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Monday, 18 August 2014

Cabeceo - more than an invitation.


We have written often about the power of the cabeceo - the invitation to dance. However, there’s a case to be made that the cabeceo injects other elements into the milonga – and not necessarily explicitly.

Clearly, the cabeceo is a strategy for engaging with other dancers, but it also shows a willingness to engage.   It can be very frustrating for a dancer, accustomed to using the cabeceo, to attend milongas where he/she is faced with dancers who rely on the direct approach.  He/she will sit, looking around for eye-contact, willing to engage, but receive no response.  The others will chat, dance only with their friends, or scroll through their text messages!  Going to a milonga, where everyone who wishes to dance the tanda is actively looking, is such a relief.

…. and what about the milongas where the cabeceo has become the norm?  I would suggest that the dancers have also adopted other codes of behaviour, typical of traditional milongas – and this spills over into how they dance.  There’s a greater likelihood that the line-of-dance and navigation are good, there’s a respect for other couples, movements are conservative, the atmosphere is calm, and the dancers are attentive to the music.  In other words, an engaging place to be.

Bob

5 comments:

Chris said...

Bob wrote: "cabeceo ... shows a willingness to engage. It can be very frustrating for a dancer, accustomed to using the cabeceo, to attend milongs where he/she is faced with dancers who rely on the direct approach. He/she will sit, looking around for eye-contact, willing to engage, but receive no response."

Cabeceo works as a show of willingness to engage with those who use it. No response from those who don't shows their unwillingness to engage with those who do.

So frustration can be avoided by remembering that 'no response' to a cabaceo means No, regardless.

Chris said...

Bob wrote: "…. and what about the milongas where the cabeceo has become the norm? I would suggest that the dancers have also adopted other codes of behaviour, typical of traditional milongas – and this spills over into how they dance."

Agreed. And it goes the other way too.

The ultimate source is tango, the music. Which is why we find traditional customs emerging at milongas playing traditional music. And why e.g. cabaceo would seem out of place and contrived at a tango disco playing electronic music etc.

Tango Salon Adelaide said...

There are a number of reasons why dancers don’t use the cabeceo, and one, of course, is they don’t wish to engage at that moment or with particular dancers. Other reasons could include ignorance of its use, lack of confidence, or it not being the norm in their tango community . However, this post was essentially about the wider influence of the cabeceo, plus a brief reference to the experience of dancers from tango communities which use the cabeceo, when they go to those which don’t.
Bob

Anonymous said...

I am new to tango and find cabeceo very difficult. Not only the eye contact but also whether he is looking at me or the person next to me. Do you have any advice for newbies on how to manage eye contact when their confidence is not there?

Tango Salon Adelaide said...

Good question, Anonymous.

Difficulty with the cabeceo goes with the territory of being a newby, because the cabeceo takes personal confidence and confidence in your dancing). Confidence to look out for potential partners (as a newby, be realistic and don't just look out for the best dancers), and confidence to remain seated until he approaches you close enough to confirm the invitation by eye contact with you, not the person next to you.

We've written a lot about the cabeceo, so you may find some of these posts helpful.
http://www.tangosalonadelaide.blogspot.com.au/search/label/cabeceo

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