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Copacabana

Lynda Moyo goes back to her baseless Latino roots at Manchester's answer to Miami

Written by . Published on June 18th 2008.


Copacabana

Something unprecedented happened in 1999. Aside from the Kosovo war, planet Earth was set alight by an unexpected Latino invasion. Don't pretend you don't know how to do the 'Macarena' or recite every word of 'Mambo Number Five'.

These red-blooded firecrackers have a fresh pair of Cuban heels on and are ready and waiting to feel the rhythm of the night with you, mamacita.

This was the year when smart marketing met musical heritage. Music artists across the globe, from Bogotá to Bognor Regis, were frantically scraping the bottom of the barrel for the dregs of their diaspora. Everyone was claiming a Latin musical root and what's more, it worked.

Almost a decade on and the heat has subsided. Mainstream stars such as Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera are now popping out babies instead of pop songs. Ricky Martin is probably still living la vida loca in a closet somewhere in San Juan, and the most exciting thing we can take from Enrique Iglesias of late is his mole, which he had surgically removed.

While wandering the streets of the Northern Quarter in the slightly less exotic Manchester, I stumbled upon Copacabana on Dale Street. I don't know if it was the infectious beats or memories of my end-of-college girly holiday to Playa de las Américas in Tenerife (classy birds on tour), but something urged me to venture toward the sun.

The first thing to be noted about Copacabana is its assertion. Bar staff can't wait to serve you. The DJ can't wait to switch musical styles every few minutes. And for women, men simply can't wait to ask you to dance. I'm not referring to a quick ass-slap and awkward shuffle through the midst of the smoke and lasers to 'I like to move it, move it' with a lager lout in a t-shirt with the slogan 'I'd FCUK me'. Oh no, no, no. These red-blooded firecrackers have a fresh pair of Cuban heels on and are ready and waiting to feel the rhythm of the night with you, mamacita.

“Feel the music, Leeeenda. Your body was made for this, sexy mulatta,” my first dance partner whispered in my ear. Apparently my ambiguous features suggest I am of Cuban or Brazilian origin. “Steady on Tarquin, West Side Story I am not. Moss Side, maybe.”

The thing is, feeling the music isn't a problem. Avoiding the Latinized cross-over stars, Copacabana plays the real deal with the odd Shakira rump shaker thrown in for commercial effect.

The difficulty arises when you find yourself partnered up with the Manchester equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli. There comes a point where you just have to take the bull by the horns. “No I don't want you to keep twizzing me round like a jewellery box ballerina in fifth gear. Back up Bruno.” Our hands parted and I was once again the brown girl in the ring of fire. One blink later and the salseros had closed in on me for round two. Ayúdame!

Yes I may look the part, but beneath the equivocal exterior lies a very British, very Northern, tough nun, as my editor keeps telling me. So on the frigidity-factor scale, this may as well have been a naked, erotic village barn dance. All the over-familiar waist gripping and insistent hand-holding made me want to reach for the anti-bacterial hand gel. A mid-dance refreshment at the bar made for a pleasant temporary retreat from the bull ring. Mojitos (£3.50), Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri (£3.90) and Frozen Margarita (£3.90) are the favourites.

Having finally mastered a salsa that didn't involve a bumper pack of cool original Doritios, 237,000 songs back-to-back later, this Lynderella was ready to ditch the slippers and overly enthusiastic Tarquins for the night. Luckily this was easy, because you see these men don't care if you don't fall at their feet, they just care that you don't fall on their feet when you're dancing. And with that in mind, Copacabana is definitely the place to go for a night of free-flowing fun and fandango. I will most definitely be back.

Copacabana
Dale House
35 Dale Street
Manchester
M1 2HF
0161 237 3441

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

bleechJune 18th 2008.

very witting mulatta... hip to waist..its innate!

LATINA LOVERJune 18th 2008.

Wonderful article! I may just check this place out! Thanks Leeeenda!

bleechJune 18th 2008.

very witting mulatta... hip to waist..its innate!

crazyjohnJune 18th 2008.

Why did I push my latin lover over the cliff? Tequila

horny stud mega dancerJune 18th 2008.

Leeenda! my little bit of juicy churascarria, come dance with me and I will personally take you all the way to heaven. Yes!

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