El Tropicana nightclub is a Havana iconic location. The club opened in 1939 and features over 50 dancers in the cabaret. Tropicana has two complete sets of stages, table areas and dance floors for their performances. Many people don’t know that the showgirls in Las Vegas actually drew their inspiration from this renowned club.

The Tropicana is located in the Miramar neighborhood, the most glamorous section of Havana during the 1950s. During the 1940’s and 50’s the club was also a casino and it was at the center of the jet set lifestyle when it had heavy ties to the mob scene. Many people may only know if the club from the scene in Godfather II, but when you step inside you can just imagine those nights with Nat King Cole performing and Ernest Hemingway, Errol Flynn and other Hollywood royalty at the bar. As I was researching the club in more detail last night I found a great article in Vanity Fair with first hand accounts of life at the Tropicana. It is a such an interesting read.

During my second trip to the island we decided to check out the club and the famous show. I was extremely excited because I love a great dance performance and this show delivered. Tropicana became one of the highlights of all my trips to Cuba. Upon arrival you see a beautifully maintained 1950’s car at the entry and women are given roses and men cigars. When you walk in you feel like you are stepping back into that time of glamour in the 1950’s.

The singers and dancers performed for over two hours with number after number. Dances ranges from updated ballet routines high energy show girl performances with ladies balancing chandeliers on their headdresses in elaborate costume designs. At the end of the show it becomes time for audience participation to dance with the performers on stage. I sat on the aisle so I was so happy to be able to photograph the show and capture the live performance.

This is activity can be a little expensive by Cuban standards but it is a must do if you make the trip to the island.

Further reading

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