, the guard (the same ever-present guard at every Cuban state door), came by asking us for our ID cards (from us Cubans, obviously). An old man asked him why and his response was “to put you down on the list”, he didn’t even look at him when he said it, and nobody dared to ask what the “list” was for but sure enough there was a woman sitting down at a table and she jotted down our details into a big and threatening notebook.

The security guard and the woman taking the list.

Nearly 3 PM, with only 10 people in front of me, the woman making her suspicious notes left her table for some unknown reason and the line (for us Cubans, of course) didn’t move anywhere for another 25 minutes.

During that time, a Cuban national who works at an embassy went straight inside and bought tickets in CUC, which I know now, but at that time none of us there knew what was going on and thought that he had just cut the line, and chaos broke out…

Having survived shouts and shoving from the not-so-civilized people there anymore, and after the guard managed to take control of the situation again to explain the Cuban national’s unique situation, I could go in and buy my 4 tickets which cost me 100 pesos (5 USD), a fifth of an average monthly wage.

Thanks to the wisdom I’ve gained from many a situation like this one, I didn’t let myself get down. I went home happy around 6 PM, I hydrated myself and happy to know that we would see a great dance performance next Sunday, I sat down to write this, wishing for my foreign friends who read my articles to know that they don’t have to wait in line in Cuba, that this is just for us natives, that they shouldn’t be afraid or listen to Trump, that they should keep on coming because the Ministry of Culture would greatly appreciate it.

14 thoughts on “Going to a Theater in Cuba

  • July 20, 2018 at 1:07 pm
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    No change here! Cubans have continuously been treated as secondary to visitors from other countries. It’s less than five years since they have been permitted to stay in hotels, although the Constitution supposedly permitted dong so. The fact that the visitors are from those evil capitalist countries with opportunity for individual expression is of little concern to the money-grubbing communist dictatorship, they want the money.

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  • July 20, 2018 at 3:25 pm
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    Something is hidden here. At GranTeatro , Cubans pay 30 CUP and foreigners pay 30 CUC (24 times more). And you could say that we have a money. But I pay less in Toronto for much better performance.

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    • July 21, 2018 at 7:58 am
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      I did some quick research. 30CUC is about $40.00 CDN.

      A lower priced ticket to see Wicked is $69.00.
      Some tickets for big name shows are cheaper, if they are still available after people pay full price. Eg. you can see The Rocky Horror Picture Show for $15.00 if you’ll take what’s left over after others have their pick. And that’s if there are tickets still left.

      TheatreSports (improv) is $15.00 or $10.00 for students.

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    • July 21, 2018 at 1:08 pm
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      Last night I went to see Cinderella, performed by the Cuban National Ballet, I really doubt you can see something better anywhere.

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      • July 21, 2018 at 4:07 pm
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        The Cuban National Ballet is world class. Alicia Alonso and her husband did a wonderful job. I only get to see it on Cuban TV, but find it enthralling.

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  • July 20, 2018 at 6:20 pm
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    I prefer El Latino in El Cerro.
    No problem getting in.
    Planchao en los calconcillos.
    No problem.
    Viva Armandito.

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    • July 21, 2018 at 1:13 pm
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      Did you know that Fidel gifted a little car, a Fiat-Polsky, to Armandito?? My father was two years in a Vietnamese jungle working “for proletarian solidarity” in the eighties under the promise of to can to buy a car once he returned, what do you think happened???

      See you next time in Latino to yell dirty things to those awful umpiress that hate Industriales.

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      • July 21, 2018 at 8:00 pm
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        So no car?
        But I hope your Dad returned ok and that he has good memories of the wonderful and unique country that is Vietnam??
        I have only ever been to the ballet twice in my life.
        Both times in El Gran Teatro.
        Bought tickets in advance. Moneda Nacional.
        No problem getting in. Enjoyed it immensely.
        I am a big fan of culture.
        But prefer the culture of Chocalate el salchichon dando vueltas encima del home dug out in that incomparable sports arena in El Cerro.
        There are so many times in my life when I’ve been doing some shit and I’ve thought to myself ‘I wish I was in El Latino with my best Cuban buddy watching the baseball’.
        I saw Antonio Skull hit the ball outta the park one time and I swear to God that ball bounced off the top of the Habana Libre !!
        Industrialismo o muerte !!

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      • July 23, 2018 at 2:11 pm
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        But the car gifted by Hugo Chavez to the Cuban surgeon who operated on him, was a reality! Mind you, it was doubtless the Venezuelan taxpayers who paid, not Hugo himself.

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  • July 20, 2018 at 10:36 pm
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    Thanks for writing this and I’m sorry that this is reality. This is so maddening!

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    • July 21, 2018 at 1:16 pm
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      Mad is that we Cubans accept this little apartheid as normal.

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  • July 21, 2018 at 10:11 am
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    The last time I was in La Habana, my wife and I went to see the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. It was especially rewarding because Viengsay Valdes was performing. Anyway, my wife is a former well known national news reporter and was recognized as soon as we queued up to buy tickets. Someone from the box office ushered us from the line to an office inside where we were allowed to pay for both tickets in CUP and our names (my wife’s name really) added to the will call list. I think that the official simply pocketed our money. The point of my story: Saving hours of our time waiting in line and being able to buy both tickets in CUP was a big plus. The performance was world class, as good as anything we have seen here in San Francisco or even New York. Even the set was well done. All in all, preferential treatment like this ALMOST made me a Communist for the night. I would not have yelled Viva Fidel but it was pretty cool.

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    • July 22, 2018 at 4:50 am
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      As a foreigner, I do not mind paying more in CUC when I go to the theatre with a Cuban friend who pays in CUP. I feel I help subsidize the theatre and its works and that is fine with me. The arts in Cuba are amazing and deserve it. I just wish they would take Canadan money at par.

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  • July 22, 2018 at 1:18 pm
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    I have nothing against you pay more, it is your decision to do it if you want, but I am against that to pay more give you difference in treatment over me, aren’t we a social country?

    Thinking better I do am against someone have to pay more for the same ticket, I understand to pay more for a better place to watch the show, but not difference price based in nationalities. I stand against differentiations amount human beings.

    Reply

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