As if this week hasn’t been historic enough for the island nation of Cuba, the Rolling Stones gave their first ever performance for Cuba in Havana on Friday. Thousands upon thousands flocked to the Ciudad Deportiva to watch the British rockers make history.
“We know that years ago, it was difficult to listen to our music in Cuba, but now here we are in your beautiful land,” Mick Jagger said in Spanish to the crowd. “I think that, finally, the times are changing.”
The concert was free and open to the public. Estimates for the total attendance range from 200,000 to 500,000. Even though the concert was hurriedly prepared in just a few months, the stage was complete with brilliant lighting and giant high definition screens.
Fans could be seen lining up 18 hours in advance. The line was full of Cubans from all over the island as well as foreigners who had flown in to watch this historic event. The concert commenced with “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” a song written in 1968. It concluded with the song “Satisfaction.”
The Rollings Stones was formed just three years after Fidel Castro first came into power. For many years afterward, anyone who listened to Rolling Stones music was at serious risk of being sent to rural work brigades to cure their “ideological deviation” as such music was considered dangerous by the government at the time and was heavily censored. This legacy of censorship makes this first ever concert by the Rolling Stones, fifty years after their formation, all the more profound and meaningful.