Tango Argentino > Argentine Tango Etiquette

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by pygmalion, Nov 4, 2003.

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Can you tell I've been web surfing again? I found this cool link which lists lots of AT etiquette tips.

    http://www.tangocentral.com/usa/newyork/elchino/BSASCODE.HTM


    I found this excerpt to be especially interesting -- using the eye/glance method for asking someone to dance. Do people actually do this?


    Using the "Eye / Glance Method" (to ask a person to dance)
    I have been told by friends who grew up in BsAs or who have visited Argentina that a social etiquette has developed there which allows men and women to ask each other, using a nonverbal method, to dance. The embarrassment of being turned down for a dance after walking up to a person and directly asking for a dance (see below) is eliminated. Some people feel this method is more civilized, polite, and dignified.

    The technique can be called the "eye / glance" method. At a milonga if a man wants to get a woman to dance he will look at her and wait for her to look in his direction. After a woman realizes the man is looking at her she will allow their eyes to meet and "lock" only if she wants to dance with him. If she does NOT want to accept his request at that moment (for the reasons described above) or she NEVER wants to dance with the man (eg. if he is NOT respectful of the other women who have danced with him) she will look away.

    However, a smile or a nod will indicate the woman's acceptance of the request and she will maintain the eye contact. This is very important, and men/women who are shy or have a tendency to look away may have difficulty with this technique. The man who initiated the request will then acknowledge in a similar way. Then the man and the woman will walk towards each other and meet on the dance floor, or the woman will wait for the man to walk and meet her where she is sitting or standing, before starting the first dance.

    With this system, women can also ask men to dance by looking at men. However, I get the impression from friends who have visited Argentina that many Argentine men will NOT accept a dance if they do NOT "initiate" the first glance themselves. They may at first decline a woman's request to dance, but they might ask the same woman to dance later in the evening, perhaps after they have watched the woman dance with other men (whose dancing they respect).
     
  2. will35

    will35 New Member

    Quoted from above article. "With this system, women can also ask men to dance by looking at men. However, I get the impression from friends who have visited Argentina that many Argentine men will NOT accept a dance if they do NOT "initiate" the first glance themselves. They may at first decline a woman's request to dance, but they might ask the same woman to dance later in the evening, perhaps after they have watched the woman dance with other men (whose dancing they respect)."

    Perhaps the man thinks the lady is a foreigner. Foreign women sometimes, especially American women, sometimes make a great deal of eye contact. America is still a rural place. I am from the country. I used to look everyone in the eye. When I moved to the city when I was younger, people knew when I was in the subway that I was not a local. Grab a train in the Bronx one morning, and you'll see what I mean. People looking at their hands, their bags, the window, anything but somebody else's eye. If a woman in a milonga is looking at every man's eye, she looks not like a local asking for a dance, but like an American who does not unserstand the codes of the milonga. Not really about etiquette, but about cultural misunderstanding. It is just a tradition that the man look at the woman to ask for the dance. It is called cabeceo. Yes, there are many other ways it could possibly be done, but for now, this is what we have. Of course, if you go with a group of friends you sit together and switch partners as many times as you like. The customs are not as chauvinistic as they sound. They are there to protect women from the vultures who swoop down on the tables when they are talking with friends. They are a necessary evil. These customs are observed very, very stricly in some milongas, not so strictly in others. Young people even in Baires have a problem with them sometimes. I say they are a part of the Tango, and observe them whenever I feel I need to do so.
    In America, women are constantly asking men to dance, so I observe the same custom with the understanding that nobody is hurt when I say no. If women are liberated here, that is, they can ask men to dance, surely they are grown up enough to take no for an answer. The cabeceo is not really in use in America at any of the milongas I have frequented in several parts of the country, from what I can see. It is a bone of contention, as you might have guessed. Am a bit busy now. Will get back to this maybe later.
     
  3. ilovemusic

    ilovemusic New Member

    I've found the "cabeceo" highly effective in asking women to dance in ballrooms (not milongas). Wow, this is a great way to ask a woman to dance.

    One thing to watch out for when using this method, though in the US is shyness. A woman may fail to make eye contact when you position yourself near her. This maybe due to shyness rather than her indicating she doesn't want to dance.[/url]
     
  4. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Do you think I have the patience to stay in my place and glance? I look and make my approach. If she does not notice me she will when I greet her, and ask her to dance. :oops: :)
     
  5. ilovemusic

    ilovemusic New Member

    Recently I approached a woman I wanted to ask to dance, but as I approached, another woman who was sitting next to her, jumped up quickly assuming I was going to ask her to dance, "I'm XXXX", she said, "Do you remember me," as she stepped very close to me.

    I didn't know how to handle that situation. I really wanted to dance with the other lady, whom I know well. I didn't have the heart to tell her I was about to ask someone else to dance.

    :?
     
  6. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    This has happened to me too. I wouldn't say no, just as you didn't. :(
     
    ocean-daughter likes this.
  7. MadamSamba

    MadamSamba Member

    I think you did the honourable thing! I would have been a bit embarassed and hurt if you'd said, "sorry, I was about to ask her to dance", no matter how beautifully, eloquently or politely you put it! :)
     
  8. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    I agree; ILM you are a real gent; chivalry s not dead after all.

    (If you don't know what chivalry is please don't ask me.)
     
  9. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    There is something to be said about following the customs of the place that you are. Here in Ithaca I've noticed some things are pretty lax, even the dress code. I was talking to people from BA just yesterday night and all AT codes we talk about are true and alive there.
     
  10. DancePoet

    DancePoet Well-Known Member

    Sagitta: BA? What does that stand for?
     
  11. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    BA = Buenos Aires in Argentina, AT = Argentine Tango
     

Share This Page