Cabeceo promotes better dancing

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

  1. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    That's like accepting two sets of rules for the same game, depending where it is played. Tango originated in Buenos Aires and includes codes that have been respected and followed for 70 years.

    If I traveled to another city where I went to dance, I would wait to be invited by cabeceo. The rules of tango are the rules I follow.

    How are visiting dancers supposed to know the local codes if they are different from those in the tradition of tango? This would require an announcement by the organizer or posting the rules for all to read in several languages.
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  2. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    When in Rome ...

    Tango has been a dance with International reach for considerably longer than it ever was the sole preserve of portenos, and the inhabitants of Montevideo & other places would dispute the monopoly anyway. I've nothing against cabeceo; nothing at all, and I personally wish that it was more widely practised, but if you come visiting to my part of the UK and you rely on it, you probably won't dance with anyone.
    tangomonkey likes this.
  3. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    Rules of a game are not the same as local customs. Rules are written down in a book and all sides agree to adhere to them. There is a referee or umpire going around making sure everyone follows the rules and there is a penalty for infraction. Local customs are only general agreements, which can be, and are, broken on occasion.

    The fact is that different venues have varying local customs, I'm sure, even in various clubs of Buenos Aires. Even in the most strict clubs there, some people get to dance while not adhering to the customs.

    One learns the customs by asking people, or merely by looking around to learn.

    Since you have rules that you prefer, you're free to use them, but you might miss out on some good dances that way.
  4. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I guess that's often the case (at least here in the US) where there can be different rules for the "same game". A simple example: High School football has different rules from College Football which also has different rules from professional football (the NFL). Canadian Football has different rules as well, even though they all are the "same game".

    At a lot of milongas here, people are using the cabeceo, along with people walking up and asking. I don't make the rules, nor do I worry about changing them. I just try to observe what people are doing, (if it's a place I'm unfamiliar with), and then try to fit in.
  5. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Interestingly, I find there are no two sets of rules, there is only one, everywhere. All good dancers are aware of the codigos and practice them. 90% of the dances I get outside Buenos Aires are still arranged by cabeceo. In our milongas, we get visitors from all over the world. They have no problem using cabeceo.
    Those who don't, I find, also do not really know how to dance, at least not yet. By not knowing how to dance I mean that they don't know the music, cannot recognize the orchestra, cannot go with the music, some don't even know when the song is going to end. They don't have a nice embrace, have trouble navigating the floor, etc etc, so they are not a big joy to dance with anyhow. If I say yes to dances like that (the remaining 10%) it mostly falls into category "beginners and networking".
    jantango likes this.
  6. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I'm curious, what part of the country are you in? Around here (in the Northeast), the most common situation is various people doing a mix of the cabeceo along with people walking up and asking someone to dance (including women asking men to dance).

    Basically, when the organizer asks you to do dance, you get a pretty good indication that it's an acceptable behavior there.

    My suspicion is you're good enough that you need a way to cut down on the dance requests, and the cabeceo fills the bill for you.
  7. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    I live in San Francisco Bay Area.
  8. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    It doesn't sound like from your description that you can be 100% positive that he would have been inviting you for a tanda anyway. It would also have been possible, if he HAD already seen your gaze and wanted to dance with you, for him to say to the other woman "I'm sorry, but I've already been invited by someone else for this tanda". Then it wouldn't have been an issue for him to refuse one person and then dance with another.

    Is there a reason you waited for the other people to move rather than moving yourself to have a line-of-sight with him?
  9. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Tango is not a sport with an international committee overseeing rules of the game. It is a social situation driven by the social codes of the culture. There are hundreds of social codes that vary from culture to culture and only the tourists who don't want to be sensitive to other cultures feel they shouldn't have to learn anything about them.

    Anyone who travels should be prepared to know something about the social customs of their destination. Aren't Americans constantly criticized for not dealing well with "furineers" habits in the "furineers" own country? Aren't we all embarrassed by people of our own nationality behaving obnoxiously or insensitively when we see them in other countries?

    Tango doesn't need to be any different. A small amount of time spent observing will clue all but the most oblivious person in to how people are arranging their dances (and let's face it, those oblivious people aren't going to be impressed by rules anyway) When they can't figure it out easily, if one speaks the local language, they can simply ask the organizer or another friendly dancer.

    Absolutely people should use cabeceo in BA. But if a small local community in the middle of the US that gets very little tourism wants to allow verbal asking, it's their choice. That doesn't mean that followers HAVE to go asking for dances if it makes them uncomfortable. (I never do no matter where I am)
    tangomonkey likes this.
  10. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Should have read ahead... AndaB posted almost exactly what I said before I got there.
  11. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    You sorta answered your own question. People mistakenly use the term cabeceo for the entire process, including the mirada. With that in mind, some people would say the woman "initiates" when she first looks at a man.

    If the code s that you aren't supposed (as a woman) to even look at a man unless he is already looking at you, I'd say that could be problematic, since you can't know if he is looking at you without looking at him.
  12. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I would need one of those signs that say "I have impaired vision. Please ask me to dance"

    There is NO WAY ... none... zip... nada... that I can tell if someone is looking at me from the other side of the room.

    Even when the room is well lit. (and no milonga I've ever been to in the US is)

    Even in the smaller spaces where I've been to practicas.

    If someone wants to catch my eye, they are going to have to get a lot closer to me or I'm going to need a service dog (or friend) to help me out.
  13. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    Well i got my first cabeceo from a man entering the line of dance. worked nicely, just like Murat Erdemsel described....
  14. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    I feel like this subject has been beaten to death in a bunch of other threads. The cabeceo works fine when the milonga is set up for it and everyone is using it. It's not nearly as effective when only some people are using it and when the dance floor isn't set up for it, but it can still work for experienced dancers.

    Everyone who dances AT should know how it works, at least. But just saying everyone should use it isn't going to make it happen. The cultural aspect is too different. The fact that there are no standards for AT other than social ones makes it so you can't enforce the cabeceo on any milonga organizer.
    tangomonkey and Zoopsia59 like this.
  15. LoveTango

    LoveTango Member

    No, not 100%, probably 90%. There were not many people left in the room, and only a few sitting, and among the sitting women, most were his acquantance he had conversed and danced with already. He had his chance inviting them before my view was cleared. He also had his chance changing shoes, but he didn't until he refused the lady. If you were in that room, you may be able to judge who is likely or unlikely to invite you to dance. My judgement could be totally off, but this is not quite relevant because I did not say the lady ruined my dance. I meant I lost the opportunity to even Caboceo for the dance.

    As for why I did not move to clear the view is for the same reason. With so few people in the room, my move would have made a similar effect as a verbal invitation.
  16. jfm

    jfm Active Member

    My favorite ever misunderstanding of how cabaceo works, I heard from a friend of a friend about a guy who dances in Eton.
    Apparently he had been desperately avoiding eye contact with a dreadful dancer all evening when she walked up to him in front of all his friends and said "Will you dance with me right now? I've been trying to cabaceo you all night but it's not working because you haven't been making eye contact with me"
    Apparently a year or so ago when he first heard about it he thought that if you made eye contact with any woman even accidentally it was obligatory to dance with her. I imagine it was that lady who told him that.
  17. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    What do you say, Zoopsia? You went to BsAs.

    This discussion is revealing -- it shows how even those who have been to the milongas in BsAs are not clear about the cabeceo.

    Dancers are looking around the room all the time and during the cortina. Women are looking to see who is looking at them for the tanda. When eyes meet, it is done in a split second.

    If cabeceo use was understood and used, we wouldn't be having this discussion (which will help others who find and read this thread).

    Tonight I saw a milonguero viejo with many years of cabeceo experience walk to the corner to meet a woman he invited only to discover she accepted another man's invitation. He was left without a partner, so he quickly invited another while standing in the corner of a crowded floor.

    My first invitation tonight was from a man I did not know. He came to my table, and I said, no thank you. He kept walking the room until he found a woman who said yes. I few minutes later I saw him on the floor, but he couldn't dance. Her face said it all.
  18. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I wasn't stating an opinion or relating my own experience in BA... I was just trying to answer your question about how some people might say that the woman can "initiate the cabeceo". When they say that, they are most likely not talking about the nod.. they are talking about eye contact.

    Technically, eye contact isn't "initiated". It either happens or doesn't. One person might be looking at the other person first, but since that's the only way to tell who is looking at you, I wouldn't call that "initiating". Other people may speak differently.

    Exactly. And some people might call that "initiating". Then they mistakenly use the term "cabeceo" to mean this entire process.
  19. Riplash

    Riplash Member

    How about Cabaceo outside of Argentine Tango? I am just taking up TA, but I just realized that many places where I dance now with ballroom, latin, or swing. I sometimes find myself getting dances by doing the same stuff as cabaceo is described as.. I look at some some ladies and right away I know if I should should dance with them or not. Of course this isn't exclusively the only way... I ask ladies to dance, and they also ask me to dance. But a good percentage of the time, I find myself asking people to dance in a Cabaceo type way.


    -Rip
  20. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    Preferences as Gospel and the Church of Tango fundamentalists...Do what is common practice where you dance. I live in a city where tango thrives. We are known for being very informal and laid back here, and how we approach OUR tango is no different. We cabaceo, we walk up to people and ask them to dance. We love the music and dance. We enjoy ourselves. We don't get hung up on what the social practices were, or are, in a culture 25 hours away by air travel. We respect the music and the dance; the social customs - well we have our own.
    bordertangoman likes this.

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