Getting Asked to Dance – About the Cabaceo
Traditionally, the cabeceo is the way that leaders invite followers to dance.
Leaders invite followers from a relative distance by catching their eye and motioning with their head. If she would like to accept the invitation she will nod back. If the woman does not want to be invited to dance, she must subtly look the other way or avoid looking in his direction altogether.
In the traditional milongas in Argentina, inviting a follower verbally at her table is considered an encroachment and often rejected out of hand. Advancing toward a lady and nodding aggressively at her defies the whole reason and mutual consideration that is at the heart of the cabeceo. Make sure from a distance that you are requesting, not demanding and that there is truly a mutual desire on her part. Likewise, ladies, you can make your desire known by looking at the gentlemen you may like to dance with, but staring intensely or incessantly can feel invasive and defeats your purpose – again make sure you are checking in and requesting, not demanding. Once the agreement has been sealed, he will come to meet her at the edge of the floor closest to her table and the couple will dance the tanda together. At the end of the tanda, the leader will accompany her back to her chair or to the edge of the floor where they met. Leaving her in the middle of the floor is considered bad form.
Cabaceo Tips :
• Bring your glasses if needed to make sure you can see across the room.
• If you are talking and not looking to cabeceo at the beginning of a tanda, you might likely miss dancing that tanda. Often we have men say that the women are talking and not attending to the potential invitations! You can talk and look.
• Use the cabeceo at the beginning of a tanda (or during), not during the cortina. This way you know what music you will be dancing to.
• Make sure you both make eye contact, then the gentleman asks with an upward questioning nod and she nods to confirm. Locking eyes is not enough to seal the agreement.
• The leader then goes to her table maintaining eye contact across the floor. This further helps the ladies avoid confusion as to who is being invited to dance.
• Ladies, it’s a good idea to not get up from your seat until you are absolutely positive that he is coming for you. Wait to be sure.
• Leaders, if two followers get up for you as you cross the floor, it’s nice to apologize to the one you did not cabaceo. It is a courtesy to ask her to dance the next tanda, if you want to (but you are not obligated to).