Music & Nightlife

Check this out: Cuba Nostalgia offers pre-revolution rhythms, dance and the famed Tropicana

An old postcard featuring the famed Tropicana.
An old postcard featuring the famed Tropicana.

This year’s Cuba Nostalgia event will be devoted to dance, and among the featured exhibits is a tribute to the legendary Tropicana cabaret, where Cuban rhythms have flourished for more than seven decades.

The Tropicana, founded in 1939 in Havana, is memorable to several generations of Cubans and to foreigners who have come to know it as an entertainment center of international standing.

The magic of the cabaret will be recreated at the Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald booth at the three-day event, which begins Friday .

Known since its inception as the "paradise under the stars" because of a crystal roof that made the indoors feel like outdoors, the Tropicana was a magnet for celebrities such as Rita Montaner and Bola de Nieve. But it gained even greater fame in the 1950s with extravagant dance productions before audiences that often included movie stars such as Marlon Brando, Ava Gardner, Maria Felix, Joan Crawford and Sarita Montiel, to name a few.

Among those who performed in the 1950s were many who later became icons, including Celia Cruz and her La Sonora Matancera orchestra, Olga Guillot, Rosita Fornes, Bebo Valdes and Blanca Varela. On the long list of foreign artists who also made appearances there were Liberace, Edith Piaf, Nat King Cole, Lola Flores and Josephine Baker.

The Tropicana is credited for popularizing Cuban dance rhythms, including mambo, rumba, son and cha-cha. The extravagant stage also served as location for films.

And even as the 1959 revolution opened the floodgate in Cuba for the loss of many talented artists who fled the island, the Tropicana remains a popular entertainment spot in Havana.

Follow Arturo Arias-Polo on Twitter @arturoariaspolo

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Cuba Nostalgia

WHEN: 11 a.m - 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: 10901 Coral Way

COST: $12 for adults; $6 for children under 12

INFO: For more information visit www.cubanostalgia.org

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