Posts Tagged ‘Cabeceo’

Saying ‘yes’ to say ‘no’

June 20, 2012

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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Who needs lights?

June 6, 2010

You need decent lighting to be able to cabeceo someone.

Why do you want to cabeceo someone? Well, its the traditional way of inviting someone to dance in Argentine Tango.

Its useful for the man because he can get rejected without everyone else in the room noticing. Men will always be men. We hate being rejected and we certainly don’t want the world to know about it! So I use the cabeceo where and when I can.

However, if you’re at a milonga where its so dark that you can only see half the width of the dance floor, eye contact is very difficult. Not to mention that half the ladies aren’t even looking out for the cabeceo because there are so many men that don’t use it. Those men are happy for the whole dancefloor to see that they got rejected.

I was at The Light’s Saturday night opening. It was a nice venue but the lights weren’t very powerful and it was a blue-ish tint which makes it even darker. It was quite difficult to see very far in terms of trying to cabeceo someone. BUT – what I noticed was that I could barely make out who was who anyway. Except towards the end when most people had left and you could guess who was who, but earlier in the evening, even if you got rejected, people across the room certainly wouldn’t have known who you were.

So who needs lights and cabeceo when milonga organisers can just off the lights and make it as dim as possible so you can’t see people being rejected?

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.