The Last Puerto Rican Social Club in Brooklyn


Carl-Johan Karlsson | Longreads | October 2018 | 13 minutes (3,603 words)

Nestled within the brown, red, and yellow gingerbread houses that line Williamsburg’s Grand Street in Brooklyn, Toñita’s (technically named Caribbean Social Club) is easy to miss, unless you spot the neon Corona sign and the weathered sticker that says We’re open. Inside, there’s a disco ball, a reindeer head mounted on the wall, and a palm tree wrapped in Christmas tinsel. A pool table surrounded by plastic chairs stands in the center of the wood-patterned vinyl floor. Photos of baseball players in eclectic frames festoon the walls. Gilt baseball trophies jostle one another on high shelves. The biggest frame is dedicated to Roberto Clemente — the sainted Puerto Rican right fielder who died in a plane crash in 1972. On the walls, posters for salsa shows and domino tournaments compete for space. A wooden plaque — from…

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