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Sunday, 14 December 2008

Cabeceo ….. the subtle game of pursuit

Having been immersed in the tradition of Buenos Aires milongas, I still feel compelled to use the ‘cabeceo’. Cruising around the milongas with hand outstretched is not for me, nor creeping up on unsuspecting women with a tap on the shoulder. Such a public display of authority will quickly change to one of abject humiliation if the object of my desire replies with a sharp, “No thanks”!

What now? Slink back to my chair and become as small a target of sniggers as possible, or repeat the clumsy request with another woman … who now knows full well that she’s ‘second best’?

After all, she had every right to slam the door in my face – she mightn’t know how well ……. or badly, I dance. Or perhaps she does, and is looking after HER reputation in the milonga. Who’s going to give her a second look if she’s subjected to 10 or 12 minutes of stumbling around, avoiding mis-directed back sacadas and stepping to a beat that barely resembles what the orchestra is pumping out?

But wait a minute - I know I’m better than that. I also know that women have music they love to dance to and other pieces that they hate – just like I do. All the more reason for them not to look my way when some music is playing, but if it’s Canaro, Di Sarli, Donato, Malerba, D’Arienzo, Rodriguez, etc., then I’d expect any woman who wants to dance with me to at least give me a glance.

Often, if I’m sitting with a lady I’ll invite her to dance, but how would I know when other potential partners are available and want to dance with me? The glance – that’s it; then a nod - no more. Of course, I know better than to interrupt a woman when she’s deep in conversation! But if the music lights her fire, then she’ll chat AND scan ….. She wants to dance!

So, when does my cabeceo start? In a sense, it starts as soon as I see dancers on the floor at a milonga. I watch and work out which women I’d like to dance with – their technique, embrace, musicality, poise: some or all of those. Then I wait … for the right music. I take a long hard look at a woman I’d like to dance with. If our eyes connect, then it’s onto the dance-floor to connect with each other and the music.


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