Few days ago, Thursday, there was a big National Strike in Argentina over the high inflation. There was no transportation around the city. Some taxis going around but in general the city was very quiet all day. Even hospitals, regular businesses and schools had closed due to this strike. This kind of National Strike happens about once a year in Argentina. The shocking thing for some of the Tangueros was that even the “Viruta” Milonga finished about an hour early…! We made it only to hear the last two songs of the night when we arrived there after the “Royal Pigall” Milonga at El Beso.
Regardless of the strike, we had a magical night at the “Royal Pigall” milonga. We went there because the legendary singer Maestro Alberto Podesta was singing accompanied by Guitarist, Julian Hermida and singer, Ariel Ardit. What a grand night it was. When we got there around 12:30, the place was already packed. The small venue had an even smaller floor due to the extra tables that were added. Because it was so crowded, it wasn’t the best floor to dance on but there was a very special cozy ambience. Maybe because we knew that there was no easy transportation to and from the milonga, only those who really wanted to be there were there, or knowing that this great Maestro was going to be singing, there was a certain feeling of togetherness and connection in the tightly packed milonga. We joined in the already crowded corner table and ordered a bottle of champagne. I danced a few tandas but because it was such a nice ambience there, it would have been okay to just sit and enjoy the energy in the room.
The performance began around 2am. Alberto Podesta, age 84, very adorable, came towards the microphone and started his performance chatting to the audience. You can feel that the entire room had a very warm and loving energy, with all ears toward him and laughing at his jokes. This maestro is a major part of Tango history known for singing with DiSarli Orchestra. He is one of the major creators of the Tango we love today. You can feel the respect that each and every one in the room had for him. I’m not sure if I ever felt that kind of energy, so strongly in a room. Age had taken away from his voice, but still I can feel my chest feeling tingly as I listened to him. I was touched and moved, especially when he sang “Nada”, my eyes grew warm. He sang few songs with Julian’s accompaniment and then sang together with Ariel Ardit, another amazing younger generation singer. Such a treat!
All I can say is, I am honored that I had this opportunity to hear Alberto Podesta sing live. This is one of the beautiful things about being in Buenos Aires. It is not just about the dance. It’s really about the people, the history, the respect, and people’s lives that create what Tango is today.