Places that Matter

Tritons Club (former)

Social club established by the Sparks stickball team
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Known as the "greatest after hours club in the Bronx" of its time, the Tritons Club was started in the late 1950s by a group of friends from a local stickball team who wanted to have a place to hold parties. Located next door to the Hunts Point Palace, by the early 1960s, many of the biggest bands in Latin music were playing at the Tritons Club regularly. In addition, Al Santiago, the owner of the Casalegre record store and the record label Alegre records, gathered many well-known bandleaders together at the Tritons to play every Tuesday and they eventually became the Alegre All-Stars. The club is also reputed to be a key venue in the creation of the pachanga dance craze.

Like many of the postwar South Bronx Latin music clubs, the Tritons Club was housed in a former theater--in this case Spooner's Theater founded by actress Cecil Spooner. Ms. Spooner's company was the "toast of the Bronx" during the early 1900s, and its home on Southern Boulevard gained particularly notoriety in 1913 when Spooner and her manager were arrested in front of a packed hall for producing an indecent play.

Unlike big halls such as the Hunts Point Palace, the Tritons Club was very small and intimate, which allowed for close contact with well-known musicians. Conga player Lefty Maldonado remembers: "After you walked up a flight of stairs... it was like a modern speakeasy. And the greatest played there from Patato to Mangual, to Pacheco to Barry Rogers to Eddie Palmieri, Charlie Palmieri. Everyone played in the Tritons' after hours." The Tritons was doing so well that it was eventually moved to a bigger location on Longwood Avenue, which closed soon after the move. The Spooner Theater site was then converted into a movie house that remained open until the 1970s.