El Tucan Miami Takes Flight
By Chip Harrison
The hubbub was heavy in downtown Brickell as I stepped off the metro rail near El Tucan Miami. A distant trumpet blast pointed the way and I pushed through the ocean of bow ties and flapper gowns towards the entrance. With a tip of the doorman’s hat I was transported back in time. Amid the dapper dandies and woman donning ornate headpieces, the world of Cuban Caberet at El Tucan Miami is a beautiful sight to behold.
The main foyer opens into a stunning show room ornate with Moorish embellishments and cascading archways. Palm trees and lavish curtains compliment a main stage surrounded by cocktail tables adorned in white. Red velvet booths complete the illusion. The band struck a note and I couldn’t fight the urge to grab a martini and join in the fray. Making my way to the main bar, I was taken aback by the detail in the marble trim. The bar’s tropical accents and a fabulously baroque chandelier made me swirl my glass with a bit of added swagger.
Ascending the stairway to the second floor, I stumbled upon a gaggle of showgirls lounging in a 1920’s style sitting room. Now drunk on nostalgia (and vodka) I sat gleefully on high and gazed out at the impressive line up of entertainment. Talent like Albita, Tito Puent Jr. and Freddie King fed into the old- timy impetus of the house. El Tucán’s resident 11-piece orchestra, carefully curated by Grammy award-winning pianist, composer, and producer Marlow Rosado, commands an energy and style reminiscent of the big bands era of the 40s and 50s. It wasn’t long before both entertainer and guest were lost in the whirlwind of musical whimsy. There was an even an appearance by youtube sensation Puddles Pity Party, famous for his cover of modern songs in the classic guise.
It is this same classic guise that the modern Miami so sorely needs- class being the defining root of that word. In a crowded city full of homogenous electronic venues, it’s refreshing to reignite the vigor of this bygone era. Cuban Cabaret was once an integral part of our city’s nightlife. El Tucan Miami serves as a passport back to that world. If anything, its something magnanimous amid a party landscape that idolizes dub step, t-shirts, and bottle service. Suiting up for a dinner and a show is an experience. And even if you simply stop by for a cocktail, as you twirl your girl around the dance floor and pop another bottle of champagne, you’ll quickly find yourself snapping your fingers and having a hell of a good time.
El Tucan Miami shook on into the night, and as I made my way towards the exit I stumble through yet another portal. In the true speakeasy fashion behind an unassuming door at the back of the house is an entirely different venue- the magical Marion Restaurant. While only seen at a glance, I could already foresee a future love affair. That review soon to come.