Smiling in the Caribbean (Cuba)

In Cuba, Lütken and Grønkjær were arrested for spreading their smiles. After an improvised show in the poor neighbourhoods, the two Danes were led away by the local police.

During questioning it became clear that in Cuba it is strictly forbidden to perform and entertain for free in public places. Spreading free smiles was forbidden. Only Fidel Castro was allowed to make people smile.  


Arrested by the Cuban police

Relatively fast this place of sex tourism got to much, so we headed towards Cuba instead. In Havana we rented a legendary American car from before the revolution of Fidel Castro. With a retired colonel behind the steering wheel we went through the city and towards the countryside. But not until payment under the table was settled somewhere outside town, where the communist surveillance cameras couldn't catch the deal.

The authorities know everything about everyone. We couldn't understand this during our first days in the country, where we often were offered both women and drugs, but according to a local guy this is often undercover police officers trying to set people up.

In a secret meeting point we were picked up by the colonel, who cruised the road in his Chrysler Dodge. The 65 year old colonel – who had been married 11 years to a 28 year old beauty – was clearly proud of his car from 1958. He had had the car himself for 35 years.

The first stop on our ride was a small poor town, which quickly was turned upside-down, when the locals found out, that we were entertainers. Less than fifteen minutes afterwards a big part of the town was gathered around us, where they cheered to our Danish music and magic.     

The same atmosphere was present, when we later that day gave a show in one of the dodgy neighbourhoods in Havana. Just when we had ended the show, we where taken away by the Cuban police, who obviously didn't appreciate the entertainment as much as the rest of the audience.

The problem with this kind of entertainment is that the locals often like the initiative too well. In Cuba people are only allowed to have ONE hero to look up to: Fidel Castro. Moreover our crime was that we had filmed part of the show in the suburbs, which is not allowed, because Fidel only wants to show the rest of the world the nice picture of the country. This meant that while our audience looked astonished at the scene, we – two not so cocky Danish guys – were placed in the back of an old police car with three grievous officers. The video camera and our photo equipment were confiscated, all while the fear of interrogation, jail and fines ran through our heads. In a small, bare office with just enough room for the 1960 desk in the centre, where shutters in front of the windows left the room in dim light, we were interrogated by an elderly, grizzled inspector. He only spoke Spanish, which we didn't understand. At the same time, the inspector understood little, when he opened the magic suitcase to investigate the contents, while Jesper took the chance and showed the startled man a small trick.

- I didn't know, if I dared too do it, because it would probably change our situation either to a better or worse one, Jesper thought of the situation.          

But luckily it ended well, and after some waiting we were told that we were free to go. When the inspector said goodbye to us outside the station, he whispered an apology to us about having to hold us back. He let us know, that it was the regime under Castro that forced them to follow the restrictions and that it wasn't anything personal against us. 


Among 200.000 Fidel-followers

Speaking of Fidel, we actually got to see him, when we were part of a show where almost 200.000 of his followers were gathered to salute Castro's meeting with the president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez on Plaza de la Revolution.

It was amazing. Buses filled the road for miles and miles and people came running from all sides. The first ones there had waited for more than five hours, and we started out standing far far behind the 20.000 chairs, that was put up for the occasion. But after a while we had squeezed our way up in front, which meant that we ended up only 50 metres from him and we could actually see him LIVE. This was an extraordinary experience seeing one of the worlds most legendary men.     

Cuba was wonderful country, and we were taken aback by the happiness of the locals. But a local artist told us that most people live for music, dancing and sex. According to him most people are sad on the inside because life is difficult in a country, where they for example stopped changing the time during the summer and winter to save electricity, and where Christmas was cancelled in 1969 and many years ahead, because every penny was spend on development.

Nevertheless the Cubans were so friendly and forthcoming. Our smiling fairytale journey could not have ended a better place than here, where both smile and fairytale are present every day.

The day before we left, we visited the Danish show Go' aften Danmark (good evening Denmark). We will visit this show again in the end of February.


The Smiling Fairytale Society