For folks who have only gotten a glimpse into Cuban culture through the media, one thing we can tell is that Cuba is an invigoratingly colorful place full of vibrant, old cars and building facades. And that bright image we have of the country was confirmed tonight from the moment 10 colorfully-clad dancers joined the eight-piece band Turquino on stage tonight for Havana Rakatan.

Most of the dancers (and all of the musicians) hail from Cuba originally, and it shows in everything from the movement of their hips to their vibrant, fruit-basket-colored costumes — think lime and lemon, tangerine and raspberry.

Every second is an eye-full, a constant juggling act for the viewer to take in, all at once. The colors, the music, and the various scenes played out simultaneously across the stage through the language of dance, be it with the salsa, cha cha cha, or bolero. And with summery, short skirts and shorts aplenty, sexy scuffles, and saucy strip-downs (which earned five shirtless male dancers squeals and screams from the audience), it is clear that Havana is one hot, hot, hot city.

At one point, a disco ball drops and the stage transforms into a nightclub, giving viewers a window into a Havana night full of showgirls, sequins, red satin, and the mambo. Things get even glitzier when golden streamers fall in front of the band, and with that we’re reminded of how each detail has been well thought-out to bring us the dreamiest, most visually outstanding show we’ve seen in a while. All in the setting of the new Gaillard Center, and this makes for one epically presented show.

Havana Rakatan is abundantly playful, and it fully expects the audience to have as much fun as its performers are having. With its constant movement, incredible musicianship and songs, and eye candy aplenty, this is one gorgeous, energetic, sensual, and visually enchanting world we’re grateful to have been a part of, if only for one night.

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