Sunday, April 29, 2018

Why the Cabeceo is important

A very nice newbie gentleman asked me recently:

"Is it ok for me to ask you to dance?"

"I prefer to use the cabeceo.  You have to ask with your eyes," I replied.

"So I just need to look at you and you will dance with me?" he asked.

"No, I have to return the look.  If I don't that means no.  Thank you for your understanding, the cabeceo is important to me."

Now, since the gentleman in question was a real gentleman, this was totally ok with him and he didn't ask "why" or "why not" or try to sit and chat with me until I relented.

Now that I follow and lead, I understand even more why the cabeceo is so important in tango.  Maybe there's a lot of people who feel differently, but for me, there's a sacred space in the embrace.  I have to trust and accept the person I allow into that space in order to create a tango that is 100%.

I hate dancing half-assed tango. There's no point to it. Are any of you out there just "going through the motions" because you have been forced to dance with someone you don't want to dance with, just to be nice?  Well, you have got to stop.  You are hurting your Tango duende*.

* Tango duende - a protective tango muse spirit that has to be carefully nurtured in order to develop into full potential to grant the protectee special tango powers.  Too much abuse of the Tango duende will make the Tango muse flee in horror and turn your tango into a kind of partnership line dancing.

Let me break it down on both sides:

Follower's perspective on a non-cabeceo invitation to dance:

You know what? I am purposely not looking in your direction because I don't want to dance with you.    I see you fine.  I am not blind or ignorant.

Yes I am busy looking at my phone but that doesn't mean you get to stand three feet from me and wave in my face to get my attention.  Has it crossed your mind that I think whatever is on my phone would be a better use of my time than a tanda with you?  Well, it's true.

Do you really want to know the reasons why I don't want to dance with you?

It may be nothing personal.  I am tired.  I don't like this tanda.  I don't know you and I don't know how you dance. Maybe my knee hurts.  No, I don't want you to sit and share with me your traditional folk remedy involving cabbage and frozen peas for fixing knee joint pain for the next twenty minutes.

It may be absolutely personal.  Here's a list:

-  I don't like the way you dance.  You fling.

-  I don't like the way you dance.  You have no musicality.

-  I don't like the way you dance.  WTF are you leading? I don't get it.

-  I don't like the way you dance.  There's a 1 in 5 chance you are going to fall over and/or step on my toes.

-  Your embrace sucks.  I enjoy hugging trees more than hugging you.

-  I am trying to cabeceo the gentleman behind you because I enjoy dancing with him more than you. Stop being in the way.

-  Our height difference gives me a crick in my neck and a twinge in my back.

-  I don't like your choice of cologne.

-  You have put on too much cologne and it's more like a toxic gas than a pleasant citrus/floral breeze.  Besides, I want to smell like the perfume I put on before I came to the milonga today and not like what you put on.

-  I don't like smelling your natural body odour/oh gawd, you friggin' STINK.


This reason is a biggie for me.  I can't dance properly if I am gagging at a horrible stench!


-  I don't like your bad breath.

-  I don't like your personality.

-  I don't like talking to you.  Or listening to what you have to say.

-  I get an allergic reaction from one or all of the above.  Hives. Runny nose. Urge to vomit.

-  I would dance with you if you use the cabeceo.  But since you didn't I don't want to.

If I had to say any or all of the above to a non-cabeceoing leader, that's quite bad enough.

But not quite as bad as me having to say "No" straight to your face and have you slink all the way back to your side of the room in humiliating defeat while everyone in the room is watching.  Right?


Leader's perspective on why it is better to get a dance from a follower with the cabeceo:

It is always BETTER to dance with someone who is willing to dance with me than someone who isn't.

I don't see the point of forcing or pressuring a follower to dance.  I don't care how "good" she is (I know some leaders out there are like "She's such a good dancer I've got to try her out!"  Like she was a new car and they want to go for a test drive).

I've danced with ladies who didn't really want to dance with me.  Maybe they were curious about following a woman leader or their friend who had danced with me and enjoyed it pushed them to ask me to dance.

I don't know if other leaders can feel the difference, but I do.

Followers who aren't willing just don't connect.*

* No entrega.  As to what this means and what this feels like, this is a subject of another post.

If someone is willing to return my cabeceo, that's actually the beginning of our connection.  We can dance a real tango if we connect.

If someone isn't accepting my cabeceo, I tell you, it's for a really good reason (see above).

I'm man/woman enough to accept AND respect that.

In fact, even though Man Yung and I are partners, a tanda that begins with a cabeceo between the two of us is more Tango than one that does not!

More of our posts on the are Cabeceo here.






Sunday, April 8, 2018

Did you know that dancing with the Milongueros is like Heaven?

I know that some red hot* Toronto tango newbie girls recently went down to Buenos Aires.

* Red hot = young, skinny, pretty, popular and wearing something tight and/or revealing.  As opposed to old and/or fat and/or ugly and sitting on the side all night and never asked to dance.  No, I'm not jealous but just stating the sad realistic facts.

I hope that when they were there, they didn't just dance with flingers.  They go to flinger classes here and dance almost exclusively with other young Toronto flingers and boy do they worship and gush over them.  They think the youthful flinger lads are the best thing since sliced bread.  A million gazillion Facebook likes!

I look at the said flinger lads flinging and 1) hope they don't fling into me and 2) roll my eyes and want to barf at the red hot newbie adoration they are getting.  Are you all mad?

Unfortunately, I really do think they went down to Buenos Aires and just went to flinger classes and flinger milongas and just danced with other young gleeful flinging people. The girls think flinging is the real authentic Tango and anything else is just bizarre.

They do not know that dancing with the Milongueros is like Heaven.  They mistakenly believe that the near-death experience of being flung in Tango at high speed is like Heaven.  As one tanguera has described to me quite aptly, "When he flung me and I clung on for dear life, my life flashed before my eyes!"

It is so sad that in a space of a few years, Tango newbies can't access how milonguero tango feels like even if they want to.  Most of the old milongueros have passed on.  People who have learned to dance with the milongueros or who have danced with the milongueros and who can transmit that wonderful tango feeling are few and far between (probably quit tango after being flung into).  Everyone is flocking either to the competition tango or the flinger tango bandwagons.

I've danced with the Milongueros, girls, and flinger Tango pales in comparison.

With the Milongueros you feel and hear the music.

With the flingers, they aren't listening.  They just want to fling and they are thinking of the next flingy step they can throw at you.

With the Milongueros, you are dancing with gentlemen.  They will protect the women they dance with and respect the people around them.

With the flingers, you are dancing with jerks and they don't care who they hit with a careless fling because they are so busy flinging.

With the Milongueros, you feel their warm, steady and confident embrace.

With the flingers - well, they've flung you out in a wide orbit and you are gripping on with your fingernails or else you are going to be flung to Mars.

It's too late now, but next trip, I hope that instead of doing the Flingtastic Tango Tour, they will go and take lessons with the few milongueros and milongueras who are left.  There are a few still teaching.  Like Myriam Pincen and Blas Catrenau.  Absolutely a match made in Tango Heaven for sure.

They recently performed at Salon Canning.  I hope you enjoy this video of their performance!






Alberto Dassieu

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