At 2 am on January 1st, 1959, U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista and his associates hurried onto a small plane and fled Cuba once and for all. They had realized their defeat by the revolutionary Rebel Army led by Fidel Castro was inevitable, and this became the first New Years Eve where the masses of Cuban people were able to celebrate the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. 60 years later, Cubans alongside people around the world celebrate the date and the incredible achievements of the Cuban Revolution that has inspired millions of people around the world to struggle for a better world, as well as looking forward to another year of great effort for peace, equality and social justice.
Since 2005, Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) has organized an annual Cuban New Year Eve celebration bringing together hundreds of people to celebrate the new year and the Cuban Revolution.
This year’s party marked 61 years of the Cuban Revolution! The doors of the Heritage Banquet Hall in New Westminster opened to Cuban revolutionary banners adorning the walls along with party lights and festive decorations; tables with information on Cuba and social justice causes; delicious Cuban food and drinks being served at the bar; a photo booth with props and a Cuban background where party go-ers could get a polaroid taken; and of course the enticing dance floor! The party started with Tamara Hansen, the coordinator of VCSC recounting the historic victory of the Cuban Revolution that this party was celebrating. Then Coast Salish Indigenous Elder, activist and organizer Kelly White got everyone up on their feet to participate in acknowledging the unceded Central Coast Salish territories that the event was taking place on, and to join in a round dance to the sound of her drumming and singing.
The event then continued with live music – first with a beautiful song sung by the young activist Nadia Binetti. The crowd then warmed up with the Ranchera singing of MX Katracho, whose music from the soul of ‘Nuestro America’ brought people up to their feet for some spontaneous dancing! Before the evening’s salsa lesson, Janine Solanki, national coordinator of the Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade to Cuba, spoke to invite people to join the brigade and be part of this unique travel experience in Cuba! The program of the Che Brigade features salsa lessons, so to give a taste of that experience Janine got everyone up on their feet to warm up the dance floor with a salsa lesson! This set the stage for DJ Zaza and Nadro to take over get the dance party rolling! They also handed over the DJ booth to DJ Carlitos Tunes Tunes from El Salvador, who spun his Latin fusion of hits that kept the dance floor shaking all night long!
The dance floor was packed as the clock counted down to midnight, and 2020 was brought in with the balloon drop cascading from the ceiling, the sound of cheers and noisemakers, and celebratory hugs all around. The festivities continued and near the end of the night Tamara Hansen took a pause to announce the winners of the raffle prizes, with books, Cuban mementos, t-shirts and the prized Havana Club rum!
This one-of-a-kind party enjoyed by over 120 people can best be described as a party in Cuba – an inclusive event where the whole family from kids to grandparents and everyone in between can enjoy dancing, eating, drinking and celebrating together! What better way to welcome in 2020, and to celebrate 60 years of the Cuban Revolution!
Check out upcoming Cuba solidarity events at www.vancubasolidarity.com, or follow on Facebook, and Instagram and Twitter @VanCuba_VCSC
Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki
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