The tango industry, which thrives on close physical contact and partner exchanges, is particularly vulnerable to COVID restrictions.



Couples dance the tango during a demonstration demanding that they be allowed to practice outdoors amid ongoing restrictions due to rising new coronavirus cases in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Saturday, May 29, 2021. Since the pandemic hit the country, tango is a must-see part of Argentine culture has been suspended to stop the wave of COVID-19 infections. (AP Photo / Natacha Pisarenko)



Close up of couples

Couples dance the tango during a demonstration demanding that they be allowed to practice outdoors amid ongoing restrictions due to rising new coronavirus cases in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Saturday, May 29, 2021. Since the pandemic hit the country, tango is a must-see part of Argentine culture has been suspended to stop the wave of COVID-19 infections. (AP Photo / Natacha Pisarenko)



Couple tango outside

Since the coronavirus pandemic struck Argentina, the tango has been suspended to stop the wave of infections from the virus that has claimed 90,000 lives in the country. Recently, couples flocked to the streets of Buenos Aires to dance the tango, an integral part of the country’s culture, to protest for permission to perform outdoors.

By D√ČBORA REY The Associated Press

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Tables are stacked in a huge ballroom in a basement in Buenos Aires. On the orchestra stage, the piano lid is closed near disconnected speakers and poster images of tango celebrities.

The empty, dark dance floor in the Viruta Tango Club is a symbol of the pandemic-induced crisis of dancers and musicians in an art form that is known for close physical contact and the exchange of partners.

Like other venues of its kind, Club Viruta has been closed since March 8, 2020, around the time the Argentine authorities imposed a strict quarantine in hopes of reducing the spread of COVID-19. The club hosted hundreds of tango dancers Wednesday through Sunday.

“For those of us who make a living from tango, our self-esteem is on the floor,” said Horacio Godoy, a dancer, historian, and club organizer who walked through the Viruta dance hall, which when it was in full swing the atmosphere of the 1940s when tango became an immensely popular entertainment.

“We’re bankrupt emotionally rather than financially,” said Godoy.

Equally damaging was the closure of the borders, which prevented the arrival of tourists, the main source of finance for the local tango industry. Tango tours abroad have also been canceled as Argentina continues to suffer from high levels of coronavirus more than a year after the pandemic began. There are more than 90,000 confirmed deaths in the country from COVID-19.