By José Manuel Rodríguez
Buenos Aires, Apr 30 (efe-epa).- With one hand on the waist, the other on the shoulder and dancers’ faces just centimetres apart, the sensual tango dance is struggling to adapt to the era of social distancing.
Plaza Dorrego in the San Telmo neighbourhood is home to some of Buenos Aires most iconic dance clubs. Café Tortoni and El Viejo Almacén were once the heart of a bustling scene but today are deserted.
Tangueros now dance from their living rooms and share their passion online, but dancers who rely on the trade for income are now struggling to make ends meet.
Fans have incorporated tango into their lockdown routines in varied ways.
Lucía Gonzalez, a regular at the Plaza Dorrego milongas, continues to dance tango on Sundays, as has been a tradition for her, only now she puts on her favourite playlist and practices while doing household chores.
“Everything we can do to raise our spirits, to raise energy, as we did before, we have to do now with more reason,” José Teixidó, a member of the Amores Tangos group, tells Efe.
Despite the coronavirus forcing Amores Tangos to cancel four international tours, the band continues to collaborate with international dancers and stream events online.
The group set themselves a further challenge of composing a song in 10 days and to get fans to collaborate with them on the choruses by submitting their video to them.
Dancer Natasha Lewinger also decided to do something constructive during the lockdown and brought together 10 fellow artists in places as far-flung as the United Arab Emirates, Greece, Serbia, Italy and Argentina, with one goal to help those in need.
From the long days under lockdown the Unidos Tango Festival was born, a 13-day online event in which more than 100 people participated: from tango teachers to lawyers and accountants.
The outcome of the project was a digital library of more than 90 tango classes in different languages ??that include technique, dance in pairs, history and photography.
In order to access the service, users have to make a donation to help artists in precarious situations.
So far over 1,200 people from 75 countries have donated.
“We are all under the same storm, but on different ships. Some may be on a yacht, another in a smaller boat and many have a float, nothing more,” Lewinger says.
The Association of Tango Dance Workers has 2,678 registered users according to a census carried out at the beginning of the lockdown.
“Obviously there are many more,” Lucila Díaz, a member of the organization group, says, adding that the majority of tango workers are in an informal situation and are helpless due to the lack of aid.
Díaz thinks tango should be protected through subsidies by the Ministry of Culture, given the artform is “the face of Argentina in the world”.
Marisa Vázquez, a member of the Tango Hembra collective, is also calling for further government aid for the sector, such as tax exemptions or food stamps for those in need.
Vázquez says the best thing her collective did in quarantine was dividing the money they had to help four single mothers in the group.