Splendour of Stars

María Elena Balán/ Photos: Ferval, on: Culture
Splendour of Stars

Those who visit Cuba and do not enjoy Havana's Tropicana Cabaret lose a good opportunity to enjoy one of the Caribbean country's and world's most famous night clubs. The glamour and stylishness of this cabaret have evolved during its 70 years of existence.

The Tropicana show is so famous that about a half million visitors enjoy it annually. The grace of its dancers and the beautiful Cuban music are outstanding in this show, along with the attractive environment where palm trees stand out as a singular Cuban hallmark.

The club opened on Dec 31, 1939 and was originally called the Beau Site. Twelve months later, the name was changed to the Tropicana in reference to the song. The number of nightly visitors now greatly exceeds the original 300 who were on hand opening night.

Six and a half decades after its opening, Tropicana has become a complex, which offers the best of Cuban music, cocktails and food. In Tropicana, visitors can find the Salón Bajo las Estrellas (Outdoor Ballroom), a fantastic place where the vegetation is part of a big musical show. A daily audience of about 1000 people enjoy Afro Cuban dances, the music of good local and international singers, as well as Cuban cigars and rum.

Splendour of StarsMore than 200 dancers usually perform at Tropicana's stages, dressed up in extravagant costumes to dance the purest and most genuine Cuban music.

Well-known singers such as Nat King Cole, Josephine Baker, Xavier Cugat, los Chavales de España, Carmen Miranda, Pedro Vargas, Libertad Lamarque, Tania Libertad, Alejandra Guzmán, Cheo Feliciano, Celia Cruz, Olga Guillot, Rita Montaner, Bola de Nieve, among others have performed at this cabaret.

Tropicana was awarded the National Monument distinction in 2002, from the National Council of Cuba's Monuments. HOW DID TROPICANA EMERGE? It is said that when the world was undergoing the 1930's economic depression, an Italian businessman named Víctor Correa, with a great experience in the show business, had the idea of turning Villa Mina farm, then located in the sub-urban district of Marianao, into an artistic and music recreation center. The cabaret was like an exotic tropical version of the Parisian Folies Bergere, inserted in the heavenly tropical environment of a Havana farm. In the late 1940's, the nightclub was acquired by Martin Fox, then known as one of the greatest Czars of gambling. Fox decided to remodel and enlarge the cabaret, without changing the under-the-trees stage. On December 31, 1949, a sculpture named "Ballerina" was placed at the main entrance of the already famous cabaret. The piece of art was made by a prestigious Cuban sculptor, Rita Longa. The Ballerina sculpture has been Tropicana's hostess for 56 years, as if she were trying to express that the spirit of dance has no bounds. La Fuente de las Ninfas (The Fountain of the Nymphs), made by the artist Aldo Gamba, is also part of the sculptural group that contributes to Tropicana. With the same name and similar shows, that type of cabaret has been recreated in Matanzas City, near the famous Varadero tourist resort, as well as in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba. There are also nightclubs in The Canary Islands and Santiago de Chile, where Cuban artists from Tropicana perform and increase the fame of one of the world's most famous cabarets.

Splendour of StarsUn détail entourant les rénovations est particulièrement intéressant : le stade devait pouvoir être abaissé au niveau du sol au terme des spectacles, pour permettre aux spectateurs de participer à la danse au rythme de l'orchestre. Le 31 décembre 1949, une sculpture appelée " la Ballerine " a été installée à l'entrée principale du cabaret, déjà réputé. Elle est l'oeuvre de la prestigieuse sculptrice cubaine Rita Longa. L'architecte Max Borges Jr, alors responsable de la rénovation du Cabaret, voulait qu'un sculpteur décore l'étang à l'entrée du cabaret. Bien que cela semble paradoxal, Longa a préféré sculpter une gracieuse danseuse de ballet. Aussi cette ballerine est-elle l'hôtesse du Tropicana depuis 56 ans, comme si elle essayait d'exprimer que l'esprit de la danse n'avait aucune limite. La Fuente de las Ninfas (la Fontaine des Nymphes), réalisée par l'artiste Aldo Gamba, fait aussi partie du groupe sculptural qui participe aux beautés du Tropicana. Le Cabaret Tropicana est actuellement une des boîtes de nuit les plus réputées et les plus grandes de Cuba et du monde. Portant le même nom et offrant des spectacles semblables, ce type de cabaret a été recréé dans la Ville de Matanzas, située près de la notoire ville touristique de Varadero, ainsi qu'à l'est de Santiago de Cuba. La réputation du Tropicana dépasse les frontières cubaines : aux Îles Canaries et à Santiago, au Chili, les artistes cubains recréent l'un des cabarets les plus célèbres de la planète, tout en contribuant à son prestige. Tropicana, un endroit privilégié par les hommes d'affaires et par ceux qui apprécient les bons cigares, accueille le Festival international du Habano, dans le secteur Marianao de la Havane.



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