Tango Argentino > Cabeceo promotes better dancing

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by jantango, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. jantango

    jantango Active Member

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  2. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Does it : how?
  3. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    "Practicing cabeceo allows dancers to avoid the unpleasant emotions of rejection"

    It may let you avoid SOME of the emotions.. the ones that come primarily from others seeing you get rejected.

    But rejected is rejected no matter how it comes about. For me anyway, being rejected causes the emotions, not the way I get rejected. If someone that I want to dance with isn't interested in dancing with me, then I'm going to feel what I feel even if it is done by cabeceo.

    I imagine the quote might apply more to men because cabeceo allows them to avoid the embarrassment of a face-to-face rejection by a woman? Since I don't ask leaders/men to dance, I am only rejected by virtue of not being asked. Because of that, I find the whole cabeceo rather demeaning because it means that not only am I rejected as a dance partner, but rejected socially as well. It is dehumanizing in a social setting to have someone completely ignore you to the point of not even ever making eye contact or engaging in friendly conversation when standing right next to you.

    Milongas in my area tend to have a cocktail party atmosphere to some extent. There is chit-chatting and socializing going on far beyond what happens in a traditional milonga in BA. Many have far more people milling around than can be seated at tables. Everyone knows one another. When someone refuses to interact with you AT ALL for fear that it will be considered an invitation to dance (or worse, an obligation) it creates more discomfort and hurt feelings than not using cabeceo does. Just about every follower in my area has complained about leaders who won't even say "Hi" (to the followers they don't dance with) when entering the venue and walking right past them.

    Maybe the followers should take some of the responsibility for the leader's discomfort. If they pounce on leaders for a dance or act as though a simple greeting is an automatic invitation, then it's no surprise that leaders avoid them. But there are plenty of instances where people get rudely snubbed by someone just trying to say "hello".

    In some ways, the whole cabeceo thing (in my area) has created more problems than it solves. If the expectation was that leaders do the asking, and if someone doesn't ask, then they aren't interested, then it would allow for less awkward socializing. Of course, that wouldn't solve the problem of men getting turned down face to face, but frankly, leaders don't get turned down very much here.... there are so few of them compared to the number of followers.

    And I won't even go into the issue of how DARK milongas are here and how hard it is for anyone (well, me anyway) to tell whether someone more than 3 feet away is trying to cabeceo you! I can't even tell sometimes if the person standing right in front of me is looking at me or the follower sitting next to me!
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  4. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Agreed, I feel no better being rejected via cabeceo than I do face to face.
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  5. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Saying "no" also can be quite unpleasant and awkward, to the point that a lot of people would rather dance with the unwanted candidate.
  6. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Well you have a good heart then. I can remember in days past where I was rejected by women giving me this big smile, like they were trying to keep from laughing at me.

  7. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Why do you believe they were laughing at you? They were probably smiling to smooth out the awkwardness of the situation or to sugarcoat the rejection...
  8. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Around here, the followers who REALLY don't want to dance with someone usually have no problem saying "No, thank you" to those leaders. Most of the followers just want to dance, and unless someone is REALLY bad (ie: you could be injured level of bad) they accept the dance as the better alternative to sitting all night, not the alternative to an awkward refusal.
  9. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Of course, cabeceo and other elements of etiquette reflect certain attitudes toward dancing, and won't make much sense if the attitudes of the group are so drastically different.
  10. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    You could be right, but I can say that at least for me, smiling doesn't sugar coat anything, any more than the cabeceo does when getting rejected. Going outside of tango, I can't think of a situation where the person delivering bad news, rejection, whatever, would make me feel any better because they were smiling.

    At the end of the day, I think rejection is something that guys just have to learn how to deal with. It's just that we don't always know if the scope of the rejection is for this hour, this milonga, this year, or never will I dance with you.


    One thing I do like about asking someone to dance (rather than the cabeceo), is that the follower might say, "not right now, but will you ask me later on / the next tanda / etc.?" To be honest, even if the follower does or says something that would make me think she'd never want to dance with me, that's not all bad either. At least then I know not to ask her any more. I can accept that I'm not for everyone (at least not yet).

  11. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    practicing and advancing your dancing avoids rejection period:D
  12. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Sigh...I cannot help but feel that if people stopped worrying so much about getting dances all the time, getting on the floor no matter what, a lot of things would go much easier for them, including figuring out who wants to dance with them and who does not at present moment.
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    But then... it would be like in Buenos Aires!

    I have a lot that I could write on this topic, having had experiences on both sides, having people I DO NOT want to dance with based on their behavior on and off the dance floor, on and on.

    Dance less, enjoy it more; which unfortunately might involve NOT wanting to dance with certain people or to certain songs. I think though, that once you have your own preferences in place - whether other people think they are justified or not - it becomes easier to accept that someone elses preferences are just as valid.

    I find that more and more I get satisfaction out of seeing a young woman dance with a young man when I had the option of taking that dance myself. Matchmaker? Facilitator?

    Somewhat on topic, I don't see a convincing argument that the cabeceo promotes better dancing. On the other hand I think being able to "ask for" and have someone agree to dance using this non verbal communication is very useful. Even where it is not the preferred method, I think everyone should be aware of it.
  14. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I agree that it is something that everyone should be aware of. If I were in BA, I would expect to use it, and I probably wouldn't feel annoyed by it. For one thing, I wouldn't be trying to just greet and socialize with aquaintances, so having someone refuse to even look at me when I say hello wouldn't come up. The milongas are also not as dim as they are here, so trying to figure out whether someone is trying to make eye contact with me (or the person next to me) and understanding their expression isn't so difficult.

    Of course, there wouldn't be many locals trying to dance with me anyway, because I'd be an unknown. Mostly other tourists would be asking, and I remember them coming right up to my table where I was seated with my partner and verbally asking me to dance (that's how I know they were tourists!)
  15. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    OK, I'm sort of on a role (Did you know that jazz guitar great Charlie Christian went to hear Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys in Tulsa, etc, I know, nothing to do with AT) and will be going on to my other activities soon, including dancing...

    Jeez, I've had people (both men and women) walk past me literally for years at both the AT and CW venues, and not say hello or look at me. One time a fellow ATer (well, female fellow) went on and on about the social disfunctionalities of the various people. And, she had important sounding labels for their disfunctions. Being ignored was particularly annoying at the AT venue where there were about 1/10th the number of people that are at the CW place. (And there is the charming custom of running into people without saying excuse me, or otherwise acknowledging what you just did, but maybe that's another thread.)

    I know I danced with tourists in BA, because some of them were speaking languages other than Spanish. But then, some of them ONLY spoke Spanish, so...

    Yeah, I understand that when you go to a milonga with someone of the opposite sex, you won't be asked (by locals) because they respect the fact that you are a couple. (And again, if you go anywhere with a guy, and wonder why other guys don't ask you to dance...) My experience there, is that at Lo de Celia a woman from the group I was with came along with me, and we were seated at a couples table (She did not dance AT, but was curious.). She noted later that I didn't get any dances until she left the table to go and talk to the gracious "JanTango."
  16. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Of particular annoyance to me is when I actually say hello to someone and they don't say hello or look at me. Walking past without initiating an interaction is one thing. Refusing to respond is especially rude. The only people who do this are the same couple of leaders who don't ever ask me to dance. If I even try to just give them a friendly greeting, they go into avoidance mode! (One of them has actually NEVER danced with me, so it's not as though he knows he dislikes doing so!) I'm not the only one who has complained about these two leaders. They won't even speak to people they don't want to dance with, not even to respond with basic manners and courtesy.
  17. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    Are you saying you went all the way to Buenos Aires and danced only with tourists? If that was the case, you chose the wrong milongas, and the tourists did not learn the rules. I don't want others to get the impression that is the case for everyone. In fact, I regularly see foreigners dance with the locals. It wasn't as easy in 1996 as it is today.

    Incidently, everyone who commented on this thread has been to BsAs at least once.

    You are the other voice of experience in this thread with lots of trips to BsAs.

    We do not always get everything we want in life. That's the way it is. Accept it. She isn't interested, now or ever. The nod is subtle and no one else knows she looked away to give you her answer -- no. It's a ladies' choice -- a recent post on Tango Chamuyo.

    Scope of the rejection -- try as long as you feel the desire to dance with her. It doesn't cost anything. If you don't get an acceptance after a few attempts, move on.

    There are gestures that get the point across nonverbally that I don't want to dance this tanda (fanning yourself to cool down) so invite me later. This does not require the man to approach the woman's table, a no-no in the milonguero codes.

    If the cabeceo is still used in Buenos Aires as it has been since 1943, there is one reason -- it serves its purpose.
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  18. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I have been somewhat guilty of this - in some venues there is a strong social norm that chatting with somebody is almost as binding an invitation to a dance as actually asking is. No other dancer will interrupt if a follower and a leader appear to be "paired up" already, and some leaders and followers use this ..uhm...strategically..., leading to somewhat pathological behaviour as a reaction. I find this dynamic often quite annoying, because it means that on nights when i feel like not dancing but more like chatting with friends i end up in awkward moments when we are halfway through the first song of the tanda, and her body language says louder and louder "why are we not dancing yet?", and i actually really just wanted to chat a bit, and assumed she did, too, and we were both standing net to the watercooler or other "neutral" territory.

    Re: Cabeceo - i really think the "unpleasant emotion of rejection" is the wrong framework for thinking about what the cabeceo does or does not do.

    Lets assume L wants to dance with F (and in the traditional non-cabeceo version L has to be a leader and F has to be a follower (i know, this is not generally true, but easier for the moment).
    L is the first leader to ask F (note that "first" is really important here), and now F can either accept the invitation, or reject it. If F accepts, everything is ok. If F rejects we get a cascade of things: in most cases F will not get to dance this tanda; L will not get to dance the tanda. Any leader asking F shows bad manners (even if the reason they were not the first one to ask her was that they didn't wait behind her chair for the end of the last tanda but instead went off the dancefloor with their partner, chatted a bit and then looked for the next partner). If F accepts any other leader she also shows bad manners and/or makes a very strong statement about L. Any follower who accepts L's invitation makes it explicit that they are ok with being somebodies second choice for a dance.
    Overall the non-cabeceo condenses everything down to a single, binary decision - the follower gets to decide if they want to dance with the leader who asks first. And this decision/rejection has a big impact - not because it is an unpleasant emotion, but because it has real consequences.

    If we think about the cabeceo as working the same way - i.e. L stares F down, and this is equivalent to L asking F, and F's accepting/rejecting the cabeceo is the same thing as accepting/rejecting a verbal invitation we really have not gained anything - especially as of course everybody notices who is cabeceoing whom, and just because F does not have to walk accross the dancefloor the emotional effect is the same.

    But the cabeceo (where it works) is something different - it is a negotiation:

    Lets assume L wants to dance with F (and the cabeceo is symmetrical, so we don't really need to assume roles here) - well, in the cabeceo world there is actually not much "L wants to dance with F" - there is "L thinks they would enjoy dancing this tanda with D,E, F,G,H , but especially with E,F,G and most with F" and
    "F thinks they would enjoy dancing this tanda with K,L,M,N,O, but especially with L,M,N and most with M"
    so L starts to look around and sees where D,E,F,G,H are looking - on the first glance it looks like D,F,H are looking their general direction and they also notize that A (who they have never danced with) is looking their direction. F is doing the same thing, and sees that L, M, O are looking vaguely in F's direction. F activly tries to lock eyes with M, but notices that M is is nodding to Q, and resumes looking around. Meanwhile L has noticed that they can't quite catch F's eye right now, but A and D are more open choices, so he catches A's (because adventures are a good thing), and walks over. F's choices by now have narrowed to O, and they catch each others eye, and now by the 3rd bar of the tanda the dancefloor has pretty much sorted itself out. And everybody knows that the whole things could have gone very differently if somebody had missed a look, or if it had been a different song, or something. Cabeceoing is basically everybody at once negotiating what solution of pairing up is close to pareto optimal for that specific tanda.
    L does not experience the "emotional pain of rejection" not because nobody noticed that they got rejected, or because "rejection by shaking a head" is more fun, or something like that, but because because the whole framwork is different -L's "success" at finding a partner for this tanda does not hinge on a single rejection/not rejection decision from F, . (note that this example is constructed in such a way that F would actually have danced with L is the F,A couple had not worked out).

    I am a big fan of cabeceoing, expecially because when i dance at a place where the leaders ask i end up spending more time wondering and checking who other leader are asking (and estimating if they or i will reach somebody we both want to dance with first), while when i am at a place where the cabeceo works i am looking who the followers want to dance with.

  19. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    (double post - sorry)
  20. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    None of what you desribe happens in reality in BsAs. It is all split second timing. No one knows if she was his first or second choice. If his first choice never looked his way, then I'm glad he turned to look at me.
    You are making this sound so complicated. If I don't want to dance a certain tanda because it's milonga, or an orchestra I don't know, I watch the dancing. No one can invite me when I don't want to dance.

    Have you used the cabeceo in BsAs?

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