When the sun goes down, you have Little Havana at night and what you get are clubs, bars, and theaters that light up, and so does the marquis of the Tower Theater.
You might find a group of old friends lighting up at one of our Miami cigar lounges or savoring their robusto at the patio of a nightclub or in their backyard. Some folks will be picking up groceries at their local bodega or supermarket, grabbing a bite to eat at one of our local restaurants, transporting a pizza by bicycle, or sipping on their favorite drink under the stars.
When the sun goes down, some residents come home from work; others leave for the night shift. Neighbors may head to English classes, dance classes, or the gym. Others sing in a candlelit setting at a church or spiritual misa (mass), communing with God, saints or spirits of the dead.
When I walk Little Havana at night, I like seeing neighbors on their balconies or front steps having a cold beer and a loud conversation. If you hear the sound of live drumming, it might be a tambor, a guiro, a cajon or a rumba. Walk down our sidewalks and you might hear the sound of dominos clacking just behind a fence.
Music emanates from local homes, including tiny apartments, and maybe it’s reggaetón, the latest bachata, a classic Cuban son, or a lively Mariachi song that inspires you to sing along. Sometimes there’s a birthday party, or a welcome party for a relative who just moved to Miami, or the celebration of a new baby. Then you see the tables set up outside, the chairs, the balloons and the streamers. You’ll smell something grilling—maybe carne asada, maybe lechón, maybe hot dogs. If the kids are lucky, there’s a bounce house. One evening I saw kids playing an old-fashioned game of tug-of-rope on the sidewalk.
Some people prefer to be alone at night. La vieja that lived next door to me liked to spend her evenings puffing on a cigar by herself as she sat on the back steps. Others strum a guitar or putter around amongst their pigeons or canaries. Some individuals like to sit with their cat or dog and gaze at the moon. Maybe they’re composing a poem or a song; maybe they’re missing a lover. Maybe they’re worried about how they’re going to pay their rent.
Sometimes the person walking or biking alone is returning from work, exhausted, and hoping that no one will assault them along the way. I don’t think anyone in the neighborhood likes the sound of sirens or helicopters. Everyone likes the melodies of the ice cream truck.
Walk by our local parks in Little Havana at night and you’ll hear the cheers or yells at a soccer, basketball or softball game, and the thud of the kicked ball, the patter of the dribbled ball or the crack of a bat before someone runs to base.
And at the laundromats, which are open late, neighbors catch up on the latest chisme while folding their shirts and pants, still warm from the dryer.