The Glorious Legend of
THE HARLEM IN HAVANA REVUE
The Best Damn Girl Show on the Midway!
Youʼre gonna see Annie shake her fanny,
Kelly shake her belly and
A stage presentation of 'colored' music, dance and comedy, Leon Claxton’s HARLEM IN HAVANA Revue was the leading attraction on Royal American Shows carnival exhibition for nearly four decades of the 20th century (1936 to 1967). During the height of its popularity, Harlem in Havana financially toppled the competition, smashed industry records and garnered nation-wide and international publicity as one of the finest revues ever presented under canvas. Combining the best professional acts from the U.S. and Cuba, Claxton’s popular attraction introduced a live orchestra playing Blues, Jazz, early R&B, Rock-n-Roll and Afro-Cuban music. a chorus-line of brown skin showgirls performing exotic, rumba, salsa and calypso dances.
Arguably the hallmark girl show revue in North America, Claxton’s popular midway attraction introduced a chorus-line of brown skin showgirls performing exotic, rumba, salsa and calypso dances. Accompanied by an endless array of vaudeville headliners and zany comedians, these ladies competed for a box office just a tent away from White burlesque icons Gypsy Rose Lee, Sally Rand, and a host of other all-white Las Vegas-style cabaret shows. Culminating into an hour+ long stage extravaganza, the wildly popular show consistently left billions of fairgoers across the U.S. and Western Canada amazed. The popularity of Claxton’s show was comparable to that of Ringling Bros. Greatest Show on Earth, Harlem’s famed Cotton Club, Havana’s sizzling hot Tropicana nightclub, and Broadway’s lavish theatre girl production, The Ziegfeld Follies.
Touring company and training for the future heavyweights of American entertainment, Harlem in Havana was a needed platform during a time when mainstream entertainment was closed to blacks and other performers of color. Labeled a 'jig show' by the outdoor entertainment industry and media of the day, Harlem in Havana, nevertheless, rose above the segregated stage and achieved mainstream and international recognition.
Most Notably, Claxton’s show was for African American audiences during a time when mainstream entertainment was off limits to Blacks. Claxton's showcase attracted brown-skin émigrés from all over the Caribbean whose work was promptly absorbed into mainstream America. Harlem in Havana was headquartered in Tampa, Florida for nearly forty years. For the many patrons across North America who witnessed the one of a kind spectacle, and still remember it today, Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana will forever be one of the greatest outdoor attractions in North American traveling carnival history.
- Learn about Leon Claxton
- View a list of Past Performers
- Learn about the Show Route
- Learn about the Feature Documentary Film project
- Visit the Harlem in Havana store
- Contact us today