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littlehavanaSince our voluntary banishment to the suburbs, over 14 years ago, our day-to-day contact with Miami’s environs has diminished. Especially these last few years, three kids later, the idea of a night out in the town must involve a movie, a drink, and possibly dinner within a 5 mile radius of our home. We normally hit all those marks at CineBistro and are home no later than 11:30 p.m. — a minute past 12 and we are all shot to hell.

But now and then we gingerly venture out beyond suburbia. Miami, dare I say it, has steadily developed and grown several cultural hubs in areas previously saddled by crime and neglect. The other night we visited Little Havana to meet up with an out-of-town relative. My point of reference for this neighborhood is limited to the infamous Calle Ocho Festival, Cuban food and Cuban cigars. That’s no longer the case. Today, this area is undergoing a cultural face lift which includes a vibrant art and music scene.

That night we were called forth by the sounds of a forceful “canto”  emanating from Casa Panza, a Spanish/Cuban restaurant on Calle Ocho. My husband, as his father, cannot ignore the siren’s call of a Flamenco singer. There, the vigorous hand clapping, foot stomping and commanding tenor of the Flamenco canto, tethered us to our seats. A performance was underway. The male lead singer (dressed as a female), had a keen interest in Blas. It must have been his Moorish eyes.

We came home past curfew. We didn’t complain.  We caught a small glimpse. Miami is changing, and it’s all for the better.


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