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Party Like a Caveman at This Cave Nightclub in Cuba

Disco Ayala, in Trinidad, Cuba, is not your average party destination. It’s located on the outskirts of town, in a natural cave that was once the home of a notorious serial killer.

After walking down the dusty street leading up to the tiny cave mouth, revelers take the stairs leading down to the gated entrance to one of the most unique discos on earth. You pay CUC$3 for entry and a drink, and go down the stairs, and then down another flight through a tunnel. Up to this point, the place looks like a normal cave, apart from a large banner that reads ‘Disco Ayala’. But nothing can really prepare you for what lies within.

As you step out of the narrow tunnel, the sight that awaits you is nothing short of spectacular – a large marble dance floor is set up in the middle of a large cavern, the bright light from a rock-carved bar catches your eye and the colorful lights dancing on the stalagmites will leave you speechless.  Not to mention the loud latino music and the crazy performers. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

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Photo © Alain Sojourner

Ayala has a total of five dance floors and three bars. Seating is limited (first-come-first-served), but the cave itself is large enough to accommodate about 3,000 to 4,000 people at once. The place is open seven days a week, between 11:00 pm and 3:00 am. Most of the drinks are quite cheap at just CUC$3 for a mojito, a Cuba libre or a beer.

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Photo © Alain Sojourner

But there’s more to Disco Ayala than dancing in a natural cave. At precisely 1:00 am, the place comes alive with performances that include snakes, eating broken glasses, acrobatics, walking on fire and several other such amazing feats.

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Photo © Alain Sojourner

The place tends to get pretty hot, the more crowded it becomes, but it’s still a great place to spend a night dancing to disco-salsa tunes as colored lights ricochet off the stalactites, and the large hole in the roof does let some fresh air in. It also maintains the cave’s structural integrity, as without this opening, the sound waves would bring the place down on everybody.

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Photo © Alain Sojourner

But the cave disco of Trinidad isn’t always associated with fun and dancing. In fact, it is named after the most famous killer in Trinidad’s history. Carlos ‘Coco’ Ayala is still a popular figure in Cuban culture, who abducts children, takes them to a cave and kills them. Some say he was a deserter during the War of Independence who found refuge in the cave where he committed many crimes. Legend has it that his exploits were  finally put to a stop when the locals captured and beheaded him. For years, Cuban mothers have been getting their children to behave with a single warning: “Be good or Carlos Ayala will come looking!” He is now considered somewhat of a legend, but historical evidence shows he actually lived there at the end of the nineteenth century, and committed several bloody murders in the cave.

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Photo © Alain Sojourner

Some locals were actually surprised by the disco’s unusual choice of name. Since the real-life Ayala was believed to be a psychopath and a murderer, people have pointed out that the name is a strange contradiction for a disco. But Mayte Garcia Sanchez, the head of recreation at Disco Ayala, was quick to dismiss these statements. “The Legend of Ayala is not recreated,” she insisted. “We do not sell his story, we’re just a nightclub in a cave with natural attractions, and that’s what tourists like.”

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Photo © Alain Sojourner

 

 

Sources: The Sojourner, Frommers, Escambray

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