In the docks of Havana, a hundred or so years ago, the original rumberos would improvise songs about the news of the day, always keeping with the beat of the drums. So Carnival Arts came up with a song about the news around Miami Bridge and a neighbor, who had an unusual way of getting around town with his dog.
Deep in the heat of the summer of 2013, it seemed like a good idea to play around with rumba. We learned a basic guaguancó beat and sang one of the classics: Console yourself just like me, cuz just like you, I fell in love, and broke my heart.
For an afternoon, the musicians and dancers at Miami Bridge Central fell in love rumba. But by the next week, the love affair was over.
“This song again,” protested a young woman. “Can’t we sing our own song.”
Next thing you know, the group composed a song in honor of a neighbor who they saw riding by on his bicycle everyday — with his dog draped over his shoulders!
Just seen a man with a dog on his neck / And if he pee, that neck get wet.
Folks came up with a beat and soon everyone was grooving.
“We need to make a music video,” the musicians insisted.
Longtime Carnival Arts collaborator and videographer Damian Rojo agreed. He enlisted fellow filmmaker Baron Scherer and some stylist friends who helped the young artists put together eye-popping looks. Celeste Landeros stopped by her neighborhood Goodwill Superstore and snapped up all the stuffed dogs in stock. Soon everyone had a dog on their neck.
The shelter director gave us permission to shoot the music video in front of the Paradise Trailer Park, next to the shelter, as long as we had a police escort. The police officer who happened to be on site at the time not only agreed to escort us, but he allowed us to include the squad car in the video — as long as we did not show his car’s number. No problem.
The neighbors over at Paradise were eager to join in our urban carnival. One neighbor even demonstrated how she believed the dog on the neck dance should be done. Check out her deep back bends in the Rob West Mix video. Look for a softer side of the youth in the acoustic version, backed by original piano music played by Fernando Landeros.
The highlight of both music videos, of course, is the man himself — Piche — and the dog on his neck, Mama. Why does he he ride around down with Mama on his neck, we asked. Simple, Piche explained, “Because I don’t have a leash.”
Choreographer Jorge Moreno was on hand to suggest dance moves, but the youth were pretty sure of what they wanted to do. Madeylene Moreno snapped these beautiful photos.