Revelers in Cuban attire are to conga from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico Friday night, May 27, to celebrate Key West’s rich and colorful Cuban heritage.
Located just 90 miles from Cuba, Key West was the site of a flourishing cigar industry in the mid to late 1800s, when the island city welcomed thousands of Cuban immigrants seeking greater personal and political freedom. The conga line and associated events recognize the vibrant culture and customs those people brought with them to Key West.
Led by the Comparsa Key West dance troupe, the conga line is to step off at 8 p.m. and proceed down mile-long Duval Street from the ocean to the gulf. Members of the public are invited to join the fun and dance down Duval with the troupe.
Conga celebrants are to wind up at El Meson de Pepe, 410 Wall St. at Mallory Square, for a lively Latin dance party beginning at 9:30 p.m. Admission is free.
As well as being a popular restaurant, El Meson showcases memorabilia that recalls Key West’s Cuban heritage and large-scale artwork reproduced from pieces by renowned Cuban-American folk artist Mario Sanchez.
At 7 p.m. Saturday, May 28, those who appreciate fine cigars and Cuban cuisine are to gather at El Meson for a cigar dinner that recognizes Key West’s cigar-making legacy. At the industry’s peak in the late 1800s, the island city was home to nearly 150 cigar factories whose workers produced 100 million hand-rolled cigars annually.