Thursday, February 17, 2011

Danzon, pt. 1

Three weeks ago a cool conversation took place at our house. Two folks who had not seen each other for decades chatted about a partnership that led to the Danzon supper club in the late 40s. Danny Castro, who is a vibrant 90, chatted away with Sergio Lopez, the son of his former partner who is now deceased. After the pictures and posters, questions and facts were shared for almost 4 hours.

Sergio De Karlo was a Havana born actor, composer, and musician who had spent time in Mexico and Hollywood before coming to live in Pasadena. Danny Castro was a natural born entrepeneur who came to town via a stint in the CCCs and then stayed in Pasadena. The two met at Danny's Cafe in what we now know as Old Pasadena.

Sergio had a student, Marie T. Wall, a widow who lived in Altadena. She owned a building on East Union. Some business meetings took place among Marie, Danny and Sergio, then Danzon was established. It started out as a dance studio, then added a dinner element, followed by live entertainment, and finally had broadcasts via KWKW. Danny's wife, Stella, took reservations and Sergio's wife, Gracy, performed.

All of this was underwritten by Marie. Night after she would sit at her table, eating her dinner - pet dog by her side - enjoying the energy in the room. It seemed that having a place to go to at night brightened Marie's life. And then the accountant said, "Marie, we need to talk".

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