Cabeceo promotes better dancing

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

  1. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    During the cortina? What, before the music for the next tanda has started to play? Such practice was more-or-less condemned here a few days ago as being an abomination, only for those so vulgar as not to care what they danced to. Hmm.
    opendoor likes this.
  2. doornail

    doornail New Member

    I must say that I use the cabeceo wherever I possibly can. It seems to me that there's a sliding scale between your basic blink-and-you-miss-it Buenos Aires cabeceo, via the yes-I-am-really-looking-at-you-nod-nod-nod British version, all the way up to mouthing would-you-like-to-dance and gesturing towards the dance floor in places where nobody's familiar with the cabeceo.

    Milongas then seem to naturally move along this sliding scale in the rough direction of the Buenos Aires end (a curious mixture of the super-subtle and yet completely unmistakeable). I don't think I know anywhere that has moved in the other direction along this sliding scale -- so my guess is that when people get used to the idea, they tend to discover it works for them.
    opendoor likes this.
  3. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    The milongas jantango referes to most likely had a commonly known play list. These milongueros only showed up for specific tandas at a certain time. They never used to dance to other music than they had already done to a hundred times before in the same way.
  4. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    It's difficult describing the milonga atmosphere of Buenos Aires to those who have never been here.

    There are 200 dancers on a Sunday at Lo de Celia. It's like being at the theater with a new scene every ten minutes. People are observing who arrived, who is going out to smoke, who is dancing with whom, and where a particular person is seated with whom you want to dance, etc.

    The tanda begins. Is it tango, vals or milonga? What orchestra? Do I want to dance this tanda? With whom do I want to dance? Is he/she looking my way? Shall I wait or look at another? There is a mental process. It's not just about getting on the floor to be seen.
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  5. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    You are making assumptions, all of which are incorrect.
  6. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    What is the reason the head movement replaced the verbal invitation at Buenos Aires dances in the early 1940s? To avoid public embarrassment when a girl's mother or other female escort refused to allow her to dance with someone. Let's not forget that all the men were standing in the middle of the floor, not seated at tables. All saw the rejection when he returned to the center.

    Later, the men invited with a head movement or movement of the lips (bailas?) in the direction of the intended partner and no one knew who was refused.

    The head movement is subtle. No one can see who the man has invited until they are together on the edge of the floor. It's a mutual agreement. It does not obligate anyone as the verbal invitation does, which usually results in an unpleasant situation.
  7. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member


    So this is just a matter of being alert, and giving some attention to the people in the room during the cortina? Perhaps we can be identifying potential partners (who is here and where are they in the room), rather than actually getting the mirada/cabeceo underway?

    It is during the cortina that I am assessing the prospects for the next tanda. If a group of followers are deep in conversation at this point, I assume that they have come to chat, not to dance. And by and large, I observe that they don't dance much.
  8. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Something similar happened to my husband. He was at a milonga and didn't feel like dancing so he was looking at his phone. A woman he was not interested in dancing with was standing nearby, staring at him. He saw her out of the corner of his eye and refused to look. Finally, she walked over and tapped him on the shoulder and said rather obnoxiously, "Excuse me, but I've been trying to cabaceo you and you won't look up!" He said no. Oy. The cabaceo means nothing if you don't respect the whole process. What is much more valuable than whether you ask with your eyes vs. your mouth is watching body language. If a person won't look at you, don't ask them unless you know for a fact they like dancing with you and are just being obtuse. How hard is that?
  9. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    Something like this occurs when there are different ways of asking for a dance at the same venue. For example, some people who ask directly, others use cabaceo, and others use chit chat before asking. You won't know which the person is using and responsive to unless you ask directly or chit chat because the cabaceo just looks like the person isn't aware of what's going on around him/her. But this is if you don't know the person.

    For people you do know, there won't be any misunderstanding since you'll know how the ask and respond.
  10. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Well, I may as well love dancing with him, but am not looking at him at a particular moment, and not because I've been obtuse. Perhaps I am in the middle of something with my friend or don't care for the music that's playing, or want to cool down and watch my favorite couple on the floor, or a certain orchestra is playing, and I know it is not working for me with him, but perfectly working for me with some other person... in brief, I prefer not to dance with him at this very moment, so I am not looking at him. He may as well get a similar feeling toward me in his own time (even though I know for a fact he adores dancing with me), and I understand and respect that. So if he is not looking at me, it is perfectly fine, I will wait when the moment is right for both of us.
  11. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    I don't know if Erdemsel has danced at a milonga in BsAs. His video is useful for men to a point. What he shows what may occur at festivals, but not what is done in BsAs. This eye contact is something we all do in daily life when crossing a street or merging with traffic on the road.

    Men position themselves on the edge or corner of the floor to protect the woman from on-coming traffic as she enters the floor. They don't make eye contact with the men in the rear. They merge gently among others on the floor.

    When it's a couple entering together, the woman goes first and positions herself just in front of the tables on the edge of the floor with her back to the wall. The man joins her and facing the wall, waiting for space to enter the flow of traffic on the floor to the left. Awareness is what it's about. There is no nodding being done.

    Erdemsel has a good idea which may even result in better floorcraft and use of the cabeceo.
  12. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Some (but probably less then half) of the leaders use the technique that Erdemsel demostrated at milongas in the US that I have frequented.
  13. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    I was told this by a guy who dances frequently in BsAs; he said it was a common practice but not mentioned outside BsAs. I can see the sense in it, making eye-contact with other road users before yo join the traffic so to speak.

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