La Descarga: Invoke Your Passion.
by Dawn Garcia (Cover Photo of Dawn writing)
The evening is heavy with heat and muggy with moisture as I arrived at the front door where my wonderfully talented friend, Gedina awaited me. Just under the sign reading La Descarga, Jilom stood tall at about six foot three, wearing a blue button up shirt, black vest, dark pants, and a smile that settles into you with a welcomed “hello”. He leans into his 007 mic and says, “two for the bar” after verifying that we are in fact, “on the list”. He tells us to enjoy our night and we happily abide. In through the iron gated door. Opens for us, closes immediately behind us. Stairs await with that uncertainty of an abandoned apartment building victim of socio-economic times. Oddly, reminiscent of the dilapidation of Cuba once Castro declared artists were political criminals in the 1960s.
We get up to the top of the stairs and enter what seems like an abandoned office from days passed. A wooden desk with markings on it and hidden imperfections. A mirror, an armoir, and a woman. Hair in a bun, resisting the inevitable heat now thrashing down on her, she says, “Have you been here before?” We shake our heads. She happily responds, “I love that! You’re La Descarga virgins”. I smile because there’s something rather sexy about that. She explains the house rules and then she opens up the armoir doors, pushes back the clothes hanging and just behind the clothing? The club. Entering onto the platform, the door closes behind us. All I can think is, “God I love Mark and Johnnie. It’s like they climbed inside my mind and created everything I’ve ever hoped for”. The worlds they create in each of their clubs are seeped in times I believe are our most intriguing. La Descarga is yet another example of their unending vision and ability to transport.
We enter onto the walkway that leads to a staircase with iron spiraling down to the club floor while we step, ever so carefully in our 4-inch heels on each of the steel industrial steps. We are among the first to arrive. We look around. I survey the ceiling, perfectly aged with paint and clever tell-tale signs of Cuba during it’s time. Iron chandeliers encasing dim lights. A bar splashed with ambers and reds lined with bottles of spirit makers. We get our tables, saunter over to the bar where Justin asks us what we’d like. Gedina orders some drink that has “million” in its title and I decide to embrace the Cuban theme and order a mojito: less sugar, more lime. He makes it inimitably. The night goes on, the room fills with bodies eager to dance, drink, laugh, and connect – and soon enough a man appears in the middle of the bar floor in a white suit and a saxophone. He plays and moves through the air like a man on a mission. His mission? Get people engaged. Soon, the show introduces a gorgeous Latin dancer in a red lace outfit. She makes her way down the spiral staircase, the sax man plays to the movement of her body … sexual and permissive all at once. Bit by bit her clothing comes off until all that remains is tassels, panties, and fishnets.
As the night continues, another dance from the Latina vixen, a crowd of thirsty dwellers, a trip to the cigar room, a plentiful amount of beautiful people, dance floor flow, and a lot of thoughtful character. La Descarga is a place that reminds me of the “joints” once permitted in old time Cuba. The kind that Reinaldo Arenas dared to write about:
I pull off the cover, and stare at her dusty, cold shape I clean of the dust and caress her. With my hand, delicately, I wipe clean her back, her base and her sides. In front of her, I feel desperate and happy. I run my fingers over her keyboard and suddenly it all starts up. With a tinkling sound the music begins, little by little, then faster; now full speed. Walls, trees, streets, cathedrals, faces and beaches. Cells, mini- cells, huge cells. Starry nights, bare feet, pines, clouds. Hundreds, thousands, millions of parrots. A stool, a climbing plant, they all answer my call, all come to me. The walls recede, the roof vanishes, and you float quite naturally. You float uprooted, dragged off, lifted high. Transported, immortalized, saved. Thanks to that subtle, continuous rhythm, that music, that incessant tap-tap.
This is the kind of place writers come to write. Lovers come to play. Souls come to be. It’s nothing like LA. It’s a transport back to a place in time where freedom meant liberation and passion was just common sense.
Make sure to visit every single one of Mark & Johnny Houston’s places. You will never be at a shortage of something to talk about. (Thank you to Mark, Angel, Josh, Joe, Justin, and Jilom at La Descarga.)