I have been thinking a lot about the cabeceo lately. There are, of course, a number of other good blog posts out there about the cabeceo. Here are just a few:
There are two points that always jump out at me when I think about the cabeceo:
First, using a cabeceo is not some mysterious, foreign tradition. Just as the “Everyday Cabeceo” article suggests, a cabeceo is just an extension of fairly natural gestural communication. It is the same as catching someone’s eye in any other social setting. It isn’t something to shy away from or reject as specific to Argentine culture or “traditional” tango settings.
Second, the cabeceo is NOT just about avoiding rejection and protecting a man’s ego. For me, the most AWESOME thing about the cabeceo is that it empowers the followers. It gives us so much more freedom to select our partners. This is especially true for a follower like me who lives in a city with more leaders than men – without the cabeceo, followers often have to deal with eager leaders rushing up to them and pushing them for a dance.
Of course, I do not strictly cabecear. I have been known to accept all manner of invitations onto the dance floor. But after all of this thinking during the past few days, I want to change that. I am tired of feeling obligated to dance, of feeling guilty and over-apologetic when turning someone down, of letting a leader’s eagerness rather than my own readiness or interest dictate when I will dance with someone. I am willing to deal with a lost dance once in a while due to failed eye contact. Now that I am ready and armed with ideas for encouraging leaders to cabecearme, I want to also encourage the milonga organizers to create spaces that also encourage the cabeceo with lighting, table arrangement, etc.