Sweet’s Ballroom, the historic big-band venue in downtown Oakland, appears to finally be getting some new life, and it will be called Tropicana. The new owners are Robert Simpson and onetime San Jose nightclub impresario Harry Avanessian (Studio 47, Club Havana). The ballroom was opened by William Sweet in 1920 at 1933 Broadway, and it became a hugely popular nightlife venue throughout the big-band era and World War II. Band leaders like Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Xavier Cugat performed there, and Sweet continued to operate the place with his brother Eugene until 1965. In recent years the space has been underused, despite a renovation a few years back, though it’s been rented out occasionally as a special-event and wedding venue. In 2010, Sweet’s was the sight of a shooting during a Halloween party that injured nine people.
And while we doubt that Avanessian and Simpson’s plans for the Tropicana will look anything like Wham!’s version, shown below, we leave you with this vision of a young George Michael floating in a pool with a colorful cocktail.