The Growth of EDM in Cuba

Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is sometimes referred to as club music, dance music, or plainly, dance. The music genre is popular among urban music lovers and club revelers. EDM is mainly made for night clubs, dance parties, and raves. EDM is basically a collection of electronic music subgenres that are made for masses that love dancing, enjoy disco music and wild beats. Sub-genres of electronic music include trance music, downtempo, dub synthpop, hardstep, techno, house music, drum and bass, dubstep, trap, industrial music, and bassline. The music became popular in mainstream settings during the 1980s and 1990s.

Pioneer artistes of EDM include Jean-Michel Jarre, Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder, and Pete Bellotte. The Kings and queens of the disco era inspired a lot of the current electronic dance musicians. Current EDM artists who are known for making excellent electronic beats and music include Skrillex, David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Tiesto and groups like The Chain Smokers, Daft Punk, and Swedish House Mafia. The late Avicii was hailed as being a key figure in the growth of modern EDM on a global scale.

EDM has predominantly been a Europen genre of music for the longest time. The music was initially played in clubs in France, Britain, Germany and a few states in America before spreading to other parts of the world. One such country where electronic music is widely played today is Cuba. The Carribean country is famously known for the amazing Salsa dance and music and Rumba. A new crop of DJs and music producers have promoted the music genre across the country, leading to the introduction of new fans. You will find a good number of Havana clubs playing electronic music weekend to weekend during your Cuba outings.

A trip down Havana streets will enable you to understand how much of a big deal electronic music is in Cuba today. Like any other Carribean country, the nightlife in Cuban cities is lively. Cubans and especially those who live in big cities like Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad, and Santa Clara love partying. The party animals hop from one club to another sampling good music as they dance their hearts out till dawn. DJs in bars and clubs have realized that electronic music sells, and so they incorporate EDM in their mixes. One DJ at a popular club in Havana was quoted saying that video and disc jockeys in the country strive to show the world how skilled EDM disc jockeys are.

Artists like Juan Blanco are credited for introducing a fraction of electronic music in Cuba in the 1980s when all that was in the music scene was merengues, salsa, and reggaeton. 1997 is perhaps the year that the electronic music wave properly got to Cuba. Musicians, DJs, filmmakers and other artists from Berlin visited the Carribean nation and introduced this genre which seemed foreign to a lot of Cubans. The artists who were from the renowned Love Parade Festival visited with records, various pieces of musical equipment and strategies that helped in the introduction of electronic dance music in the Cuban music scene. One prominent name from the German squad was DJ Hell. The German DJ has an impressive discography and is recognized for aiding in the spread of EDM music in Cuba. DJ Hell even sampled a few Cuban records when he made his 1998 album, Machine Munich.

The first major electronic music festival in Cuba was held in 2016. The Manana Festival took place between 4th – 6th, May 2016. The festival happened in Santiago de Cuba, a city known as a cultural capital. The festival attracted huge sponsors both locally and internationally, government agencies, Santiago residents and the general Cuban public. The festival had different musicians from various genres perform and team up with artists in the electronic dance genre. A Guy Called Gerald, Will Holland also known as Quantic, Nickodemus, leftfield house producer Gifted & Blessed, Dengue Dengue Dengue, Madam X, Nicolas, and Plaid are some of the big names that graced the festival. Manana Festival was an Afro-Cuban and electronic music dance affair. All the stakeholders involved in the planning and arrangement of the three-day even said that it was a success.

The rise of social media and the internet, in general, has also led to the rise of EDM in Cuba. Electronic fans across Cuba form groups and channels online where they discuss the music genre and ways of making it grow in the diverse music industry. One such group is Electronic Music Magazine of Cuba – Coocuyo. The digital platform gives underground electronic artists a chance to grow and be known in the public through their online magazine. The website is a great medium for anyone who wants to listen to live music and get a chance to know up and coming musicians through the interviews they conduct. One can also learn a little about DJIng and mixing if interested and be informed about anything that is related to the Cuban electronic music scene.

DJ Hell and the German team that visited the country in 1997 are hailed by many modern-day disc jockeys in Havana bars and pubs for their contribution to EDM in Cuba. One DJ in a popular club was heard saying that DJ Hell taught hem how electronic dance parties are supposed to happen. The German artists also helped a lot of Cuban creatives compile mixtapes, cassettes, pieces of vinyl, and CD players. All these were common in the late 1990s and the 2000s. Cuban Americans who hailed from Miami are another group that is credited for bringing electronic music to Havana. The Cuban Americans loved house music, a sub-genre of the greater EDM.

The electronic dance music was also significant to minority groups in Havana. DJs played house music during the weekends and in parties where tourists flocked. The tourists interacted with the queer community in Havana, where they could feel safe. Private parties were loved by marginalized groups like youths and gays. Present day Cuba has tons of EDM artists who continue to shine both locally and in the international stage. DJ Jigüe, Yissy García, Luz de Cuba and Kamerum are some of the famous names in the electronic dance scene.

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