Illustration: Mayo Bous / Magazine AM: PM.

Dismantling the night: Olalá that suits you

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Reading time 6 minutes

Me ha parecido que el juego de luces del Olalá es medio hipnótico, al menos después de unos tragos lo creo. Si uno se queda más de lo previsto ahí, se lo tendría que deber, en buena medida, al juego de luces.

Sobre el suelo oscuro, los hexágonos color violeta se acoplan con la música. Con Ozuna, Bad Bunny, Maluma o J Balvin, sin esperar sorpresas. El Olalá es otro de los bares que apuntalan el ánimo de La Habana. Aparentemente, una alternativa más al ocio. Pero no, claro, la alternativa de cualquiera. Es destrozadoramente ingenuo creer que alguien puede disfrutar a plenitud la noche habanera llevando cien pesos cubanos en la cartera. La vida de la capital se encarece. En el Olalá están al corriente, y te lo restriegan, adrede o no, en la cara. No son ellos los monstruos de la película. Ni tienen funciones caritativas, ni cargan con la culpa de que los salarios nacionales sean nada. El plan del Olalá, en cualquier variante, es cerrar el mes con ganancias. Podríamos achacarle su falta de originalidad en estética, sus mismas listas en la cabina del DJ con los éxitos que encontrarías en cualquier centro nocturno, pero nada de eso lo hace menos funcional o más inicuo.

This is a place that has not been made to make anyone fall in love, where a Cuban proudly tells his American girlfriend that Pitbull is also Cuban. Where the bride seems to get excited and exclaims a "Thats great". Where he, shrewd, will shake his shoulders, as if he wanted to convince himself that he and Pitbull are more or less the same person, and that he gets involved with a single test of sandunga. Then, the girlfriend who is with him, is, in turn, with a portion of Pitbull.

The couple drinks mojito next to the bar, after looking carefully at the letter in which there are bottles of Havana Club for more than three hundred CUC and whiskey of different labels for more than two hundred. The mojito costs about three, like imported beer. They are served by the bartender, who is a young white man with slicked hair, as well as many others who perform these functions in Havana's private bars.

After ten o'clock at night I am part of the Sibylline contrast of the former Sarao bar, now renamed Olalá, on the corner where they kiss the streets 17 and E of Vedado, which is, in the end, the kind of place that makes you feel badly -I insist- if you bring less than fifty CUC in your wallet. It makes you feel bad if you do not get drunk until you scream all happy and think that life is great to have you there. But above all it will make you feel bad if you are a thirty-year-old Cuban alone, looking for a place where you can lay your back on your back to simply spend the night outside, without dancing, without wanting to interfere in anything, with a cold bottle of beer sweating in your left hand , drumming with the right.

For the dawn, I will be a surly detective, cut in half by the artificial gloom, trying my myopic sight to discover the essence of the place in which I am involved, maybe ambitioning to snoop in the soul of Havana nocturnal, scattered and blue, that I think I know. At the moment it is not eleven o'clock at night and the detail that can be highlighted is that the Cubans present are still the majority.

The couple at the bar have moved to one of the tables, all surrounded by dice-shaped seats, with white vinyl liners that communicate the certainty that you can not rest in them peacefully unless you are going to consume, to pay the privilege. Seen this way, with the weight of economic coercion, the Olalá can, late at night, be annoying.

The couple at the bar, who obviously moves on another rope, smile. The two, mulattos. She in a thick cloth dress and he in a cap, light shirt and a backpack. Everything indicates that they do not wear so much together, because otherwise, in my opinion, they were not in the Olalá.

I go after another beer. The second sum seven pesos to the account. It is unfortunate to have to calculate, to think that between four Pilsen you spend an average salary, but I have not come to correct social justice, equity, or to convince myself that the world is vile and that socialism is utopian and that, therefore, We have vegetated in a lie of a century, although the truth is that, on the other hand, I have not come looking for fun.

It will be necessary to say at this minute, however, that the breath of weekend sprees is nourished by the access to beer. Without beer, which is the same as saying without fuel, the party animal is the horse loser of the racecourse. Farra thus is little more than a wake. What is the nocturnality of a full without drinking: even for the abstainers, the day would be a cold lunch.

A beer with a 250 percent premium, above the premium that already corresponds to the state market, does nothing but clearly accentuate a difference, relegándote to the place of those who can not consume, with the prejudices that means. In the long run, one manages to give relevance to the effect of segregation or not, however, that does not mean that it eliminates its causes.

Illustration: Mayo Bous / Magazine AM: PM.
Illustration: Mayo Bous / Magazine AM: PM.

Those of the security body of the Olalá are, unlike the staff of the bar or the waitresses, mammoth blacks of rough character. While one, who brushes the two meters of height, circles the guardroom around the room, putting on his best face of few friends, another puts his Detroit cap in front of the ring of a mirror, which pays him with the satisfaction of reproducing his bombastic biceps, with which he will later try to intimidate a skinny man who warned him for the second time that videos could not be filmed inside the Olalá.

The Olalá reaches its peak of influx near midnight. A full influx in the imbalance, where, apparently, more than sixty percent are foreigners spilling the drinks, which fall to the ground and that a woman immediately cleans it with care. It is not the Caribbean disorder that predominates, but the awkward ease that alcohol causes in other latitudes.

A babelic murmur behind a glass that falls and shatters. An Italian who hugs the careless waist of a brunette Cuban who makes an effort not to break and fall from the height of his heels. A blond Cuban with another Italian about twenty years older, which forces him to follow the rhythm of a trap, which the Italian would try with nefarious results. Two stylized mulattas who came accompanied by two plump Mexicans and who preferred an area of ​​less agglomeration, where after a couple of President began to shout mariachis. Everything that surrounds me, despite being more sustained than my tired feet, seems without any firmness. A cubalibre turns on my pants and nobody, naturally except myself, warns him.

Illustration: Mayo Bous / Magazine AM: PM.
Illustration: Mayo Bous / Magazine AM: PM.

Es hora, pienso, de separarme de la barra, que poco a poco ha sido invadida. Me deslizo hasta la médula hormigueante del salón, cuando el grupo De Cuba toca en vivo un cover de Maroon 5, específicamente la canción This love.

I thought for a moment that I could, at this point, let myself be absorbed by the environment, however, I am convinced that any personal relationship with the world is ephemeral. The smell of the tourists, their best detergent wriggling among the particles of fabric, their good lotions, their perfumes that vanish the withered jasmine of Suchel Camacho, all those frivolities that we Cubans would like to have in the dressing table, become more intense and, from one moment to the next, they bore me. A foreigner lands on me with a colonizing stamp. I lose, with this, the last sigh of the last beer. The play of lights has disappeared.

"... too many times before"

Name: Bar Olalá (formerly Bar Sarao).
Address: Calle 17 esq. to E, Vedado. Havana.
Horario: Todos los días, de 12:00 m. a 3:30 a.m.
Entrance price: Variable (there are days of free entry, and others of cover with consumption included).
Beer price: 2.50 (national), 3.00 (imported) (+ 10% for the service)
Capacity: 150 people.
Modes of use of music and genres: Recorded and live music.
Urban music, popular dance, trova, fusion.
Property model: Private.

Help Magazine AM: PM remain a self-managed project with editorial independence.

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