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La Tropical (Unrated)

Release Date: June 2nd, 2006 (Village East Cinemas) by Fabrication Films.
Directed by David Turnley.
In Spanish with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about La Tropical, a popular outdoor dance club in Havana, Cuba.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: The history of the La Tripical dance hall is quite fascinating. It began decades ago as a forbidden oasis near a beer factory where workers escaped to have fun at. When factory officials found out about it, they took advantage of the demand for beer there, so, logically, they allowed for the dancing to continue as long as business boomed. La Tropical, also known as Salón Rosado Benny Moré, brings thousands of Cubans together not only to dance and have to fun, but also to potentially fall in love with one another. Admittedly, it would have been interesting to include an interview with someone who shares their story of how they met their loved one there. Nonetheless, just by listening to the lively, pulsating music, it’s easy to understand what makes this place so exciting and special. Director David Turnley wisely allows many of the visuals and sounds speak for themselves without the need for a voice-over narrator. Turnley shoots in digital video and, through the use of black-and-white images, masterfully captures the intensity, passion, joy as well as the timelessness of La Tropical.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: It’s quite moving to watch an elderly lady express her joy about rising out of bed on a Sunday morning just to dance at La Tropical. The music and dancing clearly brings out her youthful spirit. As one Cuban man insightful admits in an interview, Cubans are, after all, much happier than the media depicts them to be—even under Fidel Castro. In turn, La Tropical helps them to celebrate and express their happiness.



IN A NUTSHELL: Electrifying! A lively, joyous celebration of the Cuban dance culture!

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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