Written by Fifer Garbesi
You're sitting on the floor of a cramped loft in Havana, Cuba. The sun streams through a window overlooking a market, and the sounds filter in softly from outside: chickens clucking, people bartering. Inside, it's a makeshift recording studio complete with turntables, mixers and crates of vintage dance vinyls. Your journey into Cuba’s electronic music underground - a creative retaliation against this country's isolationism - begins here.
You are soon joined by the godfather of Cuban electronic music, Joyvan Guevara. Guevara keeps the spirit of free parties alive in Cuba, and he has a massive rave planned for tonight. There, you'll dance 'til dawn as you experience the incredible story of a people perched on the brink of a global culture and the artists leading their way.
This is ¡Viva La Evolución!, the premiere experience in The Virtual Rave, a series chronicling underground raves worldwide directed by VR Producer/ Director Fifer.
¡Viva! began with a desire to celebrate the lifting of the embargo through a wild, all-night celebration with DJs from around the world. Before the lifting of the embargo, Fifer worked with Guevara on a traditional documentary focused on how Cuban DJs participate in global remix culture without internet access. After Obama’s announcement in January, she knew it was time to return and bring with her a new technology she believed could fully immerse the viewer in another environment.
“Electronic music and virtual reality both achieve complete transportation through a powerful fusion of technology and art,” stated Fifer. “After everything Havana had shared with me, I felt it was my duty to share this new technology with them.”
Por Mejor Musicá, Cuba’s biggest event production company was converted by the experience as well, covering the inside of La Chorrera with massive LED panels controlled by Guevara’s childhood friend, Emmy-winning visual effect artist Harold Hernandez, who had returned from the US just that week.
With techno and house DJs from Germany, the US, and Cuba, the castle bumped with party-goers until the dawn. If you weren’t in Havana that night, you’ll have the chance to dance inside The Virtual Rave.
For many of her friends in Havana, this was their first opportunity to go to a party outside of Cuba. Rocking out onstage with a full band at Alex Grey’s Bicycle Day celebration in San Francisco, they understood why she was using this new medium to help share their story with viewers in the US.
For this party, Guevera had his eye on La Chorrera, a 1800s Spanish castle on the Malecon, Havana’s famous sea wall. Armed with a Gear VR, Guevara and Fifer transported the boss high above a laser show during Eric Prydz ‘Opus’ tour. He was hooked! They had their venue.