Tag Archives: Cabeceo

How We Teach & Promote Argentine Tango

... Tango Awareness, that is.

1. We play only traditional Argentine Tango music AND we only dance to this music.

2. We teach our students to dance counter-clockwise, in one lane, and to not pass other couples (unless absolutely necessary – and NEVER on the right side of a couple) AND we dance with these proper floor skills.

3. We teach our students to keep their feet on the ground as much as possible AND we keep our feet on the ground as much as possible.

4. We do not teach ganchos or other unnecessary movements AND we don’t dance with these kinds of movements.

5. We teach social and improvised Tango that is conducive to dancing on a milonga floor AND we dance a social and improvised Tango.

6. We teach the “cabeceo” (reminding our students that it is done from your seat and not at the corner of the woman’s table) AND we actually use it.

7. As teachers, when we go to Buenos Aires, we go as students ready to learn more. We take classes, we learn more about the music, we dance socially, and we live Tango.

8. We teach our students about the music and the importance of it. We tell them which orchestra/singer/era will be playing during the class. We even remind our students that they should not embrace until the song has begun in order to develop a feeling for what is being played.

9. We teach our students that a “cortina” is a small piece of non-Tango music used to CLEAR the floor between “tandas” and no one should dance to the “cortina” or remain on the floor during this time.

10. We tell our students to go out dancing, to dance with various partners… but we also let our students know that they are allowed to decline dances for whatever reason.

*Although we teach and promote these concepts (and more) with the hope that we’re positively influencing our students, we are often reminded that people will eventually make their own choices – for better or for worse.


Tango Victims: Charity Dances, Pity Dances, and Being “Nice” Dances

*I vant to suck your Tango blood!

We overheard two women over the span of five minutes ask a young tanguero to dance with them later in the night.  We know this tanguero and his inability to say no; the same inability that still creeps up on Jorge sometimes.  Heck, K has even been caught off guard lately.  Women abuse this knowledge and are often asking said tanguero for dances.  Although we’ve written about the lack of a consistently used “cabeceo” in our community and how we believe that women and men have equal rights to ask for dances, there’s something that people should understand about Tango: Tango and Tango dancers are to be respected.

This is what we overheard: “I was his partner in the class so he should be nice and dance with me in the milonga.”  This is not so different from the common rumblings of how tango teachers should dance with their students in a milonga.  Or how friends should dance with friends.  Or how better dancers should be “generous” with their dances and dance with beginners.  These types of statements are very frustrating.  To begin with, most people go to a milonga to have a good time, enjoy dancing, and get away from the “real world”.  Then why are people being expected to do something that may include not having a good time or enjoying their dance?  Practicas can be used for this. That said, Toronto has, in the past, been virtually void of any real practicas.  Either everyone has already “perfected” their Tango or they think practicing means dancing a whole song or tanda without stopping, without giving feedback, and in general, without improving one’s dance.

What gets to us more than this is the complete disregard for what Tango is and what it means to dance Tango with someone you don’t want to.  Tango is an extremely intimate dance.  You are putting your chests together, wrapping your arms around one another, touching heads/faces and sharing approximately 12 minutes of your life this way.  Forget Tango for a second and ask yourself how you would like it if a stranger came up to you and asked/demanded a 12 minute hug from you (simply because you had a chat with them at the corner store)?

If you want to dance with a visiting/local teacher, take privates with them.  When your dancing is enjoyable for the both of you, the teacher will ask you to dance or let you know they would like to dance with you in a milonga.  Teachers are people too and they dance Tango because they love it (or at least we do).   No one should have to sacrifice their love of the dance to dance with students, potential students, friends, or just to be “nice”?

As in all facets of life, there are exceptions,  but these should not be expectations.  In order to avoid making any assumptions, please use the cabeceo.  Use it from your seat.  Don’t come and stand around the person you want to dance with in a stalker-like fashion.  This, by definition, turns the potential dance partner into a Tango victim.


Mopping The Floor

We assume in all communities there exists certain men who are known to approach almost all women for a dance.  They will not even attempt to pick up on any non-verbal cues including a shake of the head in the negative.  In fact, they will even ignore verbal cues such as “not now”, “I’m tired”, and “maybe later”.  At times, these men will practically drag the women onto the dance floor.  All of this should make it perfectly clear to these women what kind of dancing will ensue.   These men proceed to mop the floor clean with their partner for the duration of the tanda.  It is embarrassing and torturous, and some women quickly learn from this experience and will never again say yes to these men.  Others can’t find it in themselves to say no and allow themselves to be tortured over and over again (because “mopping men” tend to be Leading Cheaters).

You never have to dance with a man you do not want to.  Please don’t believe otherwise. Use the cabeceo, but if you don’t, remember that this does not negate the fact that women can make choices.  We live in a country that tries to provide women with equal rights.  Women should grab this equal right by the horns and JUST SAY NO.  Stop dancing with the “mopping men” because they do not respect you or your Tango.


Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am!

Regardless of the city and customs, it is safe to say that in every Tango community, the man appears in front of the woman for a dance.  Whether it be by cabeceo – where the woman waits at her seat until the man arrives in front of her in order to avoid any mistaken acceptances – or by direct verbal invitation at the woman’s seat, the man has made the trek to the woman’s location.  How nice and brave of him to have done so!

Fred Astaire the gentleman

What ensues may or may not be a delightful dance.  Perhaps both of you cannot wait for the songs to be over.  On the other hand, you may be experiencing a wonderful embrace while moving delightfully to the music.  The last song of the tanda will end, you will thank each other, and then the leader will leave the follower high and dry on the dance floor to find her own way back to her seat.  What?!

How has the simple tradition of  walking a woman back to her seat after a dance – which exists in many countries around the world – not made its way into North American Tango culture?  Although we assume it did exist in the past with other dances, it no longer exists in our ultra modern society (sarcasm).  Being from Finland, Jorge has never known to do any differently until we began Tango in Canada.  Besides observing how men leave their partner from any place on the dance floor, Jorge has actually had difficulty bringing women back to their seats.  Some women are so used to the complete lack of gentlemanly courtesy that they are virtually running off the dance floor after the tanda, leaving Jorge to follow in their wake.  The expression “Wham bam thank you ma’am” feels very appropriate here.

Men, after sharing your body, mind, and spirit with your Tango partner, have the decency to walk women back to their seats.  If you haven’t already been practicing this concept or it doesn’t exist in your community, now is the time to start!

Women, after sharing your body, mind, and spirit with your Tango partner, have the decency to allow men to walk you back to your seats.