|Cabeceo: The goal is hers as much |
as yours in tango but only
to score in soccer
|El hace un cabeceo... y ... |
Cabeceos--hitting the ball with one's head in soccer--has only one goal: to "score." Of course, one scores at the expense of the other team.A tanguero only attempts a cabeceo when she shows interest in her returned gaze during this silent exchange. Women are not passive in this necessarily, as some believe. She wants to get out and play on the "playing field"--on the dance floor--just as much as any man does. This "look" or "la mirada" can actively catch his eye, motivating even a resting tanguero to get up and dance.
The culturally aware tango dancer uses the cabeceo at no one's expense. He politely and non-verbally "requests" a dance as a gentleman after the cortina and the music begins to play. A slight movement with his head (la cabeza)--usually an upwards motion or a nod--signals this subtle exchange between a man and a woman.*
The back-in-your-face mirada
Cabeceos are made in respect to the woman's right to choose her partner and to avoid the embarrassment of an explicit rejection. Both parties are spared the unpleasantries of rejecting/being rejecting. Many people who know each other well may have a "close-up" cabeceo or simply ask for a dance. But even in these closer relationships, it is best to stay within the tradition of staying non-verbal and cautious.
Ninety-five percent of the polite cabeceos in tango are returned appropriately--by looking away with grace or accepting with grace. Mostly, a cabeco is offered politely and is most often not too near the woman, who easily could feel pressured. She can merely not respond by looking away, or the nicest way that makes it clear that she doesn't have a vision problem or happened not to see: The woman can look, smile and then demonstratively look away. That is a "no, but no thanks!" Some women tell me, "Really, I don't wear my glasses. Next time come closer!" It is hard to know; so I prefer the "non-verbal smile and look away." These are examples of a true mirada.
However, what a strange moment when the non-verbal request is returned with disrespect!
|The mean-hearted "rostro-feo" with a silent|
or vocalized "no" feels like this.
Ladies: Just turn away
It goes like this: You look at her and she ...
(1) Smiles but looks away, demonstrating not wanting to dance. (Best)
(2) Looks and indicates "no" with a small left right movement of her head. (Good)
(3) Looks and then just turns away, leaving you wondering if she even saw you or if you wore your invisible jacket again. (Okay)
(4) Looks and mouths a "no." (Rude. Why did she start with four? Were you a jerk?)
The cabeceo and mirada are responsible for many beginnings in human relationships from tandas to marriage! Primates are better at the non-verbal cabeceo and mirada than most people because it is clear "language" among those who cannot speak. I have a non-dancing, therapist friend in her seventies who read about orangutans looking at the mate in whom they had interest. Both females and males had this cabeceo/mirada trick: Look, then looking down, and then once again look up quickly, making eye contact again. (Repeat as needed.) This was a powerful way to catch the attention of anyone--primates or tanguer@s. My friend told me she tried it at an airport, and was amazed how much attention she got!
If primates and non-dancers can do this right; so can we! At parties with non-dancers, I now use the cabeceo with great success and on the rare occasion even when I go out to dance salsa. There IS NO tradition of the cabeceo in these groups. But it works very well all the same.
*A note about the above he/she language: This post is about respect. The cabeceo and mirada are mere micro-manifestations of respect for others. It is my experience that in milongas there are nearly always too many women who are sitting who want to dance. In my opinion, it is disrespectful for heterosexual men to dance with each other, leaving women sitting as the two men practice their skills in the rol femenino. Nothing I have said above has the intention that cabeceos/miradas must be done by some traditional role of man or woman as do some traditional milongas in Buenos Aires, which insist that men and women dance in their traditional roles. The issue I bring up here is respect more than any tradition. Nothing more. I have a great mirada waiting for a man when only a few women show up for a milonga. That tradition, too, comes out of Buenos Aires during a time of few women immigrating to this new land.
**Rostro-feo: Rostro --> (face or countenance) and feo --> (ugly / "naughty" when referring to children).
A note for those going to BsAs:
It is really important that you do NOT attempt a cabeceo during the cortina if you are planning to go to BsAs. However, here in Europe or in the US, if I wait for the beginning of the music, I also notice that many fine dancers are already engaged for the next tanda. A great dancer from Denver lamented that he could not catch the mirada of a woman in BsAs. Perhaps he was unaware of this very wonderful practise in BsAs, and his attempts with cabeceos were ruined because he was trying at the wrong time! In Freiburg near Switzerland, they have a very nice milonga there. Some French dancers who go there told me that it was a no-cabeceo zone. It was true. Many of the women there did not know what a cabeceo was, although there were many good dancers. I danced with the person who caused this problem: Their teacher from BsAs told me that she did not feel that the cabeceo was necessary. Perhaps the only reason I danced with her is that she responded to that "old way of doing things."
Click for more on the cabeceo in tango etiquette.
And in German: Tango-Etikette auf deutsch.
Photo credit: Click here.
See definition number 6 below is for soccer.
Diccionario de la lengua española © 2005 Espasa-Calpe:
cabecear conjugar ⇒
- intr. Mover la cabeza:
los caballos cabeceaban nerviosos.
- Negar moviendo la cabeza:
cabeceó al verle tan desarrapado.
- Dar cabezadas el que se está durmiendo:
cabeceaba todas las tardes frente a la tele.
- Moverse la embarcación bajando y subiendo la proa:
la barca cabeceaba suavemente.
- Inclinarse lo que debía estar en equilibrio:
la carga del burro cabeceó hasta caer.
- En fútbol, golpear la pelota con la cabeza:
cabeceó a portería.
- tr. Añadir vino añejo en el nuevo y, p. ext., mezclar vinos:
esas bodegas cabecean los tintos con una técnica propia.
- amer. Atar cierto número de hojas de tabaco y formar las cabezas de los cigarros:
las que cabecean el tabaco suelen ser mujeres.
'cabeceo' aparece también en las siguientes entradas: