The Copa Cherry Grove 1980-81.

THE COPA Cherry Grove Est. 1980-81.



Like a shooting star The Copa nightclub arrived in Cherry Grove and lit up the night. Night life that is. Like the Pavilion in the Pines that was built on the site of the Sandpiper, it was built on the site of the former Sea Shack.


Construction on former Sea Shack to Copa in 1979.

Creating major competition for the Ice Palace as not only a Disco, but a grand entertainment space. Situated parallel to the Ice Palace it faced the ocean giving it’s outdoor decks a sweeping view.

Opening for the season in 1980 it was an immediate hit…

Jumping into the Cherry Grove party scene it catered to all.


The Parties got bigger and better…








Singer Grace Jones performs at this party The COPA.

After a banner season, in May of 1981 a mysterious fire takes it all away. Was is too much competition, too many parties, or just too much of everything gay…

After all was said and done all that remained was the fireplace from the original Sea Shack reminding all of what came before.


Waiter Michael Trillo.


Waiter Michael Trillo remembers:

“The COPA owners John Castelli and Bill operated The COPA in Fort Lauderdale and decided to open a venue on Fire Island. The restaurant was managed by Brian. I started in May as a prep cook then eventually became a cocktail waiter during Tea on the ocean view deck. The Copa was not a success. They spent thousands to decorate the Masked Ball and Grace Jones was there, but the party was a flop. I know I was there and the Ice Palace was packed every Saturday while the Copa attracted mostly straight crowd from Ocean Beach. I eventually worked at THE WIZ the clothing store beneath the club. The venue burnt down at the end of the 1980 season many rumors exist about its cause however there was a small fire in the dorms under the nightclub in July an ominous omen of things to come. Singer Irene Cara performed one afternoon with Divine in attendance there were some moments, but The Pavilion opened that year and that was truly the beginning of a legendary nightclub.”

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