Imagine you've escaped to a tropical island while you are indulging in food and drink featuring a Cuban flair, lots of lively music and applauding the smooth moves of salsa dancers, all part of the festive Havana Nights event in January 2019 when Cuba comes to West Tampa.

Don your dancing shoes, dress in your favorite guayabera shirt and get ready to take a time trip back to Old Havana without boarding a cruise ship or airplane.

This blast from the past takes place at a historic West Tampa building that once housed the A. Santaella Cigar Company which produced fine cigars that were lit up by such luminaries as Winston Churchill and Babe Ruth.

Now known as the Ampersand Event Center, this more than century-old venue will be where plenty of shaking, mixing and pouring will be going on at more than 15 drink stations. Featured cocktails include such classics as mojitos, the Cuba Libre and pina coladas. The Cuban “rum and coke,” Cuba Libre, originated when Coca-Cola started shipping its soft drinks to Cuba in 1900.

The menu offers a tantalizing assortment of empanadas, croquettes, black beans and rice, Cuban and roasted pork sandwiches plus chicken and yellow rice. An entire dessert station will be loaded up with all sorts of sweet treats.

Of course, the crowd is sure to work up a hunger and thirst that evening as everyone moves to the music performed, and presented by, the Salsa Podium Dancers, La Hora Loca Salsa Ensemble, a DJ and more.

General admission tickets purchased by Nov. 30 are $35 and $45 at the door. All general admission tickets provide event access from 7:30 - 10:30 p.m. VIP tickets are $75 if purchased in advance and offer access to a private VIP area from 6 - 7 p.m., plus other perks like additional food and cocktail selections, commemorative swag and more. 

Rounding out the activities available to all are a cigar bar, domino tables, classic cars, a fashion show and an art exhibition.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Social Awareness Foundation and its “No Texting and Driving” awareness campaign.

Want to find other fun events coming up throughout Tampa Bay? Simply register at 813area or 727area. It's easy and free!