Cabeceo (Really!)

Leaders, I don’t know how to say this more clearly: Use the cabeceo.

Really, it’s better for everyone involved. I don’t like being shanghaied at milongas. If I am sitting, enjoying the music, maybe chatting, maybe looking for a dance partner, I don’t want you to pop up right in front of me with your hand extended. If I want to dance with you, I will make eye contact. When there is enough light, I can find you from all the way across the room.

Here’s the thing: If a leader pops up unexpectedly and asks me for a dance, I will almost always say no. It gives me no time to think, to consider the music, to size up the leader in question, to think about my mood and preferences … so it’s a no. Your chances are generally better if you hang back. This also avoids you being turned down point blank when there are other circumstances involved. (Recent examples: The first tanda of the night, which I always dance with my favorite leader; a knot in my calf muscle that I was still trying to work out; dripping sweat because of my partner from the previous tanda; and a serious craving for the treats that were about to run out. And I know that you guys rarely believe me when I try to explain these circumstances, but sometimes the excuses really are true.)

This isn’t to say that I never accept verbal invitations. Sometimes I like to take chances, especially with visitors. I often excuse beginners who may not know better. If I have previously expressed interest in dancing with someone, I’ll likely be fine with a verbal invitation (although a cabeceo would probably work just as well in that case). And I do accept them from leaders I am chatting with — but it isn’t a guaranteed yes. I’m just as likely to excuse myself and accept a cabeceo from someone I’ve had my eye on.

So please, use the cabeceo. It’s for your own good.

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2 thoughts on “Cabeceo (Really!)

    • The men don’t use the cabeceo because the hows and whys have never been explained. You’d be surprised how many Argentine tango professionals in BsAs have no clue about it themselves. Those who teach and perform don’t go to the milongas to dance.

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