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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Eye spy


The tanda has started, and couples are already on the floor, blocking lines of sight for an effective cabeceo. That’s one of the challenges in a busy milonga, when you wait for the music to start before deciding who you’d like to dance it with, or even whether to dance at all.

Now, a small window of opportunity has been created, and I can see the woman I want to dance with. Did I detect interested eye-contact? Was that a small inclination of her head in acknowledgement? Too late to be certain, because the gap has quickly closed again. Better keep my eyes in that direction to see if she’s doing the same, poised, ready to confirm an agreement to dance …… or maybe she’ll be looking elsewhere now. The gap has opened again. She is still looking for me. We both nod decisively and smile. The dance is ON! ……. and we have yet to meet for the first time.

Try this in a crowded supermarket, a theatre foyer, or a school parents’ meeting, and it’d be seen as inappropriate flirting - you’d soon be put in your place. However, the accepted codes of behaviour at an Argentine tango milonga work within a different set of parameters. Not only is this behaviour O.K., but it is seen as THE respectful way to arrange a dance partner for the next 12 minutes. It’s all about context!

What a pity that so many tango communities outside Buenos Aires adhere to the view that the cabeceo is too hard, and direct approaches are expected. Tricky it may be at times, but unachievable it isn’t. It just takes persistence, modelling, and a bit of self-confidence – that’s what it took for the cabeceo to become the norm at our milongas.
Bob

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