Archive for August, 2009

Some experiences with the Cabeceo

August 23, 2009

Following the advice from a previous post, I’ve decided to try the cabeceo and here are some of my experiences over a period of several months …

  1. I invite a friend and I perceive her reaction as an acceptance of my invite to dance. I maintain eye contact as I walk over to her and when I reach her, we start a conversation, she then invites me to sit next to her. After a while, a man comes over and verbally asks her to dance. She accepts and dances with him.
  2. I invite a friend from a distance and she accepts with a smile and a nod. We walk towards each other and meet on the edge of the dance floor. We start a brief conversation and then she asks me if I’d like to dance.
  3. I am sitting down and I invite a lady to dance. She smiles, nods and gets up. But before I get up, she walks over to a friend and they get on the dance floor together.

All of the above experiences happen on a Friday night at Negracha and with different women of at least one year’s experience and at least one has been to Buenos Aires.

The above are experiences when the cabeceo did not work for me. However, I’ve had many instances where I invite a lady, she accepts and we get up and dance, not much of a story to tell.

I was first taught the Cabeceo four years ago during an introduction to Argentine Tango class in The States. I first thought what a weird way to invite someone to dance. Why do you have to do it from the distance and in  secrecy? When I finally went to my first Argentine Tango milonga, I saw many men verbally asking women to dance so I didn’t think much of the Cabeceo.

In the past couple of months, I’ve used to Cabeceo alot. On some nights almost exclusively and with success. But its not easy in London and here are some of the reasons why I think that is so:

  1. Only some people know what it is, some treat a nod as a hello or greeting so out of politeness, even if they don’t know you, they’ll smile back.
  2. The lights are dimmed so you can’t see very far.
  3. Some women are only staring in to the dance floor and not actively searching so you have to get right in front of them, and in that case, its almost the same as inviting verbally since you’re in speaking range.
  4. Some people do not clear the floor during a cortina, or there are no cortinas so there’s always a curtain of people between you and the lady you intend to invite.
  5. While manoeuvring myself into the line of sight of a lady who isn’t actively search for a dance partner, a bozo comes over to her and verbally asks her to dance. To some, this is an incentive not to use the Cabeceo since bozo got there first.

So will I continue to use the cabeceo? I certainly will. Will I rely on it exclusively? Probably not. Negracha is probably one venue where I can try it out, some other venues are worse – 33 Portland Place for example, the upstairs dance floor as a narrow entrance on the side of the room where men and women stand together.

The other night while Negracha has a special class on stage tango,  Carablanca had one devoted purely to salon tango taught by Andreas Wichter who requested that the lights be turned up a bit so that people see a little further and could use the Cabeceo. I think it worked out well for me that night. I would certainly like it to continue that way.

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Don’t try this in a milonga, folks …

August 8, 2009

Before a stuntman does his stuff, there is always a disclaimer “Don’t try this at home, folks”. Nobody really treats this phase seriously because everyone knows the stuntman is a professional, has everything setup and the stunts themselves are indeed quite scary, its obvious that you should not try it. (Well, not all stuntmen are professionals, some are just plain stupid but thats a different story).

Often there are performances in London Milongas such as Negracha. I don’t go to there every week … when I’m not there I’m missing Tango but when I’m there I know why I don’t go that often.

Some Londoners need a bit of inspiration when dancing and unfortunately they draw their inspiration from visiting teachers and performances. Theres always a little performer in them that can’t be contained and after a performance, the dance floor is where they feel they should try some new moves they just witnessed.

Obviously not all dancers feel the need to perform, it might just take three or four bad couples on the dance floor to screw up the flow and the rest can’t dance properly.

Its a shame, what London needs are some organisers who care about floorcraft and are willing to ask badly behaving couples to tone it down a bit …