Havana’s tropicana nightclub excited about new US-Cuba relations

havana-live-tropicanaHAVANA, Feb 10 (EFE) The legendary Tropicana cabaret, with a 75-year-long history and a symbol of cuban music, is excited about the new era with the United States with a predicted increase in North American spectators among the international audience that attend the “Paradise Under the Stars” every night.

“We are hopeful, let’s see how this process develops. We hope that finally the travel restrictions are lifted and that many North Americans come here to see Cuba and Tropicana,” the cabaret’s artistic director, Armando Pérez, told Efe.

First opened on 31 December 1939, Havana’s Tropicana remains one of the island’s main tourist attractions with a show that is unique both for the location in the open air surrounded by lush tropical flora and its quality repertoire of genuine Cuban music, where the cha-cha-cha, mambo, guaracha, rumba and African rhythms have fused with Latin jazz, samba, and Spanish and Brazilian music. In high season, between 500 and 800 people attend the acclaimed show.

All are foreign tourists mainly from Spain, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and in recent years from Russia. Very few Cubans are seen in the Tropicana audience as the cheapest ticket is CUC 75 (equivalent to the US dollar), a prohibitive price for Cubans earning a precarious income.

After it was announced that relations between Cuba and the United States were to be reestablished and the first measures taken by Washington to soften the blockade introduced, among them an easing of travel restrictions to the island, the Tropicana is waiting for an increase in North American traffic in the not-too-distant future.

One of the show’s solo singers, Idra, who specialises in son and guaracheras, sees the change as positive. “I hope they can come here and appreciate our art (…) that they see us here, at our home,” she told Efe, after explaining how the Tropicana is an “institution” that has never ceased to operate despite the 50-year U.S. embargo.
After it opened in 1939 on an old Havana estate in the neighbourhood of Marianao, the Tropicana quickly became one of the most popular nightclubs on the American continent, visited by the legends such as Ava Gardner, Marlon Brando and Nat King Cole.

Celebrated Cuban and foreign artists to perform at the club include Rita Montaner, pianist and composer Ignacio Jacinto “Bola de Nieve” Villa Fernández, entertainer Josephine Baker and singer Celia Cruz. The venue became a casino-cabaret, receiving many visits from various members of the American mafia until Fidel Castro’s revolution succeeded in 1959.