An excerpt from a pretty good post on Tango-L today by Melina Sedo (partner of Detlef Engel, their website is here):
I find it so very important to make everybody understand, that youDear leaders: I am not being shy when I turn my head and look away when you are trying to get my attention. I simply just don't want to dance with you.
need to respect the codes of polite behaviour, when you're in a
Milonga. It's not even about Tango-Codigos, it's just basic
-You do not invite someone to dance, who avoids eye-contact to you.
-You do not sneek up from behind and surprise him or her.
-You do not interrupt a serious conversation.
-You do not assume, that every person will love to dance with you,
even when she has never had the chance to see you on the dance floor.
-And, if you happened to "break" this rules: You do not insult
someone, if this person declines politely to dance with you: nobody
is OBLIGED to spend time hugging you.
Unfortunately all of this happened a lot to me during our recent tour
to the US, even in the "very traditional" Milongas:
I am used to being invited by the Cabezeo/Mirada and I rarely accept
a direct invitation out of several reasons: Very often I am just
tired after a day of classes or I have not seen the person dance yet,
so I avoid eye contact. Or I am doing something else, like resting
between two tandas and drinking a glass of wine or talking to
someone. Or of course, I just don't want to dance with this person.
So, if I get invited in such a case, I decline very politely and
always with a smile. I do not want to hurt anybody.
But: Apart from being forced to decline direct invitations of
stangers so extremely often in the US, I got some real rude
reactions, like an omnious "You made a big mistake", uttered in a
Sometimes, things like that happened MULTIPLE times at the same
Milonga, once even with the SAME person.
And one man (an Argentine!) did something real strange: I was just
avoiding eye-contact with everybody as I was very tired and this man
came to my table and asked me. As I had declined already declined
three (!) direct invitations during this one Tanda, I told him very
nicely: "Excuse me sir, I'm quite a traditionalist, so I don't accept
invitations at the table. I'm so sorry." He smiled and stepped some
meters away and looked at me in a Cabeceo-like-way. I was so stunnd,
that I accepted his invitation, but later on I was even more surprised.
He told me, that he was an Argentine and uses the Cabeceo on a
regular basis. But: I had not reacted like the argentine women do:
they look, if they want to dance with you! So, I asked him, WHAT DOES
THAT MEAN NOW? THAT I DID NOT WANT TO DANCE WITH YOU!
Unbelievable, but true.
Sometimes, truth is stanger than fiction... ;-)
If I really, really wanted to dance with you I guarantee I will make you know it. Not only will I fix my unblinking basilisk glare on you in order to elicit the cabaceo, I may even do as some other ladies do to get dances - i.e. offer to take as many private classes with you as possible, plead and whine and grovel and beg for a dance while you are getting a beer at the bar, or perhaps even ambush you right as you are leaving the washroom.
So, until the day you find me waiting to pounce on you on the other side of the washroom door, please just ask my friends (who are not only much nicer than me - they are also not completely tired out by the dance stylings of Man Yung) to dance, ok?