Welcome to the Cuban Club in Tampa, Florida, a place which the Travel Channel has named one of its ten most haunted places.
And rightly so, considering the murders and suicides which have happened here.
Updated 2/10/2020 – Originally founded in 1902 as a club for Cuban immigrants (most of whom were in the cigar-making industry) Cuban Club – or Circulo Cubano de Tampa – burned down in 1916, and was rebuilt a year later.
The club was owned by various groups of board members (one of whom committed the infamous murder aforementioned by shooting another board member in the face) until the mid-1990’s, when due to financial decline it was finally turned into a non-profit organization.
The suicide took place sometime in the twenties, according to legend.
The Suicidal Actor at Tampa’s Cuban Club
Also according to legend – and this is the juicy part – the actor in question did it while on stage in front of an audience.
Talk about your dramatic exit.
The man I meet is Raul, and he is not only of Cuban descent, but also claims that he is the direct descendant of a former member of the club from way back in the old days.
He meets me for lunch, and I notice he checks his phone a lot to see what time it is.
We do not talk for long.
“The actor’s name,” he says, “is supposedly Vincent. White guy.”
He laughs a little. “I know, shocker at that time, right?
“Well, if you believe the stories – and I do – he could speak English and Spanish fluently.
“I believe the stories because I’ve met the puto.
“He scared the bejesus out of me.
I go there two, three times a year.
“Take my wife to see a little theater, have a little dinner, drink a little wine…you get the idea.
“It’s not like I ever knew my great-grandfather, who was a member; he kicked over long before I came around.
“But I guess it’s kind of nostalgic anyway, you know.
Locals are shy to speak about the things they may or may not have witnessed…
“So, last year we’re there, and for the life of me I can’t even remember what we were going to see.
“I duck out to go to the bathroom for a minute; I was actually going to gargle one of those little travel Scope bottles because I thought I was gonna get lucky that night.
“But I no more than got in the bathroom than this crazy suicide actor just appears in the mirror, then walks right out of it and into the bathroom.
“I’m standing there with my heart trying to exit my chest, and this guy starts giving me his whole story, first in English and then Spanish, and then a mix of both.
“On and on about how he’d tried to be a great actor, but failed, and ended up working in this crazy place.
“He got right in my face, and I could smell his breath.
“It smelled like a thousand dead things as he ranted and raved.
“Finally, he smiled and said, ‘Give me one good reason to not kill myself.'”
What did you do? I am honestly curious.
Raul gets up, drops some cash on the table, and walks away.
He pauses long enough to look over his shoulder at me.
“I gave him the bottle of Scope.”