The ‘hottest spot north of Havana’ has yet another rebirth

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The hottest spot north of Havana has merengued into Manhattan with a brand new lease on nightlife. 

The sixth and newest iteration of the Copacabana opened final month on West 51st Street in Hell’s Kitchen, the legacy of Manhattan’s most well-known hotspot stored alive for 5 a long time by nightclub kingpin John Juliano. 

“I just don’t want it to die,” Juliano, 91, a lifelong Bronx resident, instructed The Post. He partnered within the new nightspot with Manhattan hospitality veteran Ruben Rubin Cabrera.

The authentic Copacabana opened in 1940 at 10 East sixtieth St., the place it was celebrated in American popular culture even after closing its doorways within the wake of Mafia homicide and scandal in 1973.

The membership showcased the nation’s high expertise of World War II and for practically 30 years past: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr., Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, amongst many others.

The Copacabana night club in 2002.
The Copacabana evening membership in 2002.
Theo Wargo
The Re-Opening Fiesta in 2002.
The Re-Opening Fiesta in 2002.
Theo Wargo

“When the club opened there was no Las Vegas, there was no TV. You had to play the Copa to be somebody,” mentioned Juliano, who patronized the unique membership “almost every day.”

He was enthralled by the Copacabana’s movie star tradition and larger-than-life picture whereas working to construct his personal nightclub empire.

Juliano and companions raised the curtain on the Copa’s second act as a disco in 1976 at its authentic location. The membership flourished for another 17 years. Other variations of the Copa adopted at West 57th Street, West thirty fourth Street and West forty seventh Street, which Juliano reluctantly closed two years in the past amid pandemic lockdowns.

Mick Jagger and wife Bianca Jagger at the club in 1976.
Mick Jagger and spouse Bianca Jagger on the membership in 1976.
Images Press
The nightclub pictured in 1980.
The nightclub pictured in 1980.
Images Press
Frank Sinatra, left, chatting with fighter Rocky Graziano at the club in 1946.
Frank Sinatra, left, chatting with fighter Rocky Graziano on the membership in 1946.
Bettmann

The legend of the Copacabana has solely grown over the a long time, even because the membership meandered round Manhattan.

Martin Scorsese’s “Copa scene” in “Goodfellas” is a celebrated cinematic hallmark. Copacabana patron Francis Ford Coppola reportedly primarily based Don Corleone of “The Godfather” fame on the membership’s longtime mob operator, Frank Costello. The infamous nitery impressed Barry’s Manilow’s infectious 1978 hit song “Copacabana” detailing a lethal gunfight over showgirl Lola.

Her suitors Tony and Rico have been named after two Copacabana bartenders, Juliano mentioned, although the duel within the tune is simply imagined. The actual story of pop stars and Gotham glitterati mingling with murderous mobsters is much more sensational.

Carmen Miranda performing in 1947.
Carmen Miranda performing on the membership in 1947.
Courtesy Everett Collection
Patrons dance at Copacabana in 1945.
Patrons dance at Copacabana in 1945.
Bettmann

Costello, the Copa’s mob operator and a real-life Godfather, survived an assassination try exterior his residence at The Majestic on Central Park West in May 1957. 

Just two weeks later an all-star assortment of New York Yankees, together with Billy Martin, Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle, busted up the joint in a bare-knuckled brawl with a bunch of Bronx bowling buddies, The melee was a grand slam for New York City gossip pages.

Notorious gangster “Crazy” Joe Gallo was the reputed behind-the-scenes Copa operator within the Sixties and early Nineteen Seventies. He celebrated his forty third birthday with cake, champagne and a Don Rickles efficiency on the membership in April 1972, together with his pal, actor Jerry Orbach.

Martin Scorsese’s “Copa scene” in “Goodfellas” is a celebrated cinematic hallmark.
Martin Scorsese’s “Copa scene” in “Goodfellas” is a celebrated cinematic hallmark.
“I just don’t want it to die,” said Juliano, 91.
“I just don’t want it to die,” mentioned Juliano, 91.
Phil O’Brien/w42st.com
Louis Armstrong at Copacabana in 1957.
Louis Armstrong at Copacabana in 1957.
Bettmann

The mobster then drove with an entourage in his black Cadillac from the membership to Umberto’s Clam House in Little Italy for an early-morning dinner. He was gunned down there in a blood-soaked scene worthy of the silver display. 

It was a final blast of infamy for the nightlife landmark. The membership closed its doorways in disarray the next 12 months after the demise of long-time underworld-connected proprietor Jules Podell.

“Nobody ever knew who really owned the Copa,” mentioned Juliano. 

The club in the glamorous 70s.
The membership within the glamorous 70s.
Images Press
A performer at the club.
A performer on the membership.
Stefano Giovannini
Reveler at the revived location in 2022.
Reveler on the revived location in 2022.
Stefano Giovannini

The authentic Copa’s tropical-vibe ornamental palm bushes have been planted at every location that adopted, although they’re in storage right now and have yet to look within the new membership, Juliano mentioned.

Little stays in any other case from the Copacabana’s sprawling authentic East sixtieth location apart from the identify and the legacy Juliano stays decided to hold on right now.

“It’s a fabulous history. I’d be ashamed if the Copacabana disappeared.”

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