I beginning to really, really wish that we had a stronger cabeceo practice here. It really seems to be a more gender-equal way of choosing partners. I mean, with a cabeceo both men and women have the power to look, select, avoid. Without it, leaders are expected to invite – and this often means approaching the woman in a very obvious way.
I have noticed that some leaders are sensitive to a woman avoiding his invitation: I have seen men approaching me, and by turning to a friend and engaging her in conversation (while avoiding looking at the man at all) he will continue on his way. But men who are … less perceptive … will stand about a foot away from me and wait until I look up. Or, worse yet, they will stand there and then, if I don’t look up, they will get even closer and ask me verbally. No, I did not fail to notice you standing there; I don’t want to dance. I find this especially frustrating when the man is a friend of mine, because these are men who I feel uncomfortable turning down – and often dance with when I am in the mood – but with whom, from time to time, I just don’t feel like dancing.
On the other hand, when I am able to cabeceo a leader it works beautifully. Several leaders regular secure tandas with me from across the floor. Just last night I managed to snag two leaders for the music I wanted with them by pointedly catching their eye from a good distance away – no need for either of us to get up from our seats before we had already agreed to dance. I love that kind of power and freedom. It provides me the opportunity to rest and socialize when I want to do so, and to look for the leaders I enjoy when the right music comes on.
*P.S. Sadly, I did not get to try leading in class yesterday. Too many men, so I put on my heels and followed (and still there were not enough followers!). But my friend is excited to go back, so maybe next week I will insist on leading no matter the imbalance. I want to learn!