Skip to content

August 31, 2007


Everyday cabeceo

To many people who have not had the opportunity to visit Buenos Aires, the cabeceo can be a strange beast. Often, and especially for newcomers to Tango, the cabeceo seems to be just another mysterious tradition, practiced by people in a foreign land and seemingly quite removed from reality. In fact, reading from the discussions on Tango-L, it seems almost like if you have never been to Buenos Aires then you simply won’t get it! For the record, the cabeceo is simply an “invitation and acceptance to dance by exchanging glances”. That is, once this “invitation” is made and a “confirmation” glance has been received, the man approaches the lady and they commence to dance.

However, it occurred to me the other day that, even right here in Singapore, “invitation by eye contact” is something people do very naturally and. surprisingly, quite often. In fact, it is as simple as hailing a taxi.

Don’t believe me?

Imagine yourself walking down the street. You are looking for a taxi, in a hurry. You gaze anxiously down the road, then look across to the other side for taxis coming from the opposite direction. Suddenly, a taxi appears and you frantically try to make eye contact with the driver before he disappears and leaving you stranded. Naturally you can achieve this by waving your arms like an Energizer bunny, but what if your hands are full of stuff? You can do it with your eyes, of course! By the way, in this scenario, it goes without saying that if the taxi is zooming past you at high speed, then this “technique” is unlikely to work. Kind of reminds me of those ladies who are happily chatting away among friends during milonga from time to time – it’s obvious they are not interested to dance during those moments… 🙂

On the other hand, sometimes it’s the taxi drivers who are on the lookout for passengers. Well, if you are not interested, you can politely decline using any of the following approaches, either 1) ignore, 2) look away, or 3) with a slight share of the head. Again, no hands, and no verbal communication required. Life goes on.

Read more from Musings, Social Dancing
  1. Jan 3 2008

    Hi there,
    Just came across your site and your observations about the all-important cabeceo. I totally agree with you – it’s not rocket science, just normal human body language. I’ve given a brief historical perspective on the cabeceo, if you’re interested.
    BTW, would you like to include our site in your Australian listing? We’re in Adelaide, as the name suggests.
    Happy dancing,

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Fishnets
  2. Hands-on cabeceo : YYQuest Tango Blog

Comments are closed.