Too often Floridita’s can seem like a place for people with more money than musical taste. But the other night Son Yambu really pulled people onto the dance floor – and what’s more they are a London-based son band, although virtually all the musicians are Cuban. They are one of the bands currently on the roster at the cocktail bar, restaurant and Cuban music venue.
Their lead singer Yuriselys Moreno Soria was dressed in a bright red shirt with earrings the size of saucers clanging against her neck. Born in Santiago de Cuba, she has just the right sort of burnished voice to cut through the seven-piece son conjunto line-up of two trumpets, tres guitar, double bass and three percussionists.
They have a nice, rustic sound much more suited to a crumbling Caribbean dance-hall than the very shiny ambience of Floridita. A couple of the songs I recognised but couldn’t name, but alongside the standards they were also doing songs of their own. The instrumental highlight was a lovely twangy solo on the tres – I think by Manuel Alejandro Sanchez.
I didn’t have the confidence to try out my salsa steps, but there were women dancing together on girls’ nights out and a wonderful weaving of arms and legs as couples stared intently into each other’s eyes.
“Are you having a good time?” asked the singer, rather too often, when it was clear from the interlacing of bodies in front of her that everybody was. “This is good, this is energy,” she continued, “but very soon we have to call the firemen!” In the end they were cooling off with mojitos, always better than a fire-extinguisher in my experience. But it’s good to remember that on these chilly nights there is the taste and musical flavour of Cuba in the heart of London’s West End. Son Yambu play again Nov 23 and Dec 28.