Next weekend marks the 15th anniversary of the Cuba Nostalgia Fair, a three-day event that seeks to bring pre-Castro Cuba to life through a lively combination of art, performances, food and a strong emphasis on Cuba’s pre-revolutionary achievements.
Old stories are swapped, Cuban memorabilia is sold, and younger generations with little or no personal memory of the island are given a crash-course in a feeling that has served as an emotional cornerstone in the history of the Cuban exile community, nostalgia. In fact, the fair is as much a monument to nostalgia and the community that feels it than it is about pre-Castro Cuba.
The reason monuments exist is to pay tribute to that which is past or fading away, to memorialize loss. In the case of Cuba, loss has been a constant in the way that exiles have articulated their relationship to the revolution: the loss of family, homeland, property, and perhaps even innocence. But the fair also functions as a monument to the feeling of loss, a nostalgia for nostalgia, that has historically united the community but has, in recent years, lost traction in an ever-evolving Cuban Miami.