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The true story of Tropicana

The true story of Tropicana

The Symbol

(First Part)

When Max Borges Jr. assumes the challenge of building the first "big night club" of Cuba, his first thought was to complement it with an image that is universalized and that was related to the stylistic line and majesty of what would be the Arcos de Cristal. Then, after carefully review the projects and being approved by Martin Fox, owner of the night club, the question that everyone had arises, how would it be?

Perhaps he found the inspiration because he was influenced by the extraordinary success of the magazine "Congo Pantera" where wonderful dancers on tiptoe evolved; or perhaps the influence of the film "The Red Shoes", which in those days was a film box-office hit, he decided on this figure. The truth is that when he presented the idea, was an extraordinary surprise because many thought that a night club had no connection whatsoever with the ballet. But Max Borges did not think so because he wanted the best for his project; and selected the sculptor Rita Longa, who was famous for her futuristic works propagated throughout the city, for the execution.

Rita was very surprised because she could not quite think of how to model a ballet figure to symbolize a night club; but Max convinced her by giving her the ideas he had about the night club project. Martin was even harder, but he agreed because of the trust he had placed in his architect.

It is not known for sure who was the model or if it was the fruit of the imagination of this exceptional artist, but when  the beautiful and slender figure was placed at the entry in the illuminated water pond, in the late 1949 it convinced everyone for its delicate beauty while causing the admiration of visitors.

Soon the "ballerina" was the symbol of Tropicana becoming the center of its propaganda, and when the "Arcos de Cristal" hall was opened, it was located at the entrance and left, next to the old mamoncillo tree, giving the impression that it welcomed those attending the night club.

Its image began to appear in all the propaganda, stirrers, table lamps, keychains, napkins, dishes, glasses, etc. and even the games of chance welcomed it in the casino gaming chips, gaming tables and machines and its replica in gold metal adorned the centerpiece of roulettes.

The reproduction of this wonderful artistic work in small format began to be granted since 1994 to the figures of the artistic, intellectual and cultural world linked to the history of the night club, among them Rita Longa who also received the distinction of Dr. Honoris Cause in Art at the University of Havana for her prolific artistic creation. And the "ballerina" continues to welcome attendees that take with them an unforgettable memory of their visit to the "world's cutest night club" .

 (Taken from the unpublished book "Tropicana: Tras los Arcos de Cristal ")