The last milonga we attended must have been back in February before the lockdown. We had just received news on Facebook before we went to the milonga that a dancer with the coronavirus attended a festival in Italy and many people fell ill after contact with that dancer.
The atmosphere at the milonga was quite tense. Many people stayed away, there were temperature checks at the door and a box of anti-septic wipes on each table. The organizers were doing their best to keep the attendees safe from what they knew about the coronavirus at the time, and, to try and keep tango going in our city. People tried to be calm but there was a lot less hugging and kissing hello for sure.
In fact, we had been afraid since November/December last year hearing the news and rumours coming from Hong Kong and China (Man Yung always keeps abreast of the news from that region) about the mysterious and deadly coronavirus. The Chinese Government can't be trusted to be transparent about what is actually happening. It was just a matter of time before the threat reached our shores.
I felt extremely relieved that after that milonga, all the milonga organizers in Toronto decided to shut down their milongas due to the coronavirus. This was before the government mandated lockdown, before everyone was ordered to social distance and to stop gathering in groups larger than 5 people. Close proximity and close contact in Tango is just too dangerous, it takes just one sick person to attend a milonga and so many others will also fall sick. I really applaud the tango organizers in our City for taking that difficult step of closing down quickly. It shows how much they care for the safety and wellbeing of the tango community and the public.
I don't think Tango will start up in earnest again until a vaccine can be found. Well, maybe some people may try to get milongas started up before a vaccine is available but we won't be going to any Tango events until that time. From what we know, washing hands often, checking temperatures, wearing a mask, dancing outside, head-to-toe disinfection etc. etc. reduces coronavirus transmission rates but they are not foolproof, people can still get sick if they get in contact with someone who has it. Man Yung is a senior citizen with "pre-existing" medical conditions and I am no spring chicken. We aren't going to risk it. We won't even be going to practice in the dance studio we usually rent each week by ourselves. People using that studio will be exerting themselves physically during exercise/dance and if they have coronavirus, they will aerosol it into the air with every breath.
I know it is very tough for all the Tango organizers and teachers right now. We hope they will be able to pull through and that the vaccine is only months away rather than years away. As for us, we have been very lucky. Man Yung is retired and can stay at home and even though I have to go to work (the nature of my work doesn't let me work from home), my office is taking all precautions by making all staff wear facial masks and not allowing any outsiders into our office.
Yes, there is no tango dancing but we are comfortable, we can stay home and watch Netflix and drink more alcohol than we would normally drink. I've gained 4 pounds since the lockdown started and it's all from gin and tonic.
Man Yung listens to tango music every evening on Youtube. I think he is practicing a million steps whenever he closes his eyes. He told a friend on the phone that he would be "fine" if he doesn't dance tango again but I think he is just putting on a brave front.
I have been having several bad dreams in which Man Yung drags me to a milonga while COVID-19 is still raging. People are dancing without any face masks. I have also had several dreams of finding myself in a supermarket and people are shopping without any face masks. I just had a dream last night in which a horde of angry clients (without face masks) burst into our office and we have to call security to remove them. I think this is becoming a recurring nightmare and phobia. Instead of crowds of zombies I'm afraid of crowds of people without face masks.
As far as we know, our friends in Buenos Aires have also been in lockdown. They aren't dancing, they aren't going out. But that's ok, they are healthy and keeping safe and they assure us through email and Facebook that they are prudent and listening to what the government is telling them to do. They are also quite hopeful we will all return to dancing soon. The most important things right now are health and family and they are making sure to maintain their health and to keep their families safe and we totally agree.
Martha's Apartment in Buenos Aires
A Non-exhaustive set of Tango links in Toronto
- La Cachila - weekly milonga
- Paradiso -- weekly milonga
- Practica El Beso
- WE Tango
- Tango Sur - classes, shows
- Rhythm and Motion - classes, milonga, practica, annual Toronto Tango Festival
- Tango Obsession - classes, weekly Practica La Coqueta
- Tango Lirico - classes, practica, weekly milonga
- Tango de Oro - classes, shows
- Tango Soul Productions - classes, weekly milonga, shows, El Congreso annual Tango Festival
- Vivatango - classes
- Tango Argentino - classes
- Club Milonga - classes, special events
- Alternatango - classes, weekly milonga
- University of Toronto Tango Club - classes, practica
- El Abrazo - classes
- Tangoloft - twice monthly milonga