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BomBom the Reggaeton Clown

February 2nd, 2011  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  2 Comments

Sure, it took a couple of years, but the video companion to my somewhat autobiographical Time article from Havana finally went up at time.com. I’m posting it here because I’m a notorious self-pimper, and because I love the guys I used to play music with there. Geopolitics is a bitch, and it has kept us out of contact for many years, so much so that I got a little misty when video editor Natasha del Toro first showed me a cut of this video. She did an amazing job piecing together several hours worth of b-roll that I shot on my old Panasonic camcorder.

The video is also a bit relevant for DadWagon because there is a great, if brief, child-dance scene from the Havana zoo at around the 1:00 mark (teaser: BomBom the Reggaeton clown pulls some small children from the stage and they know just what to shake).

For as much as I love the islands, and as much as I try to get my children to spend time in Key West, where I’m from, we are just not Carribbean. My bloodline runs through the shtetl and the North German heide (a word that conveniently means ‘a heath or moor’ and “gentile”). As I relayed in my article from Havana, one friend’s assessment of my dancing was simply: you have Carribbean feet, but I have no idea what your butt is doing. My wife is Hispanic, but that’s through Mexico, which isn’t the home of timba either: she used to dance Ballet Folklorico, but that’s way more prim and formal than what the Cubans do these days.

So my children will never dance like the boys in this video (or the older girl, who is the daughter of a friend of mine who is an actual professional dancer). It’s not just genetic (though it’s certainly that). It’s that we fill their time with enriching activities that don’t involve the hips. We spend way too much energy trying to get them to quiet their bodies and minds.

And that’s alright. Because I am pretty sure they wouldn’t know what to do if BomBom the Reggaeton clown had pulled them up to that stage in Havana, but they would’ve had fun anyway.


  1. john speck says:

    February 2nd, 2011at 2:49 pm(#)

    Amazing piece, Nate! Thank you for sending chills up my spine and bringing tears to my eyes.

    I can’t believe “El Tropical” is still there. ‘Mundo’ The Third Trombone player from Los Van Van invited me to El Tropical during “el son mas largo del mundo” in ’97. Luckily, they don’t have VIP, so the VIPs get to stand on stage and keep the musicians’ amigas dancing. I was in heaven.

    It is amazing that people can maintain such grace in the face of such dour circumstance.


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