Saying ‘yes’ to say ‘no’

I haven’t stopped dancing, its just that I changed companies and WordPress is blocked at work and I’m usually too tired/busy after work to write new entries … I’ve been dancing less lately, partly due to other things happening in life and partly due to not really having a great time in milongas.

One thing that really kills it for me is when I’m trying to cabeceo a lady for a dance, some sod comes up and sticks their hands out to invite the woman, and the woman accepts. So if I’m in an environment where walking up to invite is so common, what do I do?

Javier was talking about codigos recently and I was lucky enough to attend his very popular classes. He promotes the cabeceo without any reservations and he talking about various strategies to use and educate it.

Disclaimer: what I present below is what I made out from his broken English (which is getting a lot better) and also the interpreter’s broken English. Javier may have been tying to make an entirely different point but these are what I think he was saying.

Firstly, never walk up to a woman and invite her to dance. If she’s not someone who uses the cabeceo much (or at all), you can walk up to her, chat but do not invite her to dance. Instead, ask if she wants to dance to XYZ orchestra later when it comes on. (Of course, if that orchestra doesn’t come on then this may not work). But the idea is to suggest to her to look for you at a later time in the evening.

And for the women, saying no is nasty. Its not nice to say it and its even worse to receive it. When a particular poor dancer or beginner who does not know the cabeceo walks up to invite, there are ways to reject them and not make them feel so bad. The suggestion first involved saying yes – you will help them by going to classes with them (if you want) or practising with them so that they get better. But no, you will not dance with them at this particular time because you want to dance with XYZ over there who instead.

I have read that no is no and women don’t ever need to explain why, but I’ve been on the receiving end of many rejections and its never nice. If you’re in a particularly quiet milonga, it can get a little awkward as well and I do think Javier’s suggestions of saying yes to say no is nice.


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3 Responses to “Saying ‘yes’ to say ‘no’”

  1. jantango Says:

    Are you referring to Javier Rodriguez in this post? If so, I doubt he ever goes to a milonga anywhere in the world to dance socially. He is there for teaching and exhibition. He is not a social dancer.

    He says never make a verbal invitation and then suggests a means of reserving a tanda. I disagree with this approach. This gives men an excuse not to use the cabeceo and obligates the woman. There is nothing more satisfying that wanting to dance with someone on the far side of the room and then doing so without any previous conversation with them.

    We don’t always get what we want in life. The sooner we learn to accept “no” as the answer, the sooner we’ll deal with it. No is not nasty. It is a woman’s right to say no without giving any reason. That’s why the cabeceo has been used for so many decades in BsAs. It works. Women refuse an invitation without anyone else knowing. Once a man receives a “no,” he never bothers her again. No means no in the milongas of BsAs.

    • yabotil Says:

      Hi Jantango,

      Yes, I was referring to Javier Rodriguez, I can’t comment on whether he dances socially around the world or not but its probably due to my inability to reflect his broken English, but his goal was trying to suggest a way to get the women to look up and look around more.

      I wish more women around the world would use the cabeceo but unfortunately in environments outside of BsAs (which I’ve been to), women are glad to accept men who walk up and stick their hand out.

      Last night I watched a girl accept a dance from a man who walked up and tapped her. They danced a tango tanda and then they continued onto a second tanda (I’m guessing he asked her again during the cortina). During the second tanda, she walked off after the second song flicking her wrist. I’m assuming his embrace could be improved. But I doubt that she would say no next time she gets invited verbally.

      Please feel free to suggest any methods I could use to get the women here to use it more …

  2. jantango Says:

    The women won’t accept with a nod until that’s the only way to dance. When the cabeceo is the main way, the women will response with a nod because it works. They’ll get to dance. This doesn’t mean that women initiate the invitation; that’s the man’s role.

    Those who accept a tap on the shoulder and a second tanda from the same partner get to dance, but the question is how well and do they enjoy it. It’s about choice — when and with whom a woman wants to dance. For some it’s about not sitting out and any man will do.

    If the organizer is agreeable, turn up the lights, seat men and women at separate tables, and announce that head movement is the way to invite/accept a tanda.

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