Baracoa has an amazingly lively, after-dark scene for a town so small. In fact, its nightlife ranks among the best in Cuba. Virtually all the clubs and live-music venues are conveniently located on a single street, Calle Antonio Maceo, making Baracoa throb most nights like a tiny, tropical New Orleans, with traditional Cuban and contemporary dance music and revelers spilling out into the street until the wee hours. The scene is especially buoyant on Saturday nights (El Sabado Baracoese), when Baracoans host a massive street party along Maceo. Unique to Baracoa are the enthusiastic animadores, or emcees, who introduce songs and bands and entertain audiences with florid language, poetry, and humor. Club cover charges are generally CUC$1 to CUC$3.
The first place to stop is the local Casa de la Trova, Maceo 149, a comfortable, well-lit place loaded with locals and featuring good bands and a gregarious emcee. If you're lucky, you'll get to hear Maravilla Yuqueña, a wonderful group with a venerable old lead singer who should be far more famous than he is. Down the street is 485, Maceo 141, with a trova-like covered patio and the livelier el Paraíso disco next-door (Tues-Sun only). Across the street, La Terraza is a huge, open-air terrace on top of a building. It has a nightly show (10pm-midnight) and full-throttle, decibel-busting music under the stars, with dancers and occasional dance contests as well as top comedians -- if your Spanish is up to it. A more sedate spot, within shouting distance of the sound system of La Terraza, is El Patio ARTex, a cute, brightly colored cafe with red lamps and a corrugated tin roof. The live music is pure Cuban son.
Indigenous Baracoan music is called Kiribá and Nengón. It predates son. You can hear this music and see a dance performance by arranging a fiesta. It's a great day out in the countryside and you'll experience tasting a great spread of local food. Contact Grupo Kiribá y Nengón (Teresa Roché; tel. 21/64-3447). Three days' notice is required and the cost is by donation.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.