The Tropicana (Calle 72 e/ 41 y 45, tel. 07/207-0110, fax 07/207-0109) is an astonishing exemplar of modernist architecture. Most of the structures date from 1951, when the nightclub was restored with a new showroom—the Salon Arcos de Cristal (Crystal Bows)—designed by Max Borges Recio with a roof of five arcing concrete vaults and curving bands of glass to fill the intervening space.
Built in decreasing order of height, they produce a telescopic effect that channels the perspective toward the orchestra platform. Borges also added the famous geometric sculpture that still forms the backdrop to the main stage, in the outdoor Salón Bajo las Estrellas.
Visitors can only view the exterior features by day, when the dancers practice. To admire the Salon Arcos de Cristal, you must visit at night, when the statuesque showgirls perform beneath the stars. (See the Tropicana page in the Entertainment section of this travel guide for more information on the nightclub).
A ballet dancer (shown pirouetting on the tips of her toes) by the renowned Cuban sculptor Rita Longa dances amid the lush foliage in front of the entrance. The statue—Tropicana’s motif—is surrounded by Greek maenads, with the bacchantes performing a wild ritual dance to honor Dionysius.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition