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Buena Vista Social Night Club


The Buena Vista Social Club was a social club that was located in the populous Marianao neighborhood in Havana city that gathered a group of members that practiced activities related to music and dance and that enjoyed wide popularity in Cuba. It became an obligatory meeting place for the musicians of that time. Important musicians as bassist Cachao López , Arsenio Rodríguez and Rubén González played at the club during the 1930s and 1940s .

In 1996, a group of legendary Cuban musicians, many of them former members of that club, where they performed when their popularity was at their peak, including Ibrahim Ferrer (who died in 2005 at the age of 78), singer, Compay Segundo (died in 2003 at the age of 95) and Eliades Ochoa, (guitarist/singer), the pianist Rubén González Fontanills (died in 2003 at the age of 84), Omara Portuondo, among others, were summoned by the Cuban musician Juan de Marcos González and the North American guitarist Ry Cooder to record at EGREM Studios.

This album was commercially highly successful and critically unexpected, earning a Grammy and becoming the best-selling work of Cooder’s long career. In 1998 Cooder returned to Havana with his son Joaquim, percussionist, to record a solo LP with Ferrer. The sessions were captured in the film by German filmmaker Wim Wenders, who also documented the blockbuster live performances of the Buena Vista Social Club in Amsterdam and New York in 1998. The documentary also includes interviews with the musicians carried out in Havana. Wenders’ film, also titled Buena Vista Social Club, won an Oscar nomination in 2000 and the Best Documentary Award at the European Film Awards.


The success of the album and the film sparked international interest in traditional Cuban music and Latin American music in general. Some of the Cuban musicians later released solo albums that were well received and others were recorded in collaboration with various international music stars of different genres. The name “Buena Vista Social Club” became an inclusive term for this type of collaborative presentation and launch, in addition to being related to a label that encompasses the “Golden Age of Cuban music”, between the 1930s and 1950s.

Nowadays the club is located in Old Havana and some of the members of that legendary group, such as Omara Portuondo and Eliades Ochoa play and sing along with a new generation of talented musicians who love this Cuban musical genre.