“Tucson’s Heart and Soul: El Casino Ballroom” documentary finished and re-debuting at El Casino Ballroom at first “Fiesta El Casino.”

“Tucson’s Heart and Soul: El Casino Ballroom” documentary finished and re-debuting at El Casino Ballroom at first “Fiesta El Casino.”


For 65 years Tucson’s legendary El Casino Ballroom has been home plate for the festivities of Tucson’s Latino population and the rest of the city.

Its iconic dance floor – the biggest in Arizona – shouldered fans of everyone from Mexican film stars Pedro Infante, Maria Felix and Lola Beltran to Fats Domino, James Brown and many more. It housed clubs for the Mexican community, served up dances every Saturday night and created lifelong memories for generations of Tucsonans.

(Click here to go to the KUAT profile on the documentary)

(Click here for Tucson Weekly writer Mari Herreras’  preview)

It was the headquarters of Arizona’s Tejano music scene in the genre’s infancy and the place where such local greats as Love LTD and Adalberto got their start.

In the 1980s KXCI launched its game changing House Rockin’ series at El Casino, bringing throngs of zydeco, blues and world music fans to its sprung dance floor.

“El Casino Ballroom doesn’t make money, it makes memories,” says Luis Cruz, one of the crew members who helped restore El Casino.

It’s a story of family, community, and a coming together of people, after its roof blew off in 1991, to rebuild the place of their memories. It’s a story of music and love, of countless weddings, quinceaneras, political rallies and community celebrations of every sort, told by the people who lived it.

Film maker Daniel Buckley spent 18 months shooting at El Casino Ballroom, interviewing patrons and performers, restoration crew members and families, distilling a bit of 65 years into 65 minutes. A well-received work-in-progress version debuted to a huge crowd at the Fox Theatre in August as parts of its Cine Plaza series.

Now the completed film will be seen where it all took place, at El Casino Ballroom, as part of the first Fiesta El Casino celebration. Proceeds will go to continue the restoration effort and restore the ballroom to its pre-storm size.

Producer Daniel Buckley

Producer Daniel Buckley

After the film is shown the party will roll on into the night with local favorites Los Nawdy Dawgs, Relente and Suerte ready to heat up the dance floor. In addition singer Joe Ahumada will join Relente to recreate some of former house band Love LTD’s trademark sound.

DVDs of the film will be on hand for sale for $20 each.


What:Fiesta El Casino

When: Saturday, December 8, 6 p.m. (doors open at 5)

Where: El Casino Ballroom, 437 E. 26th St.

Donation: $5 at the door for the El Casino Restoration Fund

Press info:

Daniel Buckley, producer –  dbtucson@gmail.com




Hall information:

520) 623-1865




Suerte: http://tucsontejano.com/band.html

Relente: http://www.myspace.com/relenteband

Los Nawdy Dawgs: http://www.losnawdydawgs.net/


For more info go to http://www.danielbuckleyarts.com/home/bios/daniel-buckley-documentary-maker/cine-plaza-at-the-fox/el-casino-ballroom-documentary/,

The El Casino Documentary blog – http://www.danielbuckleyarts.com/category/el-casino-ballroom-documentary/

or the El Casino Ballroom documentary Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/ElCasinoBallroomDocumentaryProject?fref=ts


This project was supported in part by a PLACE Initiative grant from the Tucson Pima Arts Council and was completed in partnership with the Fox Theatre, KXCI Radio, The CHISPA Foundation, The Latin American Social Club, El Casino Ballroom and the Arizona Historical Society.


~ by Daniel Buckley on November 21, 2012.

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