Tango Argentino > Cabeceo promotes better dancing

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

  1. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Hello, Siggav, welcome to the forum.

    I admit I was a bit surprised by that cabeceo definition when I came across it; it's been a while since I checked on he actual definition. I guess we get sort of lazy about how we use words. And maybe it's another word that ends up with a meaning other than the one we find in the dictionary? Or maybe it's a somewhat inaccurate translation of a word in another language? Me, I guess I'm more literal minded.
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Well, let's see. "The very advanced dancers can use just the eyes." You don't have to be even a good dancer to do this well, but you have to be good at this one thing.
    Her comments about body language? A bit of extra information. I don't care if someone is slouching or not. It's more about being attentive with her eyes - striclty speaking. If I want to dance with her, and she wants to dance with me, she will return my gaze, or not. That is what you are looking for. (Course, a man may be more likely to TRY to get your attention if you have the body language thing going on, too.)

    Wearing baggy pants really helps, though, if you are a guy. ;)

    Anything else Dchester?
  3. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I guess the thing that surprised me the most, was that she said the follower should establish eye contact with the leader, and then deliberately look away to reject him.

  4. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    Yes, that's an insult! Women who do that are saying: "Don't ever ask me to dance. EVER!" That was really, really bad advice unless you are purposely telling the man never to ask you to dance from now until you're dead. If this isn't your intent, then you simply avoid eye contact.
  5. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    That seems perfectly reasonable, in the context that the cabeceo is supposed to be about discrete communication. Arguably it is better to know that your invitation was understood, but declined, than that you have no idea whether it ever registered at all? In the end what is the difference between that and just asking for a dance, to receive a negative response, apart from the fact that no one else saw or heard?
  6. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    It really is like WInk Murder: Wink Murder, Murder Wink, Wink Death or Wink Wink Murder is a party game or parlour game. It is also variously known as Killer, Murder in the Dark and Lonely Ghost. The practical minimum number of players is four, but the spirit of the game is best captured by groups of at least six players, and can be played by as many as players as you want.
    In each round of play, one player is assigned the role of murderer (or Killer), with the ability to "murder" other players by making eye contact and winking at them. If a player is winked at, they feign sudden death and are removed from the game. Other players are forbidden from winking. The objective of the murderer is to murder as many people as possible.
  7. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    If that were the case, then the cabaceo wouldn't have been used in the first place. The rejection occurs simply by not making eye contact but it doesn't mean "don't EVER ask me." Making eye contact, and giving the man time to cabaceo, and then turning away is a rejection that means "don't EVER ask me."
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I'm laughing as I write this, and you know I'm teasing you, but, I can see why the cabeceo isn't used very much in the UK.

    Telling someone, "No, thank you," or deliberately turning away after deliberately engaging with them, lacks a certain subtleness, I'd say.
    You CAN go there, but you don't have to. All you have to do is not continue looking at the man you don't want to dance with. And, as is always pointed out, there is no walk of shame back to your table for the man.
  9. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    Walk of shame... I've been there... and then back... head down... haha.
  10. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I had to think about that, and i think in practice this might actually work - but (in my personal opinion) they are trying to debug this from the wrong end.

    To avoid more nominclature problems let me first define the terms i am going to use - my spanish seems to be lead to misunderstandings :(:

    How to get a dance the BA way:

    1) People look around to make eye contact with somebody of the other role they want to dance with - i'lll call this "the synchronizing (SYN)"
    There are differing strategies for that ranging from trying to be aware of anybody glancing at me, over sweeping a few preferred partners for the tanda, to staring down one person in particular.
    It is easier to catch glances if a)people activly look for you (because you are know to be a great dancer, they are friends, they are curious about you after having seen you come to their milonga for a few months) b)you are easily noticable (either by looking good (this might be one of the reasons that men take more care with their appearance in BA) or by having a good seat, or something like that)
    2) once eye contact is established this is verified by the man nodding/pointing towards the dancefloor with his head/something (which is more a "I think we have established that we want to dance with each other, am i right or did i misread something?" than a "Would you like to dance with me?")- i'll call this "synchronization acknowledgement (SYN-ACK)"
    3) if eye contact actually was etablished with the intent of both parties to dance with each other, the woman will acknowledge SYN-ACK - i'll call this "the acknowlegement (ACK)

    And in these 3 steps we have established a connection, and can start dancing.

    What i have seen mostly in the US is leaders skipping step 1) - they are not actually establishing SYN, but they jump to SYN-ACK, i.e. they stare a follower down and waggle their head as soon as her gaze slips even remotely in their direction. Now if you are a popular follower looking up you will get a sea of waggling heads, which is in some ways worse than having people just walk up to you - there you at least only have to deal with one of them. So what she is saying that it might be neccessary to show that there is no SYN to make people stop SYN-ACK.
    If the leaders used the whole process "properly" their reaction should be 1) Establish SYN 2) verify by SYN-ACK 3) if there is no ACK look for somebody differnt to establish SYN, as it was obviously an error on their side.
    These leaders do 1) Assume there is SYN 2) do SYN-ACK 3) if there is no ACK it is obviously the followers fault for not synching properly, and we will continue SYN-ACK till she does.
    Which puts the follower in the unenviable position to have to reject somebody using the glance by activly showing that there was no SYN, which is what she is doing in the video.

    In a way this seems to me to be an emergency brake, and it makes me wonder a bit about the communites she is dancing in if this is one of the pieces of advice she thinks is most important to know.

    But on the other hand this is not so rare here in the US - the idea that using the mirada-cabeceo-cabeceo (not sure if the acknowledgement of the woman is also called cabeceo?) sequence is identical to "walking up to the follower and asking her verbally" and "the follower accepting or rejecting the invitation" leads to this behaviour.

    I am still thinking about what Zoopsia said earlier - using good manners and a minimum of sensitivity should be enough to make any way of negotiating who dances with whom work. And if we assume that "walking up to a follower and asking her verbally" is actually equivalent to SYN-ACK, and "accepting or rejecting the verbal invitation" is equivalent to ACK then all the things Zoopsia listed as good manners are the SYN, and it is obvious why rejecting a dance when asked verbally is a pretty strong statement - it basically says "You don't have enough social awareness and manners to function in polite society". Now i would suggest that leaders in many cases actually do not have the social awareness and manners needed to make this work properly, but that is the fault of how we explain the process of asking for a dance - the "good manners" part (or the SYN part for the mirada-cabeceo-cabeceo(?) sequence) is rarely talked about, and as in many cases bad manners and throwing tantrums is rewarded with short term advantages, at the cost of poisoning the environement in the long run by forcing out good-faith actors.

    So the solution is probably less in using mirada-cabeceo-cabeceo(?) vs. using "walking up verbally and asking", but in being aware of the feelings and desires of other people as much as of our own.


    P.S. And i still think that SYN has some advantages over relying on the leaders good manners and sensitivty - it explicitly allows for followers input (though of course sensitivity also implicitly requires the followers input - only a cad would invite a lady who he knows would not like dancing with him (though if this was a harlequin romance the lady would fall in love with the cad within 3 pages of being whirled around on the dancefloor, and spend the next 200 pages angsting about the inappropriateness of the match :) )
  11. Mario7

    Mario7 Member

    What to do when groups of men and women are sitting together at tables that are set in different directions and scattered around not in a single line... I run into this a lot in Mexico and here it is in BA at Sunderland:
    It looks to me like one would have to make sure to sit with those with whom he/she was going to dance..if not at the same table then no further than the adjoining one.
  12. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    Its Sunderland - you don't go there to dance with anybody who you don't know.

    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Tables there are arranged pretty much like the ones at El Arranque. I had no problems getting dances there as an "unknown." (And gosh, when I got there there were only a few couples on the floor, so I really had to put myself out there.) People can, and do turn in their seats. You turn just enough so that you can scan in another direction as you turn your head.
  14. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    UKDancer likes this.
  15. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    I saw how they think it is done. They are wrong. They presented their way to make it easy for their students. This is not the way it is done. Homer and Cristina dont know what they are talking about.
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  16. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    Can you elaborate on what was wrong with their explanation?
  17. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    Cristina tells women to focus on a man with intention. That's fine. Where she shows her lack of information in the 70-year-old BsAs tradition is nodding to a man before HE has initiated any head movement. She has probably never been to a milonga in BsAs, but she should be more informed because she teaches. The culture of tango in BsAs is part of tango, and therefore should be taught.

    Homer approaches Cristina with a verbal invitation to dance. The cabeceo (cabecear means to nod) is a mutual, nonverbal agreement to dance a tanda. There is no need to follow it with a verbal invitation.

    Homer and Cristina have a lot to learn about the tango traditions and social dancing in BsAs. They devised an American version they are passing off as the cabeceo.

    Finally, there is more interest in using head movement for the invitation outside of BsAs, but this video does not show how it is done.
  18. Mario7

    Mario7 Member

    yes, it takes guts to try and teach a foreign culture to others when it is foreign even to the teachers....they (Homer and Cristina) may finally be drawn into actually experiencing the corrida delas milongas in BsAs before going much further with this teaching. That would be very positive for everyone concerned.
  19. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    Cristina Ladas does not know how the cabeceo is used in Buenos Aires, so she should not be giving any instruction.

    If I notice someone looking in my direction, and I do not want to dance (now or ever) with him, I do not look at him for a second. That way, there is no rejection. He thinks I did not see him or whatever. I'm not interested at that moment to dance.

    A member of DF asked me if I would make a video showing the various ways that milongueros initiate an invitation in the BsAs milongas. It's in the planning stages.
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  20. Mario7

    Mario7 Member

    wow, that's not going to be an easy video to make but please do try, and good luck at it, too !~

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