"Open to the sky, the stage appears to float in a prehistoric jungle of oversize ferns. Coffee-coloured girls dressed in spangles slink down the branches towards the audience of else shimmy down creeping wines. The retro orchestra kicks in with mambo, and the warm breeze carries the perfume of expensive cigar smoke. Waitresses even more stunning than the dancers bring another round of mojitos, and you wonder just how you go to heaven."
- Alfredo Jose Estrada, author
You can't go to Paris without going to the Eiffel Tower, right? I thing the same applied when visiting Havana. You can't be there and not experience the world-known cabaret and nightclub Tropicana, that first opened its doors in the distant December 30,1939 and reached its glory nights in the 1950s. Even if you are not a big enthusiast of Latino music and dances (as myself), you don't want to miss the lavish spectacle of colour, movement and sound under the stars of Havana's night sky. Americans once flew from Miami to Havana on a plane with live music and a wet bar just to catch the show. I guess they were lucky to be entertained by Nat King Cole or Josephine Beker whose photos adorn the walls of the Rodney restaurant, named after the original choreographer Neyra. But I have to admit, I was impressed by the great dancers and musicians and the passion radiating from their performances. It is a glittering show featuring over 200 artists, showcasing an array of Cuban culture through music, dance, and a compelling display of pageantry. Pulsating salsa, cha-cha, mambo, jazz, ballet, acrobatic, feathers, beads, bikinis, a little retro, a little kitsch, and pear-shaped bodies spotting crystal chandeliers on their heads under constantly changing colourful light make one's eyes dart from right to left, from stage to stage.
Of course, I couldn't help but wonder what my experience must have looked like if I arrived at this classic showplace under the lush canopy of trees, let's say in 1956 - my husband in a tuxedo, I in a black evening gown and white satin gloves - slowly sipping cocktails, while sneaking a peak of Marlon Brando at the front row table in the audience or perhaps Elizabeth Taylor, or Greta Garbo... ;)
- Tickets to the Tropicana can be purchased at hotels and tour agencies in Havana or from the tour operator at the resort you are staying. There are 3 different price levels and options. For the most expensive show ticket, at 95 CUC (convertible pesos), we were given a bottle of Havana Club Anejo Especial Rum per table, a glass of champagne as a welcome drink, a can of coke and a bowl of nuts during the show. (You are not allowed to have any of the allocated drinks (rum, coke, wine) until the show actually starts. If you order a cocktail, it will cost 5CUC). For additional 10 CUC, we had dinner at Rodney restaurant.
- The show starts at 10:00 pm and ends around midnight. The women receive a flower and men are given a cigar upon entrance.
- At the entrance you will be charged 5 CUC if you bring in a camera, 10 CUC for an iPad and 15 CUC for video camera. (?)
- The dress code is formal.
If you have already been to Tropicana Club in Havana, I would love to hear about your experience.
Thank you for reading.