Uruguay starts dancing again as pandemic subsides


MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) – After long months of illness, Uruguay is dancing again.

Last week, the government allowed ballrooms and event halls to open as the country’s COVID-19 death rate – once among the world’s highest per capita – fell sharply.

Seventy percent of Uruguayans have received both doses of the virus vaccine and once overcrowded hospitals now have empty beds.

The government decided to leave ballrooms open five hours a day, but with limited capacity and mandatory 20-minute breaks every hour to ventilate enclosed spaces.

“It’s a very strange thing,” said Paola Dalto, a DJ for the “Cherry Show”, a production aimed at the LGBT community who had to adapt their dance and music to the rules of “on-and-off”.

Several ballrooms, and even people on the streets, flocked to enjoy it on Tuesday, which is usually ‘nostalgia night’, when clubs play music from decades past.

The selective blockades have been devastating in a small country of some 3.5 million people where tango and other dances are a powerful tradition. Sixty 60 closed rooms, according to Javier Abal, president of the Festival Association, which brings together 100 ballrooms and event halls heavily dependent on weddings and traditional celebrations of 15 years of girls.

Rosario Echavarría said the pandemic closure of her tango dance hall for the elderly had “destroyed life… I stumbled economically and emotionally”.

So she rented a bus and threw an outdoor party in the countryside.

“For those who love to dance, you don’t take that off,” she said. “It’s their life.

Also back, dances in outdoor plazas. Over the past weekend, Lucía Sotelo led a team of candombe dancers on a street in the Brazo Oriental district of Montevideo as 40 drummers pounded the beat. Such outdoor gatherings were allowed last month

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