Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Classic 'cabeceo' errors no. 1

"I know he prefers being asked by looking, and I tried it, but I couldn't get it to work, so I went up and asked."

Noooooooo! if you can't make it work, that doesn't mean you're doing it wrong. You probably did it practically perfectly. It means he said no, not right now, thanks. The fact that it didn't hurt is a feature, not a bug. Put him further back in your queue and try again another time.

Knowing who really enjoys your dance is quite informative and helpful and gives you a lot of confidence over time, I recommend it.


Anonymous said...

that's right - "not just right now" isn't the same as never

sometimes the music isn't right
sometimes the bloke isn't feeling so well
sometimes he's genuinely tired and saving his energy for a good one

"asking" can lead to failure. he'll dance badly because the music isn't right, he's tired, he's ill.

Joy in Motion said...

I will heartily affirm this one. I have been on the receiving end of this with one man in particular - a regular in our community - who refuses to take "no" for an answer with his cabeceo, to the point that he stands near the floor in view of my table and just stares at me. Makes me feel very uncomfortable, stalked even. Defeats the entire point of the cabeceo, which is allowing each of us to graciously decline and/or save face when we're the one being turned down.

Thank you for this. It seems like common sense, but some people just don't understand the custom (and social etiquette in general) in its fullness.

Anonymous said...

If someone is avoiding your look - be assured that that person is not willing to dance with you, be it a leader or a follower. Trying to force anything else by walking and asking is adding insult to injury. People tend to forget that Tango rules do not supersede good manners.

BTW, why do followers need to be in the active side of the cabeceo anyway? The best followers that do cabeceo, don't do it at all: they receive it. And they do it by constantly monitoring possible partners. If everyone is on the ask-side, who will be there to answer?

Anonymous said...

Joy in Motion: Are you in my Tango Community? and I didn't know it! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Yes, and it works the same the other way too!
@anonymous, followers are always active with cabeceo. They look to see who is looking! If the man they want isn't looking at them, then they look for others they might dance with. They usually don't actively invite. If the woman isn't looking, how does the man know who to ask?!

ghost said...


At the moment for me the cabeceo has three phases.

The first one is looking around without catching anyone's eye to see who's available. Either using soft focus or positioning to achieve this.

Second phase is to glance at someone I want to dance with who is interested

Third phase is the actual nod.

But for me there's a distinction between the first and second phases unless for some reason I just want to dance and don't actually care who with (unlikely)

Anonymous said...

@londontango we are in the same page here - by cabeceo I understand just what the word means: the nod of the head.

cindy said...

re women not taking active part in choosing (with a laser look)- not true. although i'm not quite able to do it myself (yet?), i've certainly seen it done well ... & have heard it recommended by women of experience & all the best tango pedigree.

cindy said...

oh no! i should have said, 'credentials'. my brain didn't find the right word when i wanted it.

El Ingeniero said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
El Ingeniero said...

Well ... I ventured onto the dance-forums website and posted about the cabeceo, and got resoundingly told off. A lot of the people who objected to my attempts to bring up the cabeceo were mostly from London and other parts of the UK. That, and the apparent affinity for nuevo music and dancing, which I don't share, made for some 'interesting' discussions.

If the commenters on the forum are representative of the London/UK tango community then I would definitely think twice (or 10 times) before dancing tango there! Please hold down the fort :)

msHedgehog said...

@Ingeniero - It's a mixture, but I wouldn't say that was representative. It is of a subset, but only a subset. If you actually intend to dance in London, drop me a line.