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Monday, February 2, 2009

Cabeceo for Followers (Why Doesn't it Work?)

All over the Internet I've noticed followers generally complaining about the fact that they are not getting asked to dance as often as they would like, going as far as to break with custom and actually approaching leaders and flat out asking them to dance (this usually is fine with me and I will generally will accept when I am offered, however It is considered extremely rude and is contrary to Argentine culture, and Latino culture in general).

I have also observed women behaving in ways which discourage and undermine their chances of getting asked to dance by the traditional method known as Cabeseo.

What Cabeseo is, for those that may not know, is a method of invitation to dance in which the leader (traditionally a man) asks the follower (traditionally a woman) to dance by inviting her to engage in direct eye contact from a distance. To accept the invitation the woman has simply to allow the eye contact to continue (that is to say if she wishes to accept the invitation she simply looks back into the eyes of the man with out breaking eye contact). When the woman returns the eye contact, the man must indicate that it is indeed an invitation to her with some type of head motion (a nod or motion toward the floor, the follower then nods and smiles in agreement to dance.

To decline the invitation she simply chooses not to return the eye contact.

Here are a few of the behaviors that I have observed personally, and a few ways to increase the chances of getting invited to dance.

1. Don't act like a bitch.

(a). Remember when you are at a milonga people are observing you and almost nothing goes unnoticed.

(b). If you snub 3 or 4 leaders in a row I for one will not be giving you a second look.

(c). If you snub me twice in one night I won't be asking you to dance again (until I forget).

(d). If you turn down one leader and then get up to dance one minute later with a different leader you are obviously too good to ask to dance.

(e). Don't sit around with your friends making fun of beginners (remember you were a beginner once).

(f). If you attend workshops at festivals don't skip over people in the rotation (this is just bad for the tango community and 1.a. above applies to workshops as well, remember the leaders in the workshops are the same people that are potential partners if not at the milonga later that night then maybe in six months or two years from now ).

Be a positive person rather than negative, it's just more attractive in every way.

2. Pay attention to leaders around you. It' possible you are missing invitations without even knowing it.

(a). Socializing is fine, and half the fun of milongas, but if you want to dance, look around at the beginning of every song and especially at he beginning of each new tanda. Occasionally separate yourself from you group of friends (sometimes it's hard to tell the followers that want to dance when they are laughing and talking nonstop, remember most of us were taught not to interrupt conversations when we were children).

(b). Remember, if you are sitting behind people they must turn around to notice you, (the leaders that really want to dance will look back) and if you are in front of people there maybe someone you want to dance with behind you.

3. Greet anyone that you know when you see them and introduce those around you (networking is the way the world works).

4. Find a good high traffic location. (near the isle where everyone walks off the dance floor, by the water, on the way to the restroom, close to the snacks}. return there often so that if someone wants to find you they know where to look.

5. Smile!

6. There are some postures that just say "I don't want anyone to dance with me right now."

(a). Taking off one or both shoes.

(b). Being deeply involved in conversation.

(c). Sitting back in a chair as if you are totally exhausted.

(d). Sitting as a couple, or anything that might indicate that you are at the milonga as a couple (this is another thing about Latino culture that some people may not be aware of).

7. Women who generally look "pissed off" probably aren't going to get a lot of invitations.

8. If you are busy fiddling with something, looking through your purse, texting people, talking on the phone. These are all ways of saying "I don't want to dance, especially with you".

If you do all of these things and still aren't getting the invitations, It never hurts to get a private lesson or two, It could be that there is something about the way that you dance that is just a little off (remember that guy you dance with a couple of years ago that squeezed you too hard, or was always leaning on you and really sucked)(by the way, it is possible that he may have learned a thing or two since then, give him another chance). I've danced with women who've danced for many years and aren't aware of how uncomfortable that they are to dance with, and I've learned through experience that sometimes one lesson with a competent instructor will make you into a much better dancer.

It's a learning process, but it can be done.