By Hingman Leung
Westboro Beach has a secret and intimate feel, maybe because of its small size, or because it’s hidden from passing views behind a stand of trees. It’s cozy, it’s a great place to see the sunset, and the beach is only a short bus or bike ride from downtown.
There are many reasons why Westboro Beach is a neighbourhood gem, and the most exciting reason of all is the live music beach parties that the Beach Cafe hosts throughout summertime.
Fiesta Cubana, a local Cuban band, has been transforming Westboro Beach into a festive Cuban outpost on Thursday evenings. Thanks to the Westboro Beach Cafe, Ottawans have a space to enjoy and celebrate Cuban music and culture; and dance the night away.
The Fiesta vibe is electric. As the sun is starting to set, the stage and dance floor gets lit with warm golden rays. The infectious Cuban beats make everyone want to dance, no matter their age. Many guests love coming to the beach party because it’s a mini vacation for just the cost of a $10 cover.
During a break in their set, Apt613 got to chat with Yasmina Proveyer, Fiesta Cubana’s band manager, and members of the band Miguel de Armas (music director), Reynier García (congas), and Sheyla Fernández (vocals).
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Apt613: What is Fiesta Cubana all about?
Yasmina Proveyer: Fiesta Cubana brings together some Cuban-born and Canadian musicians who are based in Ottawa and Gatineau. There really are no Cuban bands in the region, so we tried to be pioneers here and promote Cuban music. We also do fusion with pop songs and Latin hits, arranged in the Cuban style by the pianist and leader of the band, Miguel de Armas. It’s a super fun project with singers, trombones, percussions, piano, bass, definitely a great vibe to dance with.
Miguel de Armas: If you want to hear some authentic Cuban music, our band is probably one of the best to come to!
Sheyla Fernández: Our music comes from our Latin roots, in particular our Cuban roots. We do it with a lot of love, a lot of dedication, and with a lot of affection to dance. We want to give everyone a party with great music, and for people to feel free to dance.
Reynier García: We work very hard to be able to entertain people, to give people a party, with joy and flavour.
What makes the Westboro beach party unique?
Yasmina: There’s really no Latin club in the area with live bands, and we’re a 10-piece salsa band, so it’s challenging to find a venue that can host us. Westboro Beach Cafe was really the perfect place because it can give a Caribbean feel with Latin music. Fun is guaranteed!
What’s something about the band that we should know?
Yasmina: This band is made up of professional musicians that put in a lot of hard work–they get together to rehearse, to practice, and some of them have many jobs. To pursue music professionally, it’s very hard! We really appreciate the chance to play at Westboro Beach Cafe where the cover charge goes directly to the band. By coming to see us, it’s a way to support local musicians.
Miguel: We are always pushing ourselves to be the best musicians, to have fun, and to make Cuban music so that people can have a good time.
Find out about upcoming shows on Facebook. Fiesta Cubana plays at Westboro Beach Cafe on Thursday nights August 23, August 30 and September 13, 2018. On Saturday, September 15 will be a big party to say goodbye to summer, and then Fiesta Cubana will be back next year. Cover is $10.