Dayana Chávez Victoria, the slender girl wearing tennis shoes runners and wore a black lycra and a tight pullover did not seem at first glance the reggaeton diva that appears in public. Except for the mole that it has on the lip and a certain accent between Camagüey, Havana and Puerto Rican, I did not find any more features of the character that incarnates in Miss Dayana.
What I had before me, during the two hours we talked, was a normal girl who did not stop playing with the long lock of blond hair that came out of the center of her head and fell below her waist.
For her it all started in Siboney, a small town of less than five thousand inhabitants located thirty kilometers from Camagüey, where she spent her childhood dancing in the House of Culture or playing basketball, because singing was very embarrassing, and every time she tried on a stage he ended up crying.
First was the dance. Dayana lived with her grandparents, and when she discovered the carnival car she was hit so hard that she got on it early and did not get off until the pre-university in the municipality of Guáimaro. But the experience of the pre would not last long, since shortly after starting he would find out that the ENA was doing dance auditions, and he did not think twice.
"What I was dancing at that time was peasant music and casino wheels. I had participated in festivals of amateur artists, we did very nice things, but I did not have a great preparation or technique, I just danced and I loved it, "he says.
The singing would come much later; although as a child she spent hours watching the same concerts of Michael Jackson and Madonna that she had recorded on VHS, she still did not know if it was the songs or the show that attracted her the most.
He entered the ENA, with no other setbacks than those of coming "from the street", as the students who did not have previous training are called in art schools. "The first years were very difficult, because I did not have the proper physical preparation, and I also had deficiencies in technical issues, but with a lot of work I improved it, and I graduated with good results," he says.
Until then Miss Dayana reguetonera had not appeared, which to this day still seems a bit strange to the Dayana in front of me. But in school, with little more than 16 years old, Adriano DJ met, who worked there and began to organize parties throughout Havana.
Dayana and Adriano started a relationship that we could name friendship, but obviously it is not a relationship either. More than a decade since she met, she considers him one of the most important people in her life, along with her grandmother perhaps. He told me in a moment that he was the friend and the most artist he knows. He took her to reggaeton, participates in almost all his decisions, we could say that he accompanies her almost always. To talk to her, we first had to contact him. The conversation was at home, because the young lady was living there during those days because she had her under construction. Both houses are located less than 200 meters.
When she graduated he started his Havaneando project, which she named after him inspired by the movie Havana Blues. Shortly after he dedicated himself to direct the shows of these parties, to create the choreography, and Dayana's life became a whirlpool, from which she would finally sing.
When she graduated, forced to earn a living in a city that is not big, but much more than her native Siboney, she started dancing in a peasant music group that played in tourist places, and in the absence of the main singer one day he had to cover that position.
"I had a fear that I was dying, and so I sang Capullito de Alelí", remember. "It was fatal, but the guys in the group encouraged me, they told me I was fine. Then I decided to find a singing teacher, and soon after I enrolled in the Mariana de Gonich school. "
What she does not tell me is that at that time she also enrolled in the career of Social Communication at the University of Havana, and that Adriano went to listen one afternoon to the house of culture of Plaza where she played Do not cry for me Argentina and it moved him so much that he ended up crying.
A few days later he appeared with a kind of background and asked him to write a letter, and then to sing it. In two hours Dayana had already made a song, which she would sing the following day on the television program Connection. It was his first appearance in the media as an interpreter. He remembers it as "a disaster, but hey, they are things that one has to go through".
The next thing he did was to collaborate with William El Magnífico, that character who had a noisy but brief passage through the Cuban reggaeton, in the songs produced by Adriano for the summers of 2011 and 2012. Still those species of jingles Caribbean, a terrible mix of pop, reggaeton and electronic music that happened just unnoticed can be traced, with a little work, in the awesome YouTube database.
From there Dayana inherited the Miss, and flirted with urban music for the first time, but this type of music did not fall in love.
And everything stopped suddenly, because he went to live in Spain at a time when things were taking shape in his life. She does not tell me the reasons why she left, according to her personal, but she makes it clear that the trip, as she had planned, was only one way. For some strange reason after 5 months in Europe he could not take it anymore and returned to Havana.
Upon his arrival he decided to resume his musical career. He contacted Adriano immediately, sold some of his most valuable items and went to a recording studio, to produce his first album, with a pop style and some R & B influences. The phonogram was nominated to Cubadisco, and although he did not win, he considers it one of his greatest professional satisfactions.
At that time he began to give concerts at the Amelia, a small disco located in Miramar, then went to La Maison, a little more reputed among Havana nightclubs. The audience was not very big, but faithful. There, in addition to his songs, he dared to interpret that of other artists such as Adele or Thalía.
Urban music was not very attractive, even now when asked about his favorite artists he will mention Coldplay, Adele, Shakira, Imagine Dragons, Habana de Primera, Leoni Torres. Her move to reggaeton was slow and full of conflicts, but it was the only place where Adriano could help her, get her featurings, spaces to sing, spread their topics.
On one occasion, while talking with Adriano, he told me how difficult it is to convince Dayana, the level of argumentation that must be used, all the time it can take. When I asked if reggaeton was like that, they both smiled; that's exactly what they were talking about.
Finally they decided for it, where Miss Dayana has shown a position much closer to the Puerto Rican Ivy Queen that the popular Karol G or Naty Nathasha. With the first, despite not having a friendly relationship, has exchanged cordially through social networks, and that makes her proud.
After a long time singing in small spaces, sometimes for friends and a small audience, Dayana still did not feel the taste of success. She thought that if she recorded a reggaeton song they would never take it seriously anymore, but it was just the other way around. It began with a song with El Chacal, who agreed to sing with her at Adriano's request, and so it appeared The liar, issue that marked a break in his career.
"It was a boom. I went from having a rock for 200 people to being called from many places in Cuba to do concerts. That's another thing. I did not start making urban music yet, I continued with the previous thing, but people started to know me more, and the artists called me, "he tells me.
After that first song with El Chacal, she stayed in the studio. "Maybe it would put a little more rhythm to the songs," she says, "I started doing electronic meringue, little things more mixed with cumbia, urban as such, no. Is that in fact to this day when I write a song does not come out urban, I do not get that melody. Then when I go to the studio with Adriano and the music producer, he is given more of the line we are working on, but what I write tells Adriano that it is short veins. "
Then there was a song that for Dayana and many of her fans is a kind of hymn. I mean Single, a song composed by El Taiger at the request of Adriano to sing a duet. The former member of Los 4, after writing the lyrics, sent a kind of demo to the young lady, who was convinced, after listening to him, that they had to record it.
That song placed it, at least, on the Cuban reggaeton map. Miss Dayana began to listen to the almendrones, the cafeterias, the guaguas. His music is commercial, and therefore, the goal is none other than having the largest audience, which requires a worthy record of the players of his favorite sport, basketball. With dunk once is not enough, you can not stop shooting the hoop. Even if you have a song playing everywhere, you have to think about the next one. "The race is tough, [with] sacrifices for lots, and a lot of perseverance, perseverance and work," he tells me about it.
After these two themes Dayana was discovered as a kind of female spokesperson. "We are not just a piece of meat, sexy, beautiful, ready to arrive at the time you want and nothing happens. We also have the right to defend ourselves, to desire, to love just like men. Everything is in daring to say it, and it is what has happened with my career, that I have said what women want to say and do not dare. They see me as that, the defender of women, and I love it. "
Even so, whoever tries to look for a manual feminist or a macho feminist disguised as a feminist in Dayana, or look for politically correct and prefabricated positions, loses her time. Dayana was, at least with me, a sincere woman. Neither naive nor cautious.
In his music he usually maintains a defensive posture from the woman, but he confesses that it is because the audience liked that projection, and if that works for him, it would be silly to do something else. It is enough to understand that Single, his most iconic song in that sense, was not even written by her. On the other hand, she says she would not accept a song where her image is that of the submissive woman, who, beyond the market, would not play that role.
In a television interview in Miami he is asked about equal marriage, about whether he thinks it should be approved. She says yes, that everyone should be happy, then confesses that she has never had a homosexual relationship. Finally, he adds that he does not rule out that at some point he has it, that he does not close doors, only that until now he has not.
She tells me that being a woman and a singer is complicated. Not only in reggaeton, but in any genre, that women are not usually fans of women and yet men do not have problems with being fans of other men. It is also questioned that men, with how badly they are treated, are their main fans. Throughout the conversation he never mentions the word feminism or the word machismo.
The night before our meeting was twelve hours in a photo session. Sometimes he has to go to hairdressers and stylists to do promotions. He did not like it before, but he's got used to it. Consider that getting pretty is part of any woman's life.
It is curious that Dayana - who projects the image of a strong, aggressive woman at first sight - can not contain the tears. She cries a lot, cries practically in all her interviews, at the end of her concerts, when she learned that she had been invited to participate in the Premios Juventud, when she talks about her grandmother, her family who still lives in Siboney. He has a hard time controlling his emotions, and he gets upset with it, "but he's cute," he tells me.
This time she cried when we talked about her family, who received her in the house as if they received a celebrity, when we talked about her followers in social networks, which are approximately 20 times the number of inhabitants of her hometown, but when she cried the most in a concert, not in Miami or in Havana, but in Camajuaní, where he had to stop singing because he could not contain his tears when he heard the audience sing their songs.
Within the scene of the Cuban reguxetón is today the main female exponent. The only urban artist on the island who has participated in an event such as the Premios Juventud. She is respected and recognized by her colleagues of the genre, with whom she sometimes finds it difficult to make friends because of her shyness, she tells me.
In one of his last songs, entitled You Shock, Dayana is presented as a woman who achieved success. In the video, surrounded by figures of the genre such as El Chacal, Jacob Forever and El Micha, the young lady says: "It shocks you that it is thriving / it strikes you that it suits me / it shocks you that none of this you / must hit you I'm traveling / and back to Havana / and to follow it / and have a show every weekend / it hits you, I have men and women crazy / it hits you, to take a theme for the street and I shut your mouth / you collide, you have to copy me to the clothes / you crash, I know you're my fan, it shows. "
But that's what the young lady says, because Dayana, sitting in front of me, confesses that she still has a hard time believing what she has achieved, that she is much more than she imagined, but less than she pretends. He tells me that every morning he looks in the mirror and thinks "who was going to tell you, guajira".