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Tuesday, 12 August 2014


Respect lies at the heart of tango, and it begins with that most respectful of invitations to dance – the cabeceo.

It continues with the embrace the man offers the woman – one of surrounding her with security.  An open embrace cannot provide this security, and one that puts her in strait-jacket does not respect her response.

So what else should the respectful man bring to his partner? Clear body communication and good body control will allow him to move with stability, balance, & precision.  Add to that a knowledge of tango music that will allow him to exhibit good musicality, with changing dynamics and energy.   He will have an ability to suggest the next movement …. and then wait for her response, finally moving with her.  His aim will be to create a resonance of movement and response to the music with his partner.  The bottom line – a constant focus on his partner: his lead, her response – as well as an acute awareness of the music.  Respect for her!

What can we say of the man who ignores much of this?  The man who believes that there is no reason to develop himself because he will dance anyway … most often by pressuring women with direct requests.  Is he disrespectful, arrogant, or just plain lazy?

Regardless of the answer, let’s encourage the men who show respect for women in their tango community by wanting to improve, using whatever means available to them. That involves more than going to lots of milongas and dancing every tanda in the same way.  Women deserve better than this! 

I suspect most women would gladly accept the cabeceo invitation of men who respect their partners - those men who make an ongoing effort to internalise the music and develop their social dancing skills. 


1 comment:

  1. Bob... this boils down tango etiquette to its foundation. Upon that foundation are lots of little things that we can do. Respect is shown in so many little ways. Accompanying a woman back to her chair, for example, has often received the comment: "You are such a gentleman!" This surprises me. Why should this be "unusual" or even worth comment? Tango on the social dance floor is a dance of respect for the opposite sex, not a unisex improvisational dance. Coming up and asking for a dance and then dropping her off cold on the dancefloor saddens me. In tango respect has many expressions of kindness. In religion, faith is analogous to tango's respect, and faith also has many expressions of kindness behind it.. Ask St. James: "Fath without works is dead." In tango: Respect without courtesies and kindness is only a shell of what tango really is. Happy dancing in the Church of the Embrace! :-)


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