I promised I would bring back some of my experience from the Women’s Retreat where I commented a week back about the class I was going to teach that centered on the pelvis and its function in alignment in tango.
Well, the Women’s Retreat was a wonderful way for me to connect with other women in tango. There were varied levels of experience in tango amongst us. There were some great conversations and insights into our shared interest of leading and following. I was delighted that a few older women commented on their excitement about the younger generation interest in tango. “Who is going to carry on when we’re gone?” I remember hearing this from some older students of mine as well.
I was inspired by sharing conversations with one lovely Hannah from the Portland area – an articulate brilliant young woman exploring and finding her way in tango. I was impressed by so many things she had to share but particularly by her interest in keeping the “cabaceo” alive and kicking. In her community – she says that people know already that she uses the cabaceo and she encourages her students to use it.
What is the “cabaceo”? There are many writings on this art of asking someone to dance but in a nutshell it is a word that comes from Spanish or specifically castellano (Argentine Spanish) cabeza which means head. The cabaceo is the invitation to dance: a lock of the eyes, a simple subtle nod of the head, and typically from a distance. It is an invitation that no one else needs to know about. It is an invitation that can also be rejected without embarrassment, ideally. This means, for example, if someone catches my eye from across the dance floor and I choose not to dance with him then I do not lock eyes with them or nod my head in agreement. That leader may then move on looking for his next follower without “losing face”, so to speak.
Some of us use it strongly in our communities others not as much. But it seemed that there was a general consensus that the cabaceo works and is good for tango. The leader or a follower can ask for a dance through the use of the cabaceo and also be rejected from a dance by not acknowledging it. It was also remarked that the rejection needs to not necessarily be taken so personally. Someone mentioned that if you are “cabaceoing” someone all night and they have not caught your eye – then maybe they are trying to tell you something. This is sometimes hard to accept especially in smaller communities where everyone tends to know each other. I think the cabaceo works well in all circumstances actually. We also spoke about cabaceoing another follower to dance with. This dynamic doesn’t seem to have been worked out completely yet… but I think in communities where followers know that other followers are leading the cabaceo works the same.
Upon my return from the retreat and back to the classroom for the final days of classes at ASU I was struck by 1 of my more enthusiastic beginners’ interest in discussing the cabaceo and how he had spent time researching it online. He too has decided that the cabaceo is worth keeping and using and was encouraging the rest of the class to try it out.
SO I think the cabaceo is still alive and well even in Tempe, AZ. I know many members of the community enjoy using it and you’ll be seeing more of my students trying it out!
How’s your cabaceo?