Of all Cuba's nightclubs and cabarets, Tropicana has always held place of honor. Part casino and part cabaret it was all Cuban: the only nightclub owned and run by Cubans rather than by the American mob. TROPICANA NIGHTS brings back the days and nights of its greatest glory, in the 1940s and 1950s, when Havana was one of the most sophisticated and ...
Of all Cuba's nightclubs and cabarets, Tropicana has always held place of honor. Part casino and part cabaret it was all Cuban: the only nightclub owned and run by Cubans rather than by the American mob. TROPICANA NIGHTS brings back the days and nights of its greatest glory, in the 1940s and 1950s, when Havana was one of the most sophisticated and vibrant tourist destinations in the world, and where the combination of music, dance, gambling, and sex made it irresistible to post-War America. Co-written by Rosa Lowinger, a Havana-born American journalist who specializes in Cuban culture, and Ofelia Fox, the octogenarian widow of the nightclub's last proprietor, the book combines cultural history with memoir to reconstruct the days when, to thousands, Tropicana seemed like the most glorious place on earth-a "paradise under the stars." Part of the story recounted in this book is the growing bond between Lowinger and Fox, and how the older woman reveals to the younger what Tropicana came to represent. "If you grow up among Cuban exiles in Miami," Lowinger writes, "you quickly become used to hyperbole, to memories clouded by grief and loss. Everything in Cuba had once been more beautiful, more elegant, more glamorous. To many, Tropicana was the ultimate symbol of those days. But it belonged to my parents' world, not mine." When Rosa met Ofelia, however, she realized that the Tropicana's story transcended generations, and that the only way to bring it to life was to combine memoir and narrative.
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Publishers Weekly, 2005-07-18 Tropicana opened in 1939 at Villa Mina, a six-acre suburban Havana estate with lush tropical gardens. It's still going strong, after a number of setbacks, not the least of which was Fidel Castro's squelching of nightlife and other social outlets. After Martin Fox took over in 1950, choreographer Roderico "Rodney" Neyra staged spectacular shows in the club's newly constructed Arcos de Cristal, parabolic concrete arches and glass walls soaring over an indoor stage. Headliners included Josephine Baker, Nat King Cole, Celia Cruz, Xavier Cugat and Carmen Miranda; and celebrity visitors ranged from Brando and Durante to Hemingway and Piaf. Tracing the evolution of this "paradise under the stars" against the backdrop of Cuban culture, politics in pre-Castro Cuba and mob connections, journalist Lowinger (Latina) interweaves the personal stories of Fox and his widow, playwright-teacher Ofelia Fox, who recalls, "It was a life set to music. What could be better?" The superb talents of Cuban music's Golden Age were resurrected in the Oscar-nominated film Buena Vista Social Club (1998), but Lowinger's scintillating chronicle offers an overview-not found in that film-of the florid, splashy era when "Cuba was an endless party, and Tropicana was its epicenter." Photos. Agent, Ellen Levine. (Oct. 31) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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