Tango Argentino > Cabeceo promotes better dancing

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

  1. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I agree. Of course, people around here do tend to line up a partner during the cortina, but with quite a few of us, it's accepted that the agreement is conditional to both people being ok with the music.

    However, it is harder to get ot of the tanda if it's the combination of partner & music that bugs rather than just not wanting to dance to that music at all.

    I find that over time, it gets a little easier to anticipate what the next tanda might be, or at least what is it unlikely to be. It's unlikely to be the same as the tanda that just ended. This is especially true when the tanda was similar to the one prior to that.

    If the DJ favors a certain thing, you might notice it's been awhile since some other certain thing was played, increasing the chances that it will be that.

    Around here we also sometimes work a "dance card" system (without actual cards) where people agree to save the next _____ for each other, especially when very little of that gets played.

    The bottom line is that not every tanda is going to be ideal. I've learned to accept it as just one tanda of one evening and there will be many more.

    I also spend more time at "practilongas" now where everything is more relaxed.
    Gssh likes this.
  2. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    If I dance with whom I want when I want, I dance better. That is also true for my partner. Cabeceo allows us to do exactly that. That is one way it facilitates better dancing.
  3. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    The theory seemed to be that wanting to avoid rejection promotes better dancing. If you want to be cabeceo'd, you'd work on improving.

    But the real motivation is wanting to avoid rejection and get more/better dances. The method of obtaining dances doesn't seem to be the primary factor that creates the motivation. The desire is what creates the motivation. Working as an individual on one's on dancing towards fulllfilling that desire promotes better dancing for that individual.
  4. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    That seems reasonable. But one way that using cabeceo can quickly become counter-productive is when the majority of dancers are just walking straight over to their intended/preferred next partner and pressing their claims very directly. Unless a refusal follows, no one who prefers to cabeceo is going to get a look in (bad pun, sorry).
  5. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I agree that I'll dance better if I'm dancing with who I want when I want.

    But cabeceo doesn't necessarily provide that. It might help me NOT dance but it doesn't guarantee at all that I WILL dance. No system does. You don't get to always dance with who you want when you want unless you are the most sought after partner in the room for every tanda.

    I also think that you can choose to not dance simply by declining, so since cabeceo doesn't necessarily mean you WILL get to dance, and you can achieve not dancing in other ways.. well... ? :cool:

    I think it would make a bigger difference if people just practiced basic manners. Don't babysit people you want to dance with. If someone declines, let it go and don't try to persuade them. Many guys prefer to do the asking and don't want followers to ask them, even if they like that follower. As a follower try to be sensitive to that. If you are chatting with someone and they haven't expressed an interest in dancing or getting into deep conversation, find a way to excuse yourself to free both of you up to others. If someone is studiously ignoring you even when you are standing right in front of them, that's probably a "No", but don't require that the eye contact and acceptance will be from the other side of the room. Get into someone's proximity to make eye contact in the same way that shouting from afar is also rude. I think if you aren't close enough to speak to them, you probably aren't close enough to cabeceo middle aged presbyopic adults in a dark milonga without confusion.

    It's really not that complicated. Manners and thoughtfulness can solve many things. A specific system just for this dance shouldn't be necessary. It's built on some basic principles of etiquette, but it's taken to an extreme that doesn't always facilitate its own goal.
    Gssh likes this.
  6. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure how your reply relates to what I said. I was responding to the initial post that cabeceo itself promotes better dancing (by saying that I don't think it is the reason that people work to improve their dancing.)
  7. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    It only does indirectly, in that arguably cabeceo often doesn't actually usefully facilitate dancing at all, so it fails to be a factor in improving dancing (other than as a negative factor).
  8. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think cabeceo can promote better dancing:

    1) The cabeceo is symmetrical - leaders and followers have the same amount of power and choice.
    When asking the way to get a dance is not to be the preferred choice of the follower, but to not be rejected. This leads to optimal strategies for leaders where they are encouraged to ask followers compared to whom their dance skill is just barely adequate to not be rejected - or (if they have a bit more social awareness) where they spend a lot of time questioning who they are "allowed" to ask and not ask advanced dancers who whould be perfectly happy to dance with them. It also leads to a self selection in milongas where leader who are (maybe unwarrentedly) confident in their superior tango skills actually really dance with the "better" partners, and other people start to emulate the style of the most self-confident dancers, not the style of the dancers who the followers actually enjoy dancing with most (a self perpetuating version of dchesters sig :) )because they mis-identify how and why they get the dances they get.
    When cabeceoing the way to get a dance is to be part of the group of people who "would make a nice partner for this tanda" (this is not all skill - there are still huge social factors in there), i.e. the leader is the preferred choice of the follower, and the follower is the preferred choice of the leader. Additionally this group of potential partners is both larger and more amorphous, because it is not based on single, definite decision (leaders choosing one follower, that one follower rejecting/accepting that one leader), but on sweeping everybody who could be a nice partner for this dance, and them sweeping too, and then we just see where eyes meet.

    2) The cabeceo happens after the music has started
    As asking also encourages leaders to be the first one to ask a follower (because the follower _will_ dance with the first leader who asks, unless the leader does not meet a very low bar of adequacy, and even then rejecting a dance will mean in most cases that the follower will have to sit out the complete tanda), asking tends to happen during the cortina- sometimes even before people get off the dancefloor properly. Cabeceoing happend durign the first song of a tanda, encouraging people to be aware of the music, their own preferences and their partners preferences. As bordertangoman pointed out this also sometimes happens in the "asking" environment, when people "reserve" valses, or milongas, or pugliese tandas. But then we are really doing something different than just "leaders asking followers" - this is implicitly using a dancecard (which is a very functional approach, there is a reason why the english like organizing their social dance like that). A pretty limited dancecard, though - for example one of my favourite partners for all-out-crazy-milonga is about my least favourite partner for sweet and mellow milonga on a crowded dancefloor. And without knowing the DJ's playlist i might end up with a dozen reserved tandas in a row, and then nothing for the rest of the evening. Or the pugliese tanda will come on when i am in the bathromm. When dancecards were used people did not sign up with each other for "the 7th dance" of "this waltz" - they signed up for "the 7th dance of the night, the waltz "absinthe frappe"".

    3) It puts the dance first (subjective, so it might just be me)
    I think structurally asking one person makes "who do i want to dance with next" the central decision. Cabeceoing makes "how do i want to dance this tanda" the central decision, with the looking for people who i feel will match this idea, and who have the idea that i will match their idea of that tanda as a consequence of that.

    YMMV and all that

  9. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    Well, that is certainly true - but the same is true for leaders who don't let their intended partners even get off the dancefloor, or who make a point of sitting down next to them when they are changing shoes, or eating something, or decline a dance "to rest a bit" :(. But just because nice manners are sometimes less efficient than boorishness does not make it the worse approach.

  10. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    No one expects any guarantee. The etiquette and organization provide the right setup for that to happen, therefore increases the possibility of it happening (and yes, on top, you still have to look neat, civilized, and learn to dance :)).
  11. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think there should be more light at a lot of milongas - i don't understand why some people seem to think that dance venues should be dimly lit - ballrooms are proverbially brightly lit, folkloric dances are not danced in the dark, milongas in BA aren't dimly lit, either.

    I don't really think that the "cabeceo" is a specific system for just AT - it is how we navigate all social situations. If you get to a party and everybody is standing around holding their drinks and chatting you look around, see who noticed you, see who you want to be noticed by, and then you walk up to somebody who noticed you and who you think would be interesting to chat with. We maybe should not call it cabeceo and give it this mystique - in some ways well mannered asking does exactly the same thing - you don't ask people who are clearly waiting for somebody else to ask them (and how do you know that? because they are looking for them all over the room), you ask people who are happy to dance with you (and how do you know that? because when they notice that you are startign to move towards them they keep looking at you and smile). How do you find people to ask? You look around. Maybe if we talked about cabeceo as what should be happening before you ask somebody anyway it would look less alien- especially as really after cabeceoing the men still ask the women; they walk over to her place, and offer their hand (which is about as much asking as a lot of people do in "asking directly" venues), and sometimes after stray cabeceos (when leaders have positive illusions :) ) the followers recognizing the awkwardness of the situation smile and accept that direct invitiaiton (and stray cabeceos happen even in BA).

  12. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Maybe you haven't been in an environment where women also ask the men to dance, but I certainly have.

    To me, this sounds as much like being in a certain clique, (or sort of a cast system), and not so much about skill.

    This is not always true everywhere, just like some people will walk over, to ask for the dance after the music has started.

    "How do I want to dance this tanda", is what I always start with, which then reduces to some number of followers who might like to dance with me in the way I'm likely to dance to the tanda. How I ask them to dance with me doesn't change any of that.
    Gssh likes this.
  13. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    Good point - let me make it more general then: The cabeceo is symmetrical, the asker does not have more power/selection than the askee - actually there is no difference between asker and askee - both are active askers, and a dance gets negotiated when both ask each other at the same time. With women asking we get exactly the same problems, just with reversed roles (actually i think part of the resistance on the side of men who don't like women asking is not at all about tradition and good manners, but about not wanting to be in the often uncomfortable position of being the askee )

    Fair point, but there is always going to be a set of people who you enjoy dancing with more, and i think the more fluid nature of the dance negotiation when using the cabeceo makes it, well, less risky, to dance with somebody outside ones comfort zone. It doesn't really apply to me, but talking with friends who follow it seems that once you have accepted to dance with somebody once many people will be very ungracious about not being accepted every time after.

    Agreed - though i have to admit that i think that asking encourages this, because the key is not to be part of the group that askee would like to dance with, but being the first to ask, while with the cabeceo i can start looking around durign the cortina, it won't make a difference, unless a follower also wants to dance with specifically me irregardless of what the tanda might be, and then it is a great match.

    If you are waiting till the music starts for asking then no, it doesn't (there is still the questions of how many you can ask - when cabeceoing i usually check on 3 or 4 to see if any of them are checking on me (though this is not really a good argument, as Zoopsia59 pointed out if i have a minium level of sensitivity i am also going to check who looks most like they want to be asked by me, so there is the same give and take there, too)

    I think well mannered, good "walking over and asking" works perfectly well. I also think that well mannered "walking over and asking" is pretty much preceded by something like a cabeceo anyway, just like a cabeceo is really followed up by "walking over and asking".

    As the cabeceo-like part is the more difficult/important part i think it is good to emphasize it , and try to explicitly talk about it, in the end it is just an idea of how to facilitate pleasant social interaction.

    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  14. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    To be honest, I don't have any problem with utilizing the cabeceo, but on the other hand, I don't have any problem just asking someone to dance either. I'll do what I observe others doing.

    I will say that at the milongas I went to in BsAs, the cabeceo works much better than at most places here in the US. The reason may surprise you though. IMO, a large part of it's success was because everyone got seated at a table. It gives you a place to keep your glasses handy, to put them on for the cabeceo. Once you got the nod back, you put the glasses on the table and went to find your partner.

    Basically, I'm a big believer in, "When in Rome, so as the Romans do". I'm just not that interested in changing what other (local) communities have naturally decided what works best for them.
  15. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    So cabaceo promotes better dancing because people will actually dance with whom they want to dance, instead of feeling obligated to dance because someone asked. Makes sense.
  16. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    When a large enough portion of those who attend milongas do so regularly and are very skilled dancers, the cabaceo will evolve just like it did in BA. But, as it is now, academic tango runs the house and the dance floor turns into a practice floor.
  17. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I am not sure if cabeceo is actually the answer, but the cabeceo in BA seems to work better for BA than asking in almost anywhere else works for almost anywhere else. And i am not saying this because i think that being a carbon copy of BA what all communites should aspire (pretty much the opposite actually), but I can't think of a community where i would say "here asking works as well as cabeceo works in BA" - so we have a methodology that seems to work well at least in one place, and another methodology that seems to not work well anywhere.

    In salsa just asking works fine (though there are very strict invisible lines) - and i don't have expereinces with ballroom or wcs, but from what i hear on the forums here they seem to be doing fine, too. So i think another interesting question is why we (tango people) have so much trouble with negotiating who dances with whom. And by the number of recurring threads related to this there clearly is some trouble somehow

  18. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    Probably because in tango, the chances for things to go wrong increases as physical proximity decreases. In WCS or salsa, the proximity remains far and if something does go wrong, it's easy to work out. In tango, if something goes wrong, there isn't a buffer that an remedy it... but, you have 3 or 4 songs in the tanda to figure it out. If you can.
  19. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    ...at the moment they want. That is very important. Alas, with people who "just ask" it happens very often that I would have gladly danced with that person if he had just waited for the right moment, instead of coming and asking at the wrong one, making me decline, making us both feel less than happy about it... and now who knows when we are going to dance... if ever.
  20. Kelena

    Kelena New Member

    There is a wonderful well written book by Sonia Abadi "El Bazar de los Abrazos", I wish it was translated to English (I read it in Swedish) that describes all those unspoken and unwritten rules at Buenos Aires milongas. I think it's a 'must' for everyone who wants to understand what's going on at milongas . Sure you do understand that Jantango!

Share This Page