Remix Culture Without Internet: Going Deep with Havana’s Top DJs and Producers

Electronic music is part of a new world order, fueled by technology, which transcends language and geo-political borders to globally unite us based on common values and shared experience.

In Cuba, electronic music is one way to break through the pervading feeling of isolation that haunts the island nation thanks to the embargo, but more so by the utter lack of affordable internet. Remix culture is, at its core, a celebration of different cultures coming together. DJs download samples of music on the internet from artists living across the globe, but DJs from Cuba must wait on artists visiting them from other counties.

Meeting Joyvan ‘DJoy de Cuba’ Guevara was enlightening. He lived in a small apartment above the outdoor market and was easily the most influential event producer I had ever met. Rotilla brought ~30,000 attendants to its fantasy playground – for free.

His beliefs were similar to my own, that art must be motivated by a courageous act of unity as opposed to the wild goose chase of money in the big-stage festival world. His passion for bringing electronic to el pueblo has driven him to his series of urban interventions.

“The people who pass by will hear it. Cubans are very curious and to hear music that is strange to them… and to have children listen to it, in a park maybe… like that.  I want to plug in, see if the police come, and then say “its okay I’ll turn it off.'”

On a balmy April night in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood, youth were drawn into the street by the soulful beats and experienced a kind of spontaneous celebration you would only see in Cuba.

As I dove deeper into the scene, I attended aire libre parties in Gaudi inspired castles near the Almendares river, closet-like subterranean nightclubs choking with smoke, and even a rave in a government run casa de cultura! The DJs and Producers behind these parties, while differing vastly in wealth, race, and gender shared a passion for providing this united experience for free to their incredibly dedicated fans.

I brought back a selection of music to share, since these artists do not have work online.

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