A eulogy to Salon Canning

The closure of Salon Canning sounds so terribly wrong even as a written phrase, let alone a reality. Yet it’s true: the most famous milonga venue in the world has closed its doors to tango.

I first heard the news as a rumour, without any linked source, so Googled ‘Salon Canning closing.’ In a bittersweet moment, the first hit was to one of my own blog posts

I don’t know the full story as yet, but the news was confirmed by both Milonga Parakultural and A Puro Tango on their respective Facebook pages.

It might sound over the top to be writing a eulogy for a place I danced in half a dozen times, and I’ll be first to admit that the reason it held such a special place in my mind was its legendary status. The first time I ever walked through its doors, it felt like I was walking into a place of myth and legend.

But the reason it has such a special place in my heart is what happened after walking through the doors. Within an incredibly short time, it transformed from an intimidating pista way above my tango pay-grade to a place which felt like my tango home.

While the standard of dancing there was very high, it was also a place where people valued three things above all else: the warmth of the embrace, musicality, and good floorcraft. The dance there was simple, understated. And while the general standard of technique was well above my own, making space for the follower’s dance seemed to make up the difference.

Of course, a venue is one thing, a milonga another. I’m sure that Parakultural will remain as wonderful as ever in its new home – and that home is itself another favourite venue, Marabú.

All the same, my own memory is very strongly linked to places. That corridor, the wonderful floor, the mural the size of a small town, the amazing music – most especially the delicious wave after wave of Troilo in the early hours. And yep, that magical night of the other dancers gradually fading away until Tina and I had the floor to ourselves.

Canning started in my mind as a legend, and it’s strange to think that for future generations of dancers, it will never be anything else.

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