Havana Youth: Q&A with Greg Kahn


Photographer Greg Kahn’s new book explores youth culture in Cuba.

Greg Kahn was sitting at his fixer’s house in Cuba one night when he heard the thump of a bass beat echoing through the streets. He wandered outside, where he found a plaza with hundreds of kids dancing to electronic music. “It was current music that I had been listening to in the States,” Kahn said. “It just totally flipped that idea of everything that Cuba is.” Khan points to this moment as the foundation for his work over the next two years, and the subject of his new book “Havana Youth” (Yoffy Press).


“Havana Youth” (Yoffy Press)

“Havana Youth” is the DC-based freelancer’s first book, and its pages reveal the color and vibrancy of young Cuban society, brought to life by Khan’s meticulous attention to detail and intimate portraiture.

“This generation is changing that notion of what people think about Cuba,” Khan said. “That’s what I wanted to document.”

Roads & Kingdoms: How has the wider Cuban community reacted to this work?

Greg Kahn: I’ve received a lot of really positive feedback from people about the book, especially Cubans who escaped to the United States. People who are part of that other generation that might not have the connection back to Cuba—the people who left and have been waiting for the Castro regime to pass away and move on. They see this and think it is really interesting because they don’t have a connection to young people there anymore. They’re not able to see this part of it.


Cuban teens have a smoke during a pool party at Miramar Chateau, a hotel near the beach in Havana.

R&K: What do these young people want for their future and where do they see their country going?

GK: I think the most striking thing for me was that the narrative is typically that Cubans want to leave and come to the U.S. There are a lot that do, but I’m seeing a change in the mentality—that young people no longer look at leaving Cuba as the answer, but want to stay and make it the place they want. I think that’s a huge mind shift from previous generations.

There’s this guy, he’s a self-taught tailor, and breakdancer in one of these dance troupes. He’s got family members in Germany and Canada. He has every ability to leave Cuba legally and go live with them, but he doesn’t want to. He said “This is the place I want to be and I want to make Cuba the place that I dream about.”

Cubans realize that they live in a unique place and they are really embracing that. They’re not burdened by the past. They grew up when there were rolling blackouts, lack of food, and in a terrible economy. They have no illusions of the government providing. They’ve been establishing a counter-culture around it, and they’ve been able to do the things they still want to do outside of the government’s reach.

R&K: What types of changes have stuck out to you over the years of photographing in Cuba?

GK: I think the fashion scene has changed significantly. When I first started going, there was still very limited access to the kinds of clothing that they would see in the magazines. As one fashion blogger told me, “We used to look at these magazines and say, ‘Oh man. I wish I had something like that.’ Now they look at the magazine and say, “Okay. I’m going to get these things,” because there are now routes to get these things, whether it’s through Europe or somebody bringing it in from the States, but it’s no longer, “Oh there’s the outside world. I wish I could have these things.” It’s like, “No. No. No. It’ll take me longer. It’ll be a little bit more money, but I can have anything that I see here.” Now they’re developing a whole fashion scene that’s really exploding. I think it will, if it’s not already on the map in some places, be there very soon.


Yosmel Azcuy, 28, a professional breakdancer, holds hands with his wife, Guirmaray Silva, 29, as they wait for the electricity to come back on in their apartment in Havana. These power outages can occur weekly because of a crumbling infastructure.


1: Pompi, 26, member of the Havana Queens dance company. 2: Pompi, 26, a self-taught tailor, sews fabric for his dance company.

R&K: How is the internet effecting change?

GK: The internet’s a big deal everywhere. It’s a big deal here where we always want faster internet speed or whatever, but they’re basically just above dial-up in most places. Imagine being a musician trying to download music on dial-up. It’s nearly impossible. You can’t have an Apple Music account. You can’t have a Spotify account.

It would take these two DJs I met around 20 minutes to download one song. People in the U.S. get annoyed if it doesn’t start immediately on streaming. Because of this, people bring in hard drives from the outside loaded up with music. They always find ways around this kind of stuff.

There’s this thing called El Paquete (“the packet”), which is a hard drive or flash drive that gets passed around, and people pay a subscription fee for it. They have NFL games, movies, Telanovelas, music, and other cultural stuff. It lives in the gray area—not illegal, but not legal. It’s not legal in the sense that they’re putting all kinds of things on there, and they’re giving it to the people, but the government lets it slide because there’s no propaganda on there against the government. You balance this fine line. As long as you’re not upsetting the government, they’ll let it slide.


Young Cubans gather along the Malecon in Havana to show off their latest fashion, listen to music, and party.

R&K: What about social media?

GK: Instagram is huge now, but it started off being Facebook. I would see Cubans hop on Facebook immediately. Say a dance group was touring Europe, all of a sudden my Facebook feed would be full of them at McDonalds or whatever because this is the first time they’ve ever had a Super Sized meal. But now, I think Instagram has really taken over too, which is just going to show you that they’re on the same kind of level as the rest of us. They’re not catching up anymore. They’re here.

They’re doing the same kind of stuff, but from a very different perspective. I’m seeing them repost a lot of artists or interesting accounts that they see. For example, this fashion blogger I follow is posting photos from shoots that he does all around Cuba. It is high-fashion photography. It is so wild to see it, because if you look at his account, you might think that he’s in Miami, but it is the way that he sees Cuba. The way that he interprets Cuba is not the way that most people see Cuba.

R&K: Are these parts of the culture clashing at all with others part of Cuban society?

GK: Cubans who work for the government make around 20 dollars a month, but these models are making way more. The dance troupes make way more. That’s why I ended up in a lot of the music and art spaces. That’s where people are making more money than typical jobs. That’s where I ended up going because that’s where there’s a lot of freedom. That’s where there’s a lot more ability to do the thing that you want to do, or buy a house or travel to Europe. If you’re with a dance troupe you might be able to travel to Europe for four months. Most other people don’t have that access. As an engineer in Cuba you don’t have the ability to go do that.


Breakdancers warm up for an exhibition dance battle in front of Catedral Del Picadillo, a multi-purpose center in the Havana neighborhood of Jaimanitas.

R&K: How do you view your role among the cliches of photography and Cuba?

GK: For a long time, Cuba was in a place where you had to sneak into the country to tell these stories. There was very little information coming out. Now with the connectivity that we have, things are opening up and we have the  ability to see a larger section of Cuba.

It’s not to say that they don’t have crumbling buildings. It’s not to say that they don’t have a lot of old cars. But that’s not what I wanted to focus on, because I know people see that image. I’m not adding anything to that. If I take pictures of cars and old buildings, then I’m just following the same narrative. I want to do something that’s going to add to the conversation.

I want to have something that talked about this point in time for people there. I really honestly feel like we’re going to look back to this time period as when Cuba fundamentally changed forever. I think the Obama administration helped that happen by changing the relationship. I know we’ve taken ten steps back, but I think that we are going to look back and say this was a changing point in Cuba. I wanted something that kind of marked that time and showed that.

Everything is changing there, and it’s all happening kind of at once. You don’t see it because it’s not changing the buildings straight up. It’s not changing the old cars straight up. This visual that confronts you when you step off the plane is that it all looks the same, but as soon as you start to go inside people’s homes, as soon as you start to go out to some of the clubs, you see those changes very quickly and you see it reflected in the people there. So that’s what I wanted to stick with—that notion that, if I remove all those other things that keep Cuba feeling like it’s stuck in that same place, what does Cuba look like? I wanted to play with that idea of this rise in identity and individualism.



1: Marina Alfonso, 21, is a recent graduate from the University of Havana, where she majored in history. 2: Gabriel Garcia works as a model and helps run a dance studio in Havana. He, like many young Cubans, wants more access to travel. But in a break from previous generations, he wants to live in Cuba.

R&K: How do the people you talk with feel in the current political situation being played by the U.S. government?

GK: They’ve had a lot of terrible governments to deal with, so it’s hard to wow them. They say, “Yeah. Hold on a second. I’ve got 50 years of terrible governance to talk to you about.” They see the current administration and they say, “Yeah, that’s what governments are. They’re oppressive and they suck.”

They loved Obama. The way that he tried to change the relationship, they were all about it.

R&K: Have you thought about any continuation of this book?

GK: Yeah, I love the idea of going back and exploring more of that fashion angle. There’s a huge modeling industry that’s coming up, huge fashion designers, and people who manufacture their own stuff.

There are a lot of people who are trying to manufacture very boutique kinds of things, trying to design their own clothing, and have their own fashion shows with the stuff and the materials that they can import. Those are really interesting, because it speaks to that very fundamental idea of individuality. I want to see what that looks like in Cuba from a designer’s perspective and then go with the fashion blogger to see theirs.



Source link

758 Replies to “Havana Youth: Q&A with Greg Kahn”

  1. I must express my appreciation for your generosity in support of folks who have the need for assistance with the subject matter. Your special dedication to getting the solution around turned out to be remarkably invaluable and has consistently made individuals much like me to attain their goals. Your entire invaluable advice can mean this much to me and even further to my office workers. With thanks; from all of us.

  2. Thank you a lot for giving everyone remarkably nice chance to read from this site. It is always very amazing and stuffed with a great time for me personally and my office acquaintances to search your blog at minimum thrice weekly to see the new things you have got. And definitely, I’m at all times motivated with all the extraordinary suggestions you give. Certain 2 tips on this page are absolutely the very best we have had.

  3. I precisely had to appreciate you again. I’m not certain what I would have gone through in the absence of the actual methods shown by you concerning this area of interest. It truly was the alarming case in my position, nevertheless considering a specialized tactic you treated that made me to weep with gladness. Now i’m thankful for the support and even pray you recognize what an amazing job you are always undertaking instructing other individuals through the use of a web site. Probably you haven’t encountered all of us.

  4. I just wanted to jot down a quick note to express gratitude to you for all the amazing ways you are giving at this site. My considerable internet research has at the end been compensated with excellent concept to go over with my friends and family. I would state that that many of us readers are unquestionably blessed to live in a very good website with so many special people with great advice. I feel somewhat fortunate to have encountered your entire webpage and look forward to really more fun times reading here. Thanks once more for everything.

  5. My wife and i ended up being very peaceful when Louis could round up his researching from your precious recommendations he discovered in your web pages. It’s not at all simplistic to simply possibly be offering thoughts that many a number of people have been trying to sell. We recognize we have the website owner to give thanks to for this. The type of explanations you have made, the easy blog menu, the relationships you make it easier to engender – it’s got mostly extraordinary, and it is helping our son and our family consider that the matter is excellent, which is certainly incredibly important. Thanks for the whole thing!

  6. I wanted to write you a very little note to help give many thanks over again for all the wonderful knowledge you’ve featured in this article. This is quite remarkably open-handed with you to grant publicly precisely what a lot of folks might have advertised for an electronic book in making some money for themselves, mostly now that you could possibly have tried it if you desired. Those secrets additionally acted to become a good way to realize that other individuals have the same eagerness much like my very own to realize significantly more concerning this condition. I believe there are thousands of more enjoyable situations up front for people who browse through your website.

  7. Perfect update of captchas breaking package “XRumer 19.0 + XEvil”:

    Captcha breaking of Google (ReCaptcha-2 and ReCaptcha-3), Facebook, BitFinex, Bing, Hotmail, SolveMedia, Yandex,
    and more than 12000 another subtypes of captchas,
    with highest precision (80..100%) and highest speed (100 img per second).
    You can use XEvil 5.0 with any most popular SEO/SMM software: iMacros, XRumer, SERP Parser, GSA SER, RankerX, ZennoPoster, Scrapebox, Senuke, FaucetCollector and more than 100 of other programms.

    Interested? There are a lot of introducing videos about XEvil in YouTube.

    FREE DEMO AVAILABLE!

    See you later!

  8. I have to show my appreciation to you just for bailing me out of this particular matter. Just after exploring through the the net and obtaining ways that were not beneficial, I assumed my entire life was well over. Living without the strategies to the difficulties you have sorted out all through the website is a serious case, and ones which may have negatively damaged my entire career if I hadn’t encountered your website. Your personal competence and kindness in dealing with all the things was helpful. I am not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t encountered such a thing like this. I can also at this point look ahead to my future. Thanks a lot very much for the skilled and result oriented guide. I will not be reluctant to endorse your site to anybody who requires tips on this subject.

  9. I want to express my admiration for your kind-heartedness giving support to men and women that have the need for guidance on this study. Your personal dedication to passing the solution up and down has been particularly informative and has all the time made individuals just like me to realize their desired goals. Your interesting help can mean a lot a person like me and extremely more to my colleagues. Regards; from all of us.

  10. I must express my appreciation to this writer just for bailing me out of this condition. Just after surfing through the internet and finding basics which were not pleasant, I thought my entire life was done. Existing without the answers to the problems you have fixed by means of your main report is a serious case, and the ones that might have in a negative way affected my entire career if I hadn’t noticed your blog. Your main skills and kindness in dealing with all areas was very helpful. I am not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t come upon such a subject like this. I am able to at this point look ahead to my future. Thanks a lot very much for your high quality and sensible help. I will not think twice to endorse your blog post to anybody who will need tips about this subject.

  11. I definitely wanted to write down a comment to thank you for all the pleasant points you are posting at this site. My rather long internet search has now been recognized with useful points to go over with my contacts. I would state that that most of us visitors actually are extremely blessed to be in a remarkable site with very many perfect individuals with very helpful suggestions. I feel somewhat fortunate to have encountered the website page and look forward to tons of more excellent moments reading here. Thank you again for everything.

  12. Revolutional update of captcha regignizing software “XEvil 5.0”:

    Captchas recognition of Google (ReCaptcha-2 and ReCaptcha-3), Facebook, BitFinex, Bing, Hotmail, SolveMedia, Yandex,
    and more than 12000 another subtypes of captcha,
    with highest precision (80..100%) and highest speed (100 img per second).
    You can use XEvil 5.0 with any most popular SEO/SMM programms: iMacros, XRumer, SERP Parser, GSA SER, RankerX, ZennoPoster, Scrapebox, Senuke, FaucetCollector and more than 100 of other software.

    Interested? There are a lot of impessive videos about XEvil in YouTube.

    FREE DEMO AVAILABLE!

    See you later 😉

  13. Вы можете получить бездепозитный бонус в любом из казино которые предоставлены на сайте, мы стараемся отбирать казино с максимально низким вейджером, чтобы при выигрыше вам не пришлось слишком долго отыгрывать ваш бонус.В нашей таблице есть исключительно честные казино, которые всегда выплатят ваш выигрыш и не важно насколько большая будет эта сумма. https://all.casino-profit.pro/nodep-bonuses.html Подходите к выбору казино правильно!

  14. Подборка эксклюзивных, уникальных и по-настоящему щедрых бездепозитных бонусов за регистрацию для всех игроков онлайн-казино 2020 года https://all.casino-profit.pro/freespins.html За простую регистрацию онлайн казино дарит реальные деньги на ваш счет!

  15. видео где люди сексом, размещенные на нашем ресурсе, настолько прекрасны, что выбор будет сделать совсем не просто, но выбрав самую развратную красотку-путану, она воплотит в реальность самые смелые сексуальные фантазии.

  16. САмое эффективное для продаж – Pinterest. Смотрите Видео пример продаж: Сотни Продаж на Etsy, amazon, ebay, shopify за 2 месяца при ср.цене чека 300 usd https://youtu.be/GNOZtXGGM-I


  17. Свежедобытые майлы для брута / почтового спама и аналогично других Ваших целей.
    Мгновенное получение онлайн. Онлайн Телеграм бот автопродаж @HelpBot24_bot
    В продаже базы данных в формате майл-+-pass с доступом по ИМАП / POP3 / SMTP
    Mail листы различных стран специально для рассылки Ваших предложений / спама
    С нами Доходно вести сотрудничество!
    Постоянным заказчикам значимые особые условия!
    В любой момент в продаже свежайшие базы, а кроме того инструменты для их более эффективного применения
    В случае, если востребованны выборки по определенным странам, пишите по контактным данным телеграм бота
    Выдача в режиме online после завершения расчета. Посодействуем с требуемым приватным программным комплексом

  18. Hi,

    I am contacting you today because i have Jackpotbetonline.com site for advertising.

    Please check the website where you place link or article post.

    Jackpotbetonline.com are evryday updated & have good Domain Autority (DA=62) & Good Domain Rating (DR=72).

    The Following advertising Options are available:

    Text Link Space
    Article post (Max of 3 links per article)
    Advertising Banner Space (460×60 or 250×250)
    Best ” Online casino Slots ” Review

    Regards,

  19. Изготовление светильников.
    Компания постоянно развивается и улучшает нашу продукцию, поэтому возможно изменение размеров, конструкции и комплектации представленных моделей при сохранении или улучшении функциональных и технических характеристик.
    Разработка МАФов для комплексного благоустройства города (скамейки уличные парковые, урны, вазоны.

    Производство уличного освещения – это важная часть проекта. Выбор фонарей для улицы
    Особенности уличного освещения парка имеет свои определенные характеристики.

  20. комплексный ремонт квартир и офисов

    комплексный ремонт квартир самара
    еткс рабочий по комплексному обслуживанию и ремонту зданий и сооружений
    обязанности рабочего по комплексному обслуживанию и ремонту зданий
    рабочий по комплексному обслуживанию и ремонту здания
    комплексный ремонт квартир домов офисов

  21. Профессиональная Реклама Серых тем, Казино онлайн, Casino online, Gaming Звоните: Telegram @evg7773

  22. Incredible update of captcha recognition package “XEvil 5.0”:

    Captchas solving of Google (ReCaptcha-2 and ReCaptcha-3), Facebook, BitFinex, Bing, MailRu, SolveMedia, Hydra,
    and more than 12000 another categories of captchas,
    with highest precision (80..100%) and highest speed (100 img per second).
    You can use XEvil 5.0 with any most popular SEO/SMM software: iMacros, XRumer, SERP Parser, GSA SER, RankerX, ZennoPoster, Scrapebox, Senuke, FaucetCollector and more than 100 of other software.

    Interested? You can find a lot of demo videos about XEvil in YouTube.

    FREE DEMO AVAILABLE!

    See you later 😉
    P.S. A Huge Discount -30% for XEvil full version until 15 Jan is AVAILABLE! 🙂

    XEvil Net

  23. What’s Going down i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It absolutely useful and it has aided me out loads. I am hoping to give a contribution & aid other customers like its aided me. Good job.|