Places that Matter

Club Cubano Interamericano

Social club for Cuban immigrants
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Founded in 1945, Club Cubano Interamericano was created as a self-help and social club. Much of the impetus for its founding came from the migration of Cubans from Tampa (most of whom were of Afro-Cuban descent and worked in the cigar industry there) during the 1930s and continuing through the early 1940s. By late 1945 there were enough members of the transplanted Tampa community in New York City to form Club Cubano, which was similar to the Tampa Afro-Cuban concept of worker’s mutual self-help organizations. The New York club grew out of a 1945 fundraising campaign by the Cuban American community to celebrate Antonio Maceo, a national hero in the Cuban war for independence. The money raised was used to hire a hall and give a banquet. The success of this event led to the formation of the social club. The “interamericano” in the name was a conscious statement of inclusion of Puerto Ricans in the club.

In its heyday, Club Cubano had a large dance floor and regularly booked many Latin music bands including Arsenio Rodríguez and Orquesta Broadway for dances that were open to the public. The club was also especially supportive of Ray Barretto during his early years as a bandleader. Regular attendees at the club's dances were very close and have continued to get together for 30 years at a reunion dance called Baile de Mamoncillo (named after a Caribbean fruit). Since Club Cubano closed about ten years ago, the reunion dance has been held annually at Bohemian Hall in Queens (this dance is open to the public).