Off to the Village Underground in Shoreditch tonight to watch one of the most mesmerising concerts I have been to for a long time. Ariwo, an experimental jazz/fusion combo produced one of those sets that stays on one’s mind long after the lights have been turned off.

More than mere fusion, Ariwo specialises in a hitherto little-explored musical phenomenon: that of the crossover of electronica and Afro-Cuban beats. The band’s emphasis on sound (hence the name Ariwo, which translates as “noise” from Yoruba) is evident all the way throughout their set, rendering the concert a deep sonic experience. Trumpet loops, saxophone riffs and conga solos turned the night into both a foot-tapping and eyes-closed, fists-clenched experience.

What draws the spectator into Une Jeunesse Allemande from the word go is the fact that there once was a type of cinema that was radical and uncompromising. In the current cinematic climate of endless comic book franchises A German Youth was a much-needed, much-welcomed visual balm. Even allowing for some bourgeois-driven idealism, the times the documentary depicts — the 60s and 70s and the foundation of the Red Army Faction in West Germany — were characterised by a questioning of the status quo. That the means used were not always the right ones, the film does go out of its way to tell us. At the same time it also provides a very helpful historical background. This is the period when various leftist movements emerged in the US, Italy, Germany and France. To understand Une Jeunesse Allemande, one needs to understand first the level of dissatisfaction of the post-war youth movement.

When the lights came back on in the auditorium of the Goethe Institut, I turned around to see who my fellow spectators were. Judging by their faces, I gather there were at least a dozen members in the audience who would have been either teenagers during the period the documentary charts (1965–1975) or young adults. I walked back to the tube station wondering if they, too, had been part of the Red Army Faction, or at least sympathetic to their cause. It is a peculiar pastime of mine these days; to wonder what other lives are like.

The premise of the Japanese film A Thousand and One Nights is as old as the famous collection of Middle-Eastern folk tales on which it is based. It sets out to shock and challenge. With its garage-driven soundtrack and psychedelic cinematography (the opening sequence looks like an LSD-fuelled dreamscape) the movie captures the spirit of the late 60s, all free love and rebelliousness. Watching the feature (part of the East End Film Festival) in the plush comfort of the Castle Cinema in Lower Clapton, Hackney, I felt as if I, too, was Aladdin, one minute poor market boy and the next minute, the richest man in the world.

Reality kicked in as soon as I got home and left my keys in the hook by the door. The rectangular mirror (showing only the top part of my body) returned the image of a solitary figure, one caught between the semidarkness of the street outside and the dim light coming from a small, timer-operated lamp in the corridor.

London-based, Cuban writer. Author of “Cuban, Immigrant, and Londoner”, to be published by Austin Macauley. Has written for The Guardian and Prospect.

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