Grevel Lindop

Poet, biographer, critic, essayist and writer on just about everything

Goodbye Copacabana!

imagesBE8OHZ0UOn Friday and Saturday (4 and 5 April) Manchester’s Copacabana Club is having two big parties – then closing its doors for the last time. Sadly I’ll be away but I couldn’t let it happen without saying that Copacabana changed my life, and that of many other people in Manchester and around the world.

I went to my first salsa class there in 2001 – I describe the occasion at the start of my book Travels on the Dance Floor and it was the beginning of a new era for me. Not only did I learn to dance; I met hundreds of new friends, developed an interest in a rich new world of music, and it led me to visit Cuba and travel over much of Latin America.

Copas, as we called it, was the focus of Manchester’s Latin music scene. It was a meeting-place for people from every country in the world and Amanda and I went there almost every Wednesday night for more than ten years.

I doubt if there’ll ever be another place like it in Manchester. The only club ever to rival its deep cultural effects is probably the Hacienda – and at Copas people learned to do real dancing, dancing that was an art and a form of communication as well as ecstatic fun.

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And it brought over a galaxy of Cuban bands to play live. Even Manolito Simonet played there in the great days.

Salsa will go on at many places in Manchester, but there’ll never be another place like the Copacabana. I went there on Wednesday to say a final goodbye to the place, and o a HUGE thank you to Christian, the owner, and to Copacabana itself. If you can get there tonight or tomorrow, for the final parties, please do. It’ll be something to remember when the Copacabana is just another piece of Manchester musical history.

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