Dancing cheek to cheek? Argentine tango faces curbs as coronavirus
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[March 19, 2020]
By Cassandra Garrison
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - If it takes two to
tango, then the national dance of Argentina may come up one short in the
age of coronavirus.
Tango classes, shows and milongas - traditional tango gatherings - have
been suspended in capital Buenos Aires for at least 15 days as the dance
community follows the government's lead in banning public events.
That's hard to take for many in the tango capital of the world and a
country where tactile greetings, sharing gourds of 'mate' herbal tea,
and gathering around the 'asado' barbecue grill are key parts of the
"The hugs, the kissing, the mate and the tango - all of our traditional
culture is compromised," tango dancer and instructor Alejandro Ferreyra,
35, told Reuters.
"We have to change our way of thinking for a while... There are a lot of
older people dancing tango in the milongas and taking lessons, and they
are the risk population."
South America, mostly in the southern hemisphere and at the tail end of
its summer, is behind the curve of the northern hemisphere in the number
of confirmed coronavirus cases.
But authorities are not taking any chances. Argentina, which has had 65
coronavirus cases and two deaths so far, has shut its borders, closed
schools, and banned large events to stem the spread of the virus that
has infected over 169,000 globally, put countries in lockdown, and
The tango suspension threatens the most famous symbol of Argentina's
romantic culture. Danced in street corners, plazas and theaters, tango
usually attracts droves of visitors to Buenos Aires looking to catch a
glimpse, or try it for themselves.
People of all ages dance to the passionate tango music at the city's
milongas, holding each other closely, often cheek to cheek.
In a new era of social distancing, President Alberto Fernandez has
cautioned Argentines against getting too close, however.
"We are a warm society, which hugs and kisses," the President wrote on
Twitter, adding that people needed to show their affection in a
"non-physical" way - "at least for a time".
[to top of second column]
Makrina Anastasiadou and her tango partner "El Morocho" dance for
the public at an almost empty restaurant after tango shows, classes
and milongas, traditional tango gatherings, have been suspended for
at least 15 days to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), in
Buenos Aires, Argentina March 16, 2020. Picture taken March 16,
2020. REUTERS/Matias Baglietto
Tango teacher Ferreyra is one of thousands of industry professionals
who have seen their livelihood hit. He and his dance partner were
forced to cancel lessons in Buenos Aires, as well as postponing a
tour of tango events through the Middle East, Europe and Asia.
For Mona Moussa, 42, a tango aficionado from the United States who
temporarily moved to Buenos Aires to dance, the very essence of
tango is now what makes it off limits.
"I fell in love with the concept of the 'abrazo' - the embrace - and
dancing as one," said Moussa.
Johanna Dalez, a Buenos Aires-based travel planner who coordinates
'tango vacations' for tourists, said the effect of a drop in travel
and quarantines for those who arrive from places like the United
States or Europe were rippling though the industry.
However, people are still finding ways to dance - even with classes
Dalez said that "underground" milongas or private events at peoples'
homes would likely continue to some extent.
After all, she said, the dance of passion is not easy to quit.
"It's like a drug. I always tell people who start dancing that once
they start, they become an addict," she said.
(Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Adam Jourdan and
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