Buena Vista Social Club

BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB, Ruben Gonzalez, 1999, © Artisan Entertainment

Buena Vista Social Club was originally a members only social club in Havana, Cuba where people would gather to have drinks and enjoy live music. Despite the club closing in the 1940’s its reputation still hangs around thanks to the group of older Cuban musicians who formed a band with the same name. Throughout the film we both to get to hear the music that has been inspired by the Cuban community as well as meet the cherished members that make up the band. I loved listening to the stories told by each of the members alongside excerpts of their live performance in Amsterdam. Every musician in the Buena Vista Social Club has their own inspiring story that they share and yet every single one of them has one thing in common…a love for music that began at an incredibly young age. The musician that enticed me the most was Ruben Gonzales, a piano player born in Santa Clara in 1919. Growing up Ruben recalls having a John Stowers piano in his home where he began teaching himself how to play at the age of seven. By first grade he became so good that his mother signed him up  for formal lessons with a private teacher. The way his fingers flow effortlessly across the keys of the piano is incredible and the music that comes from it even more so. The way he recalls the story of how he first begun playing and the scene in the film where we see him playing for the young girls and boys at their gymnastics practice it is impossible to not see the pure joy that he gets when doing what he loves.

I remember as a kid wanting to learn how to play the piano because I always loved the sounds that it could create. Not having enough money to buy a piano for the house my parents suggested I learn to play the guitar instead. After attempting to learn the guitar I have a strong appreciation for those who are able to play it so effortlessly because after many many lessons I was never able to get the hang of getting the fingers on my left hand to hold down the note while the fingers on my right hand strummed them together. In the end the guitar just wasn’t for me. However, after watching this film it rekindles the desire of mine to learn the piano just as I had wanted to when I was a kid. Perhaps it’s not too late to learn a new skill, or at least give a long forgotten yearning a try.


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