Make us your home page

Cuban Club forces reggae singer to refrain from using anti-gay lyrics

TAMPA — Before reggae artist Buju Banton took the stage Friday night, the Cuban Club revised the show's contract to forbid him from singing lyrics inciting violence against gays.

It was a move made just hours before the show to stem some of the controversy that ignited a day earlier when gay-rights advocates learned the Cuban Club allowed in an artist who is under fire for violent anti-gay verses in at least one song.

Banton's promoter agreed to the change without objections, said Patrick Manteiga, a Cuban Club executive committee member. It prohibited Banton from singing Boom Bye Bye, whichtalks about shooting and burning gay men, and barred him from making inflammatory remarks about gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgendered people.

More than half of Banton's concerts nationwide have been canceled or moved because of growing protests over his song. While he has said he does not condone violence against gays, critics say he hasn't distanced himself from the popular song, which he wrote as a teen in 1988.

Both Jannus Landing and the Ritz theater in Ybor City canceled Banton's October show before the Cuban Club agreed to host him earlier this week — without knowledge of the controversy.

The surprise rescheduling drew a large-scale e-mail and telephone call protest on Thursday led by Pride Tampa Bay, Equality Florida and the GaYBOR District Coalition, which includes more than 100 businesses and groups in Ybor, including the Cuban Club.

Jose Berenguer, president of the Cuban Club's board of directors, told the groups he regretted signing Banton, but said the club couldn't renege on the contract without facing a possible lawsuit.

The explanation didn't sit well with critics, and on Friday the club's executive committee came up with the contract addendum to try and douse concerns.

"We certainly don't want to be an event center that has anybody preaching hate or encouraging violence against any group," Manteiga said. "We read the lyrics to that song and it's pretty rough and we don't want anyone to encourage violence against gays."

The amended contract required Banton's promoter to pay for three extra police as a precaution. If Banton violated the new agreement, he would forfeit his deposit, which was increased by one-third to $3,000.

"What we hope is that if people have an issue about this artist that they bring it up to the artist," Manteiga said. "The Cuban Club stays out of politics. Our bylaws don't allow us to take a position … But we can take a strong stance against violence and that's what we've done."

Mark Bias, co-founder of the GaYBOR coalition, still wasn't satisfied. He said the concert should have been canceled.

"I think it's still absolutely horrible what they're doing," Bias said. "It's not just the gay community that's upset, it's all of Ybor. And I think they're making a very bad mistake over this."

As the concert got under way Friday there was no evidence of protesters at the club.

Cuban Club forces reggae singer to refrain from using anti-gay lyrics 10/30/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 30, 2009 11:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Toxic' times: How repeal of Florida's tax on services reverberates, 30 years later

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Long before Hurricane Irma attacked Florida, the state faced a troubled fiscal future that the storm will only make worse.

    Robertson says the tax debate is now “toxic.”
  2. Fewer Tampa Bay homeowners are underwater on their mortgages

    Real Estate

    The percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners underwater on their mortgages continues to drop. In the second quarter of this year, 10.2 percent of borrowers had negative equity compared to nearly 15 percent in the same period a year ago, CoreLogic reported Thursday. Nationally, 5.4 percent of all mortgaged homes were …

    The percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners underwater on their mortgages  continues to drop. [Times file photo]
  3. 'What Happened'? Clinton memoir sold 300,000 copies in first week


    Despite being met with decidedly mixed reviews, What Happened, Hillary Clinton's new memoir about the 2016 presidential campaign, sold a whopping 300,000 copies in its first week.

    The new memoir by former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sold 300,000 copies in its first week.
  4. After Irma topples tree, home sale may be gone with the wind

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — To house hunters searching online, the home for sale in St. Petersburg's Shore Acres neighborhood couldn't have looked more appealing — fully renovated and shaded by the leafy canopy of a magnificent ficus benjamini tree.

    Hurricane Irma's winds recently blew over a large ficus tree, left, in the yard of a home at 3601Alabama Ave NE, right, in Shore Acres which is owned by Brett Schroder who is trying to sell the house.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  5. Unemployment claims double in Florida after Hurricane Irma


    The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped by 23,000 last week to 259,000 as the economic impact of Hurricane Harvey began to fade.

    Homes destroyed by Hurricane Irma on Big Pine Key last week. Hurricane Irma continued to have an impact on the job market in Florida, where unemployment claims more than doubled from the previous week.
[The New York Times file photo]