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Copacabana (often referred to as The Copa) was a famous New York Citymarker nightclub. Many entertainers, among them Danny Thomas, Pat Cooper and the comedy team of Martin and Lewis, made their debuts at the Copacabana. The 1978 Barry Manilow song "Copacabana" is named for and about the nightclub, and part of the 2003 Yerba Buena song "Guajira" is set there. The Copa was used as a setting in the films Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Tootsie, Carlito's Way and Beyond the Sea, as well as several plays, including Barry Manilow 's Copacabana .

The Copacabana is temporarily housed at Columbus 72, at Columbus Avenue and 72nd Street.


The club opened November 10, 1940 at 10 East 60th Street in New York City. Although Monte Proser's name was on the lease, he had a powerful partner: mob boss Frank Costello. Costello put Jules Podell on the scene to look after his interests, and within a few years Proser was out and Podell was the official owner.

Podell originally had a strict "no blacks" policy. In 1944 Harry Belafonte was banned from the Copacabana. He was in the U.S. Navy at the time, and was denied entry with a date. Eventually Podell was persuaded to change his policy, and Belafonte returned in the 1950s as a headliner at the club. Sam Cooke performed there on July 8, 1964, resulting in the LP Sam Cooke at the Copa, Sammy Davis Jr. shattered attendance records with his run in May 1964, and in 1965 The Supremes made their debut there in July, resulting in Motown Records booking The Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas, Marvin Gaye in the next few years.

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were frequent performers at the club, and did their last performance there as well, on July 25, 1956.

This nightclub achieved a degree of notoriety due to a May 16, 1957 incident involving members of the New York Yankees. One evening, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Hank Bauer, Yogi Berra, Johnny Kucks and Billy Martin of the Yankees, along with the wives of the former five arrived at the nightclub to celebrate Martin's birthday. Sammy Davis, Jr. happened to be the headliner. During the performance, a group of bowlers, apparently intoxicated, started to interfere with Davis' act, even hurling racial slurs at him. This behavior incensed the Yankees, especially Martin, since his club roommate was catcher Elston Howard, the first African American to join the Yankees. Tensions erupted between the two factions, and the resulting fracas made newspaper headlines. Several of the Yankees were fined. One of the bowlers sued Bauer for aggravated assault, but Bauer was found not guilty.

In the mid-1970s, the Copa became a discothèque. It was closed for three years in the 1970s after the owner died.

In 1992, then-owner Peter Dorn moved the club from its original location of over 50 years, to 617 West 57th Street. Dorn charged landlord Nicola Blase with "not liking Hispanics," the stated reason for the move.

In 2001, the club was forced to move a third time to W. 34th Street and Eleventh Avenue on the west side of Manhattanmarker, when its landlord terminated its lease early to build office towers on the site. It has presented mostly Hip-Hop and Salsa acts since then.

On January 20, 2007, the club announced that it would have to move by July 1 because its current location was condemned due to the planned expansion of the IRT Flushing Line ( ) of the New York City Subway. June 30 of the same year was the last night the club was open with El Gran Combo performing. The owners plan to reopen the club once a suitable new location is found. In the meantime, the club is sharing space with the Columbus 72 nightclub, both of which have the same owners.

Notable Headliners




  1. Late Edition (East Coast).

See also

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