Just when people began giving up on Calle Ocho (for a time, even die-hard Cubans rarely came here from their more suburban neighborhood homes) things started to change. By the 1990s, new waves of Latin American immigrants began settling in the area. Recent arrivals from Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua started their own small shops and restaurants.
A long-time open-air Cuban cafeteria on the corner of 14th and Calle Ocho turned into a gaily-decorated Nicaraguan place seemingly overnight.
For almost 30 years, Calle Ocho or 8th Street, the main thoroughfare of Little Havana was vibrant and alive with the sights and sounds of Cuban culture. There were restaurants, small shops, Cuban food stores, and fruit markets. In the beginning, when everyone was poor, an outing consisted of a stroll down Calle Ocho to take in the night air followed by a pastry and a bottle Materva or Malta from La Gran Via Bakery. Calle Ocho was always crowded at night with people sitting on bus benches and conversing or standing around the coffee windows or in the makeshift Domino Park, then just a vacant lot.
Raúl Musibay: We can only recommend this for people who are fluent in Spanish because all of the plays are written by and performed by Cuban actors.
Jorge Castillo: It even helps to be Cuban to understand a lot of the humor!
Raúl Musibay: They present eight or nine different productions each year.
Glenn Lindgren: Those not fluent in Spanish may still enjoy the Midnight musical follies and the female impersonator acts – if that's the kind of thing you like...
Glenn Lindgren: Although Cultural Fridays are sill confined to that "magic" area between 14th and 18th this will change with time merchants from all over Little Havana do have an opportunity to set up shop along the sidewalk.
Jorge Castillo: Cultural Friday is THE BEST WAY to experience Calle Ocho and Little Havana. It is a safe and fun evening event that is suitable for the whole family.
Raúl Musibay: You never know what to expect. The music is very good. There are usually several bands playing, most noticeably next to Domino Park, where they block off the street, set up chairs, and erect a portable stage.
Jorge Castillo: Both local and nationally known Latin artists have been known to appear here. Be sure to get there early if you want to grab a seat.
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