Cuba’s avenue distributors are bringing again the pregon, the artwork of singing humorous, rhyming ditties with double entendres concerning the items they’re promoting, with some modernizing the custom by setting their tunes to reggaeton.
The pregon is a centuries-old custom that has impressed well-known songs like “El Manisero” (the peanut vendor), composed within the late 1920s by Cuban musician Moises Simons on son music, the spine of salsa.
It light out in Cuba after Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution did away with most free enterprise. With the tentative liberalization of the centralized economic system over the previous couple of a long time, nonetheless, it has made a comeback.
Cubans can now get a allow to make and promote their very own items on the road, from coconut ice cream to juices. Distributors usually choosing that choice, moderately than opening a store, which stays an onerous enterprise given ongoing restrictions on non-public enterprise.
Others simply illegally promote wares from shops at a mark-up, hoping to keep away from authorities and a advantageous.
Not all avenue distributors trouble with the pregon. Some simply shout out what they’re promoting and their costs in a blunt method on a loop, usually utilizing loudspeakers that they strap to rickety carts or bicycles, including to the city cacophony.
Cuba’s pregoneros nonetheless, like Lyssett Perez, who hawks paper cones of roasted peanuts to vacationers in Previous Havana, consider their ditties assist them stand out.
“Firstly, it’s so individuals hearken to me. Secondly, in order that they love me,” mentioned Perez. “For me the pregon means pleasure.”
Perez has opted for extra conventional pregons. She attire up in colonial-style attire with voluminous skirts and white aprons to be able to catch the attention of potential purchasers.
“If you wish to have enjoyable by the mouth, purchase your self a peanut cornet,” she sings in a deep, melodious voice as she meanders up and down Previous Havana’s pebbled and picturesque streets.
Different pregoneros are updating the style. Gilberto Gonzalez raps about his wares to the beat of reggeaton that blends reggae, Latin and digital rhythms.
“Rest room paper, so the refrain goes, purchase me my individuals, to wash your backside, fingers within the air!” he raps in a video captured by a passer-by that subsequently drew tens of hundreds of views on YouTube.
The video appeared simply months after shortages of bathroom paper in Havana, including to its humorous attraction. Cubans are infamous for coping with fixed shortages of fundamental items by making enjoyable of them.
Such was its success that one among Cuba’s high DJs, DJ Unic, did a remix that additional unfold Gonzalez’s peculiar renown. Sporting a cap that reads “Cash on my Thoughts,” Gonzalez mentioned he was simply attempting to “make ends meet.”