• Melissa Mansfield

Reggaeton Dancing in the Streets of Havana


I went back to #Havana for a month-long visit in April and had a bunch of goals in mind. Take lots of photos and videos and post on Instagram every day! Plan a trip to Matanzas and study rumba! But as it often goes in #Cuba, those plans fell aside, and new experiences popped up.


I found that my month in Havana was more about RELAXING and spending time with people. Once I let go of productivity-minded goals, I found that I just did what I wanted to, and all of the right people started flowing into my life. Tons of contacts for Follow My Lead - for the TV show, for future itineraries - as well as just meeting up with fans of the series. (More on that later.)


It was a new experience being in Havana and allowing myself to not have to "work" all the time like I did when producing Season 1.


But there was one goal I did come up with that I followed through on, and I'm so glad I did. I decided to take some #reggaeton classes with Ana Rosa Curbelo Martinez at La Casa del Son. I asked her if we could build on choreography each class (five classes total) and then do a video of our "performance" at the end.


I was always so intimidated by Ana Rosa. She's this tall, sexy, confident and fierce dancer and I had never taken classes with her until right before I left Havana in December. And she is all of those things, but she is also SO sweet! Incredibly warm and funny. She challenged me but we laughed a lot too.

So on the day of our last class, I was actually feeling REALLY nervous. I had barely practiced at home. Like, maybe a total of 15 minutes. I was feeling guilty about being so "unproductive". I was worried about messing up and looking stupid. And during the last class, she taught me about seven more 8-counts! I was not sure that I was going to remember them when it came time to shoot.


But, my friend Isabel was already there to shoot it, and I had even put on a little makeup and worn some earrings, so it was showtime.


And the "shoot" wound up being hilarious. Mostly because everything that could happen on a Cuban street corner basically happened in those two and a half minutes. (And although it's not exactly the pinnacle of my dance abilities, what I managed wasn't half bad, especially considering how quickly we did everything, how little I had practiced without a mirror (once), and all of the distractions.)


Take a look, and let me know: What "Cuba moments" can you spot?! Mine are below :)


** Cuba moments **

  • Cubans and foreigners meandering through the street, barely giving us a passing glance.

  • Cubans hanging out in their doorways, watching the street scene.

  • A classic car taxi passing by (just as our choreography and music changed at the perfect moment!).

  • Bicitaxis in the street, as well as a galleta cart (sells bread, crackers and/or pastries).

  • And, the amazing old man with the incredible leg injury/defect who limped by in the beginning - right between us! I see him all of the time in Vieja and am amazed by his tenacity.

  • Plus - blasting reggaeton in the street? That's life in Havana.


© Follow My Lead and Melissa Mansfield 2010 - 2018

Photo credits: Sophia Heinke and Diana Manning

  • Black YouTube Icon
  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon