What do you hope your die-hard fans will get out of your residency? What do you have in store for them?
To perform in Vegas is definitely an honor. [Think about] folks like Elvis and Sinatra, and all the amazing names that have been to Vegas. Also, Vegas is deeply rooted in our [Cuban] culture. The idea of Vegas was spawned from Havana. [Right] before the revolution happened is basically when Vegas took off. It’s great and amazing for me to be a part of this platform.
As far as the die-hard fans and what to expect? What they’re going to get is energy, an escape for at least an hour and a half—not to think about bills, or all the other negative things in their lives—and hopefully, they leave motivated and inspired. As far as preparation, it’s real simple: We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. It’s all about adding on to what we have and giving it that little Vegas remix. We’ve been looking at the different stages and different setups, what the dancers are going to wear, what they’re not going to wear—hopefully they don’t wear much. They’re going to be up there sexy and sophisticated.
More importantly, what are you going to wear? You have this reputation, and you always come dressed to the nines. How do you manage to stay cool under that tux?
I love coming up looking real clean and sharp, and then getting sweaty and crazy because that’s what it’s all about—having a great time. When you’re up in the club looking sharp but you’re dancing and having a good time, you’re going to be looking kind of a mess. That’s a good thing because I want to show the people that I’m working for them and how much I really enjoy being up there performing. That way they can walk away and say that guy is a hard worker.
You recently announced that you’re going to open a Sports Leadership and Management Academy charter school in Vegas, something you did in Miami in 2013. How has sports and leadership contributed to your success?
[Participating in] sports is important because it creates discipline. It creates punctuality. You understand what it means to work for a team. It also creates resourcefulness. When you throw all those things in a pot, that’s what allows you to become a leader. And the only way to lead is to lead by example. [I want] to mold their minds and teach them how to believe in themselves, how to work hard and how they can accomplish anything as long as they envision it.
It’s amazing to see what a young mind can accomplish. We want them to be excited about education. So what better way than to be doing algebra and have it based around football, baseball or basketball. And it’s been amazing for us. The school we have in Miami is a high-B school; we took all the kids in D and F schools, and now they’re in a high-B school. I’m sure it’ll be an A school this year. It’s the priceless part of the journey to help people really believe in themselves, to inspire and motivate them. That’s when you can create—and I mean this in the nicest way possible—little monsters. That’s what I’m very excited about.
Speaking of your journey, have you had a chance to visit Cuba?
I went in 2001. I won’t be going back until it is completely free, and then we’ll be there doing a concert. I think 3 to 4 million people will be out there to watch that. And I can’t wait to live that dream for everybody who had to leave the country.
Have you thought about putting down deeper roots in Vegas?
The thing about the residency is that it is a temporary residency. I’m hoping that—well, I know it—will lead to a permanent residency. So I love Vegas, and I love to be out there.
Ricky Martin was just in Vegas. Are you going to call him and ask him for advice?
No. I mean, Ricky is great, and he’s given me the best advice in the world. He taught me to live la vida loca.
Who is a better dancer, you or Enrique Iglesias?
Ricky is a better dancer, but Jennifer [Lopez] is the ultimate dancer. Enrique? I can definitely outdance Enrique.
Planet Hollywood, 9 p.m. Sept. 25, 16, 30; Oct. 2, 3, 7; $39-$169, 702-777-6737.