LITTLE HAVANA, MIAMI
Little Havana, Miami, is the epicenter of Cuban food and music in Miami, and one of America’s great urban neighborhoods. In Spanish Le Pequana Habana, the district extends for nearly three miles westward from Downtown Miami and is the largest Cuban expat community in the world and a major center of Cuban and Latin American culture, music, bars and clubs, of which Ball & Chain is historically the most prominent.
Flooded with refugees from Castro’s rise to power in the 1960s, the neighborhood’s demographics soared to a population nearly 85% Hispanic by 1985. Although they have been joined by Hondurans, Guatemalans and other South and Central Americans, Cubans still make up the majority of local business owners and have left an indelible stamp on Little Havana, Miami, and Calle Ocho – not the least of which is through the city’s nightlife. For Little Havana, Miami, was and continues to be one of the most storied neighborhoods for music, dance, bars and clubs in the United States, with many venues clustered around the famed central boulevard of the Calle Ocho.
Cuban music had already arrived in the States long before the Castro period, with the best known of numerous music and dance styles being the mambo (invented by the Cuban composer Arsinio Rodriguez) and the cha-cha-cha (created by Cuban violinist Enrique Jorrin). Both spread from fashionable Havana dance halls through Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States before becoming worldwide crazes; they continue in popularity today, while the repertoire of traditional forms include boleros (ballads) trova (folk music) and son (traditional Cuban dance music).
Cuban music is still a specialty in many a Little Havana restaurant and Ball & Chain has been famed as a venue since the 1930s. As pre-Cuban nightspot, Ball & Chain was a major center for jazz and blues, with Chet Baker, Billie Holiday and Count Basie numbered among the performers. These days see a mix of old and new as Ball & Chain has been restored to its period glamour and is now a neighborhood mainstay featuring Latin music 7 days a week to complement a menu of Cuban food and cocktails. Live jazz and Latin tunes play Thursday through Saturday starting at 6 PM and every Saturday the Cuban fiesta of La Pachanga stirs up salsa rhythms in what is ranked as one of the best restaurants in Little Havana, Miami. Join us!