(BUENOS AIRES, Argentina) — In a huge ballroom in a Buenos Aires basement, the tables are stacked. On the orchestra stage, the piano lid is closed near unplugged speakers and billboard images of tango celebrities.

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

Like other venues of its kind, the Viruta club has been closed since March 8, 2020, around the time that Argentine authorities decreed a strict quarantine in hopes of reducing the spread of COVID-19. The club used to host hundreds of tango dancers between Wednesday and 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 across the Viruta dance hall, which, when in full swing, recreated the atmosphere of the 1940s era when tango became a wildly popular entertainment.

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