portfolio > Cuba + Puerto Rico | Invitación a Volar

3min excerpt of a 20min performance
conceived and performed by Ian Deleón & Anabel Vázquez for Mobius' SPEED event @ Studio Soto in South Boston, MA
documentation by Daniel S. DeLuca & Michal Shapiro
period clothing by Bobby From Boston

The title of the performance was inspired by the Prohibition-era tune of the same name, written by Irving Berlin, which enticed U.S. citizens to dodge the Volstead Act by visiting nearby Cuba, "where wine is flowing...where all is happy...where all is gay". The broader historical context of these lyrics include: advertorial cooperations between the transatlantic companies Bacardí (then based in Cuba) and Pan Am airlines; the ongoing colonial status of Cuba and Puerto Rico under U.S. governance; a lack of sensitivity in popular culture to the uniqueness of the many colonized territories of the U.S. empire; the forced economic dependency of the “West Indies” created through the production and exportation of the sugar cane monoculture; the inevitable presence of U.S. organized crime syndicates in Cuba/their ties to the Batista regime; and the indifference of the Caribbean bourgeoisie amidst the revolutionary fervor that would eventually cause a rift (mediated and stoked by the U.S.) between Socialist Cuba and the "Commonwealth" of Puerto Rico.

With these themes in mind, Vázquez and Deleón personify their respective lands of origin in an allegorical melodrama of dance, evoking the memory of a time in which dancing pressed-up against a partner was seen as “a clear expression of the lasciviousness and sexual promiscuity characteristic of African culture”, during the post-war U.S. occupations.

Donning period evening wear and grotesque facial representations of themselves, the artists courted and parted from each other, aloof to their surroundings, to the tune of these melancholic and nostalgic songs:

"Midnight, the Stars and You" by Al Bowlly, from the 1980 film, The Shining
"Quizás, Quizás, Quizás" by El Trío Los Panchos
"En Mi Viejo San Juan" by Trío Vegabajeño
"Acércate Más" by Eydie Gormé
"Nosotros" by Eydie Gormé & El Trío Los Panchos
"Follow Me" by Bronislaw Kaper, from the 1962 film, Mutiny on the Bounty

- featured in Volume 3 of Emergency Index: An annual document of performance practice, purchase a copy here.

"I'll See You in C-U-B-A"