Cuban Club, Tampa

  • By: Timothy Rose
  • Date: 20 January 2024
  • Time to read: 6 min.


An architectural jewel nestled in Tampa’s Ybor City, the Cuban Club, or El Circulo Cubano de Tampa, stands as a testament to the city’s vibrant cultural history. But beyond its captivating architecture and cultural significance, the Cuban Club is also famous for its resident spirits, making it one of Tampa’s most intriguing haunted locations.

History of the Cuban Club

In the vibrant heart of Tampa’s Ybor City, the Cuban Club, also known as “Circulo Cubano de Tampa,” stands as a testament to the Cuban immigrant community’s rich cultural legacy. Established in 1917, the Cuban Club was built as a mutual aid society, offering a sense of community, assistance, and recreation for the thousands of Cuban immigrants who had settled in the area.

Cuban Club, Tampa
Cuban Club, Tampa – Credit Onasill – Bill Badzo

From its inception, the Cuban Club was more than just a meeting place. It was a cultural hub, offering a variety of social services, including educational programs, a pharmacy, a library, and even a hospital to its members. The four-story building housed a grand theatre, ballroom, cantina, and gymnasium, reflecting the community’s zest for arts, culture, and socializing. It was here that members gathered for mutual support, to enjoy performances, or to celebrate life’s milestones.

The Cuban Club played a pivotal role in fostering the cultural and social identity of Tampa’s Cuban community. Its commitment to maintaining and promoting Cuban heritage made it a vital institution in Ybor City. In its heyday, the club was renowned for hosting extravagant parties, music concerts, theatrical performances, and community events that drew attendees from across Florida and beyond.

Despite a period of decline in the mid-20th century, the Cuban Club has been lovingly restored and continues to be an active cultural center. Today, the Cuban Club still echoes the vibrant rhythms of its past, hosting a range of events from festivals and concerts to weddings and corporate gatherings. Its rich history and enduring cultural significance earned it a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The Cuban Club remains a beloved icon in Tampa, preserving the spirit of its Cuban roots while welcoming a diverse modern community.

A Deadly Encounter

In the decade known for its prosperity, jazz music, and flapper culture, the 1920s were a time of excitement and transformation. However, amid the dazzling parties and dynamic social changes, the period was also marked by its share of violence and turmoil.

A dramatic example of this darker side took place at the Cuban Club in Ybor City, Tampa. It was in the mid-1920s when a heated dispute took an unexpected and tragic turn, forever marking the Club’s history. The incident occurred on the Club’s cantina stage, an area usually reserved for joyous celebrations, lively music, and spirited dance performances.

Cuban Club Tampa
Still rocking – Credit Meline Gharibyan

The dispute began between two members of the Club during a card game. As tensions rose, the argument spiraled out of control. One member, apparently feeling threatened or disgraced, drew his firearm, a common item in a time when disputes were often settled ‘the old way’. In a fit of anger, he fired at the other man, ending the quarrel with a single, fatal gunshot.

The victim fell onto the cantina stage, his life abruptly ended in front of fellow club members. This shocking act of violence left the Club in a state of stunned disbelief, creating a somber shadow over the typically vibrant atmosphere.

The incident had lasting repercussions for the Cuban Club. Besides the immediate shock and sorrow surrounding the tragic event, the violent act left a lingering unease that permeated the Club’s halls. Tales of this shocking event have echoed through the decades, fueling rumors of spectral presences and contributing to the Cuban Club’s reputation as a hotspot for paranormal activity.

Haunting Legends and Supernatural Phenomena

Following the grim incident of the 1920s, an eerie atmosphere began to envelop the Cuban Club. Stories of paranormal encounters started to circulate, adding a layer of intrigue and mystery to this cultural hub.

Many believe that the restless spirit of the man shot on the cantina stage still lingers. Visitors and staff have reported seeing an apparition on the stage and hearing unexplained sounds reminiscent of a card game being played. Some have even claimed to hear the distinct sound of a single gunshot, echoing the violent confrontation that occurred decades ago.

Along with the victim of the 1920s shooting, other spirits are believed to reside in the Cuban Club. One such spirit is that of an actress who allegedly performed at the Club’s theatre. Reports suggest that her apparition has been seen weeping in the dressing rooms, seemingly lost in her own world of eternal sorrow.

The most chilling tale, perhaps, involves the spirit of a young boy, believed to be about 8 or 9 years old. This child tragically drowned in a small pool located on the Cuban Club property. Today, many claim to hear the sound of a bouncing ball throughout the building, which is often attributed to the playful spirit of the young boy. Some have even reported seeing the apparition of a child playing around the area where the pool once stood.

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Popular Culture and Media Coverage

With a rich history and rumored spectral activity, the Cuban Club in Tampa, Florida, affectionately known as “Cuban Club,” has had a considerable impact on pop culture and media. This striking edifice, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is reputed to be one of the most haunted locations in the city.

Notably, the Cuban Club has been featured in several paranormal television series including the hit show “Ghost Hunters,” where investigators spent a night exploring the premises and reported experiencing several inexplicable events. This coverage has significantly amplified the club’s reputation as a hotspot for the supernatural, attracting both curious locals and paranormal enthusiasts from far and wide.

Investigation and Research Efforts

The Cuban Club has been the focus of numerous paranormal investigations. Some investigators have claimed to capture EVPs and unexplained images, and have experienced sudden equipment malfunctions. Skeptics, however, question the authenticity of these phenomena, suggesting they may be influenced by the site’s storied past.

Visitor Experiences and Urban Legends

Visitors to the Club often share their personal experiences of inexplicable incidents, ranging from sudden feelings of unease to direct ghostly encounters. These first-hand accounts have contributed to the rich tapestry of urban legends associated with this historic building.

Credit – bike81

Preservation and Tourism

The Cuban Club, now on the National Register of Historic Places, is a popular venue for events and performances. Regular guided tours offer glimpses into the building’s rich past and haunting present, attracting history aficionados and ghost hunters alike.


The Cuban Club serves as a vibrant link to Tampa’s cultural heritage while offering an intriguing brush with the unknown. This perfect blend of history and hauntings has cemented its place as a unique and enticing destination in the heart of Florida.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Cuban Club, Tampa

Q1: Where is the Cuban Club located?
The Club is located in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa, Florida.

Q2: Can I visit the Cuban Club?
Yes, the Club is open to the public for events and performances, and guided tours are also available.

Q3: What kind of paranormal activities have been reported at the Cuban Club?
Reports include apparitions, unexplained sounds, cold spots, and instances of poltergeist phenomena.

Q4: Has the Cuban Club been featured in any media?
Yes, the Club has been covered in paranormal television shows, documentaries, and ghost hunting publications.

Q5: Are there skeptics about the hauntings at the Cuban Club?
Yes, some skeptics question the validity of the reported paranormal phenomena, suggesting that they may be influenced by the site’s history and cultural significance.

Q6: How is the Cuban Club preserved today?
The Club is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and continues to operate as a popular venue for events and performances.

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