La Equina Fría

Since it’s modern incarnation, popularized by the Dutch in the 14th century, ice-skating has been recognized as one of the oldest pastimes enjoyed by all stratas of society in unison, in one public space. 

Although a variety of short-lived attempts to introduce ice-skating to Havana occurred in the mid 20th century, this activity, predominantly associated with northern locales, never gained a sturdy foothold in Cuba the way baseball and basketball did, for obvious climate-based reasons. 

Photo: Ladyrene Pérez/ Cubadebate

Photo: Ladyrene Pérez/ Cubadebate

Facilitated by the advent of synthetic ice, as part of 2015 Havana Biennial's ‘Detras del Muro’, Duke Riley erected a 25 by 55 foot skating rink on the corner of Calle Padre Varela and el Malecon (the waterfront).  The rink was outfitted with over 200 pairs of ice skates and the original rink signage that Riley reclaimed from a condemned skating rink in Queens, New York.  A roster of events and community activities were be programmed (a hockey game between El Museo de Bellas Artes  and The Bronx Museum of Art, a Hellbent Hooker heavy metal show, and skating lessons for the local kids) before, like it’s predecessors, it was planned to be shuttered at the end of the Biennial, however, it lasted for more than a year. 

When two nations re-establish diplomacy after long periods of separation, there is impending cultural impact on both communities. 

Photo: Rachel D. Rojas

Photo: Rachel D. Rojas