A once-in-a-lifetime Mob Tour of Havana
February 14-18, 2019
Over the years, on numerous occasions, I’ve been asked if I wanted to play a role in hosting a “Mob tour” of Havana, Cuba. These overtures were based on my having published the book HAVANA NOCTURNE: How the Mob Owned Cuba… And then Lost It to the Revolution (HarperCollins: 2008). I’ve always said ‘no’ to these requests.
Earlier this year, I got to talking with friend, author and musicologist Ned Sublette, who published the definitive book on Cuban music (Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo). What was needed, we both agreed, was a tour of Havana that not only encompassed the sites and anecdotal history of American mob activity in Cuba in the 1950s, but also recreated the rich musical and Cuban cultural traditions that flourished during that era.
Ned has unparalleled connections in cultural circles in Cuba. For three years now, he has been organizing tours of Cuba through Postmambo Studies, a people-to-people cross-cultural organization that he founded. I asked Ned, “Would it be possible for us to stage musical shows and cultural presentations that are a near replica of what existed in the 1950s (mambo, Afro-Cuban jazz, rumba, etc.), at top notch venues in Havana?” Ned said, “Let’s go on a reconnaissance mission to Havana and find out.”
Earlier this year, Ned and I traveled to Havana and put together the pieces of what we believe will be a Mob tour unlike anything ever staged before. Yes, we’ll stay at the recently restored Hotel Riviera, created by Meyer Lansky in 1957, with its casket-shaped saltwater pool, its ‘50s-chic décor, and its magnificent nightclub. We’ll go on a tour of the Hotel Nacional, where the reigning bosses of the American underworld met in November 1946 to chart their strategy for controlling Cuba and expanding their criminal empire throughout the latter part of the 20th Century. We’ll take in the world-famous show at the Tropicana Nightclub, and visit the sites where mobsters such as Lansky, Al Capone, and Santo Trafficante lived and played while in the city.
But, also, just as important, we will recreate the nightlife from that time in all its spectacular and intimate glory. In a series of exclusive shows curated by Ned Sublette and me, participants in this tour will experience the musical bounty of Cuba today within the context of the mobster history that was explored and presented in HAVANA NOCTURNE.
At venues including the Copa Room at the Riviera, the exclusive Café Rodney at the Tropicana, the nightclub Gato Tuerto and the recording studio Abdala, some of the best contemporary musicians and singers in Cuba will bring this era alive as it’s never been done before. These shows will be part of the tour, included in the package, in an effort to take participants beyond the predictable surface of mobster history in Havana to the cultural/musical underpinnings that are an essential aspect of this history’s legacy.
There is no tour that will take you inside this history like the HAVANA NOCTURNE MOB TOUR. This is to be a carefully assembled and curated historical/cultural extravaganza, designed to blow you away with its scope and knowledgeability. No Mob tour of Havana comes close to what we are attempting to do.
I will be hosting the tour, bringing to bear all of the research and story-telling verve that made HAVANA NOCTURNE a New York Times best-seller. Ned Sublette is co-hosting with me and is producing the tour through his group Postmambo Studies. In Cuba, we’ll be working with Latin Grammy-winning record producer Caridad Diez, and we’ll talk to a variety of scholars, artists, and people with long memories about this dramatic and highly artistic period of Cuban history.
For more information on pricing and other specifics, contact Ned Sublette directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org