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Sunday, 4 November 2012

How do you like your cabeceo?

Curiously, the cabeceo seems to provoke strong reactions in some people.  Yet, it can be an elegant way of showing an interest in dancing with a particular person, and allowing them real choice in the matter.  With increased personal confidence in tango and a little practice, it becomes quite easy.  Of course, that doesn't mean that you'll always get your own way.  After all, it's about choice - for all involved!

Perhaps people who reject the cabeceo feel a little threatened by it somehow.  Don't so many of us simply avoid the things we don't understand?

In Adelaide, it's delightful to see an increasing number of people getting the hang of the cabeceo.  Some use it with apparent ease, while others are still honing their skills and may experience awkward moments.

How do you like your cabeceo?  At the beginning of a tanda which you would like to dance to, do you ...
  1. continue talking with the person next to you and then wonder why you're not dancing to that wonderful music?
  2. approach the person, and indicate non-verbally that you'd like to dance with her/him?
  3. focus on a person for a short while, so that they have a chance to register your interest.  If they don't appear interested, you direct your gaze at a different potential partner?
  4. look around the salon; your gaze alighting briefly on potential partners of interest, until one of them responds positively?
  5. stare intently at a person, regardless of whether they have clearly ignored your gaze. Continue to stare at her/him, in the hope of wearing down their defences?
Which method works for you?  What strategies permit real choice with no pressure?  Do you have other cabeceo suggestions?



  1. I like 3 and 4 as they seem like a natural and casual approach, The only problem that i personally have encounted is that due to my and others less than 20/20 vision , Sometimes after getting a receptive nod or smile , when I approach the ladys table to escort my partner to the floor two ladies have stood up !!!#, We all have been able to have a bit of a giggle about it however I understand that for a second its an "awkward moment",!. Perhaps for us vision challenged a large neon red and green flag could be handy, :-} . Steve

  2. I've had a few of those moments in Buenos Aires, Steve, where my intended partner did the right thing by waiting in her seat until I approached, only to have another lady walk onto the floor to greet me. I didn't embarass her by making her error obvious, but gave my intended partner a subtle nod to indicate "next tanda". My normal practice is: several times during the approach to her table, I use the cabeceo to reconfirm with the lady who accepted my invitation. That means that she knows that we have agreed to dance, and without her having to leave her seat, she can calmly wait for my arrival. However, it doesn't stop the occasional mix-up.
    I agree with your choices of option 3 & 4. ... Bob

  3. Hello!
    It's worth noting that poor lighting pretty much sabotages the whole thing. So if the person who is in charge of the lights thinks the place is meant to be a nightclub, you have a conflict there.

  4. Hi MsHedgehog!
    Thanks for adding this important comment. Some organisers do get this aspect, as well as the seating wrong.


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