14ymedio, Havana, 2 February 2016 — There has never been a beach, but a piece of coast full of pieces of concrete. However, this part of the Havana coastline that everyone calls “Playita 16” (Little Beach 16) is a place filled with memories for several generations of Cubans. Free, ugly, and lacking food services and bathrooms, this conjunction of rock and sea has witnessed rockers, frikis, emos, the poverty-stricken and countless couples in love.
At a time when most of the social centers along the western coastline were for the military or people associated with institutions, this was a place for teenagers looking for a little piece of freedom they didn’t find at home or at school. There were frequent police raids and the vans “loaded with people” heading to the closest police stations. It was also a departure point for dozens of rafters during the Rafter Crisis of August 1994.
Today, despite competition from other meeting sites such as G Street and the emergence of a nice scene beyond the state establishments, Playita 16 has managed to preserve its status as a “place for everyone.” Nothing in it infrastructure has improved and at night, the regulars complain, “you can’t see your hand in front of your face.” But none of that discourages those who frequent it. Of course, to swim there you have to wear shoes, taking care at the edge of the reef, and keep a sharp eye on your towel because of the ever-present thieves.