Tango Argentino > Optimal and Minimum Mirada/Cabeceo Distance and Angle?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Tango Distance, Feb 26, 2016.

  1. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    I'm not complaining! I have a very high acceptance rate and have learned to recognize that "floor fixation" look that means "don't ask me."

    Here's the deal: It's easy to mirada/cabeceo someone sitting or standing by themselves, who is looking about the room. Even in groups, if someone is scanning it is easy to pick them out. It is easy to move past someone that stares hard at the floor when you look their way. Ladies in groups of two or more, talking, are trickier, and often represent the majority of the seated ladies and the only choices left (having danced with the others already). I'll boldly approach anyways... 10 meters, no reaction... 5 m no reaction... 4 m ... 3 m ... 2 m ... they finally look up. Every time they seem glad to be asked, and if I apologize for interrupting the conversation the lady will say something like "No, no, don't worry, I'm here to dance!"

    I feel like maybe I could do this better. If I'm approaching someone close enough to just ask verbally it seems like that might be doing the mirada/cabeceo wrong.

    So is there a minimum distance, something like don't mirada/cabeceo from closer than 3 meters? What's a good working distance?

    My other question is on angle. I realize the room arrangement can affect this. Is it better to try to look across the room, or is it better to look along (or against?) the line of dance and look along the edge of the room?

    I don't look for this actively, but have noticed sometimes seated ladies will give me a big smile as I dance past them. DW has told me they would be good candidates for mirada/cabeceo.
  2. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    Walking toward someone until you get a successful cabeceo is like a faux-cabeceo - trying to obey the letter of the law but not the spirit. You haven't had it go wrong since the lady always seems glad to dance with you (if the ladies really are there to dance, they should be looking around while talking and trying to mirada someone). But, if the lady didn't want to dance with you, and you walked toward her till you caught her eye, would she be able to turn you down gracefully without anyone around knowing? Probably not with that method. Was it clear to everyone around that you were trying to cabeceo her? Probably.

    I don't think there's any minimum distance for the cabeceo as long as you keep the spirit in mind: to not be too obvious to other people and enable the woman turn you down gracefully if she wants to. But whatever the distance, don't approach while you cabeceo.

    As for angle, I tend to go for a 45 degree angle. Along the sides is really hard. Across the dance floor is ok if its right after the cortina, otherwise the dancers block you.
    Tango Distance likes this.
  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I have to want to dance really badly to deal with this. If they truly want to dance, and they understand and accept how things are supposed to work in AT (yes, I know they don't always, or even most of the time, in the US and Europe) they should be aware of this and this behavior should be a conscious decision.
    You, on the other hand, have to decide how you want to play your hand.
    You aren't supposed to be approaching anyone if you are playing strictly "by the rules."

    Yup. That's someone who wants to dance.

    Angle? Distance. Can you see them? Can they see you? You can turn sideways in your seat, etc. How far can your head turn?
    One time I thought I had someone's acceptance at a formal milonga. After marching most of the way around the room, I realized that, no... wrong, there she goes with someone else.
    Again. Can she see you?
    The woman who eagerly decided to dance with me was the only one who criticized me during the several to many hours I danced in Buenos Aires.
  4. LadyLeader

    LadyLeader Active Member

    When the pista is large I have been more successful after the dancers have started to fill up the floor. When there is a space of 1-3 meters between the couples I catched the follower eye and we both waited the dancing couple to pas and nodded eagerly when the eyes met again. This limited area made it really clear that we were aiming each others!
    Tango Distance likes this.
  5. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Thanks for the responses.
    This is a good point, I hadn't thought about it making the lady uncomfortable but I can see that. That's a good metric for distance.
    There is the issue of those that don't know. In my little area, it often happens the ladies know but have to sit 2, or 3, or 4, or 5 tandas between dances. I can see how they get bored sitting for 30+ minutes -- talking is fun and a natural thing to do. A detail I left out is when I have "broken up" these conversations the ladies have been sitting for several tandas.

    Another detail of my little area is a Milonga might be as few as 10 people, and over 30 is a big crowd for us. It doesn't take long to run through the 4 or 5 ladies actively scanning, the rest will be deep in conversations, so I kind of felt pushed towards the method described (refinement thoughts are coming up).

    BTW I generally ask the lady in the middle of the group -- that breaks the group up and would make mirada/cabeceo easier the next time, except the gap fills up quickly!

    I haven't tried it through the gaps, I'll have to give that a try.

    Some things I'll try doing to improve:
    • Look for ladies mirada/cabeceoing me -- I could do this better
    • I have been giving quick looks, maybe giving the lady more time to respond would be good
  6. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    "Real" milongas, where you are expected to dance a tanda with one partner, only require that people who want to dance scan the room, what, maybe once every 15 minutes. The end of a tanda, during the cortina, and when you hear the flavor of the next group of songs, is when you look for a partner. That leaves plenty of time for talking, doesn't it?
    UKDancer and Tango Distance like this.
  8. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    So it sounds like about 20 people is an average milonga for you? It's much the same in my community, so I can sympathize with your cabeceo conundrums :) You know everyone at the milonga, you know which follows like dancing with you, so it's easy to gloss over the cabeceo. I think if there really is no question in your mind that they won't say no (good friend, you know they like dancing with you and they've been sitting out a lot, etc.), then just asking verbally is a good option. This stops reinforcing bad cabeceo habits like aggressively trying to catch their eye when they're deep in conversation. Then try a real cabeceo for anyone you're not absolutely sure about.

    However, if you're invested in getting good at the cabeceo in case you visit a bigger community, or want to build good habits in your community, then you might want to go cabeceo-only full time. You'll get known as a lead who only cabeceos women who mirada him, and the women should (hopefully) start to mirada you more often. There might be follows you don't get to dance with at all in a night at first. While leaving the milonga they might say something like "you didn't dance with me tonight!" Which you'd respond with "I wanted to! I tried catching your eye several times, but you must've been having some really good conversation. Look for me next time!" Or, if they don't say anything, you could drop some hints. "I wanted to dance with you, but I just couldn't seem to catch your eye!"

    I think the verbal approach is perfectly valid, but I'd recommend the cabeceo-only-with-mirada approach myself :)
  9. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    I remember a workshop on invitation by S. Arce. He explained that this was a form of cabeceo. Thus, once, your current tanda is completed, you may walk directly to the seated lady, there is no need of another cabeceo routine.
  10. tangomaniac

    tangomaniac Active Member

    Cabeceo is wonderful if everybody plays the game. It didn't work for me when men ask women during the cortina or when women gaze into the floor and don't look around when the music begins.
    TomTango likes this.
  11. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    I don't like this form of cabeceo very much. I think when you're dancing with someone, it's all about them; they're your world. I try to actively avoid making eye contact with others while I'm dancing.
  12. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    The onlookers?
  13. LadyLeader

    LadyLeader Active Member

    When I am at a new place where I do not know the followers this kind of smiles are communicating about her positive attitude towards femail leaders or towards me and my dancing. I know that it is worth to search their eyes later on the evening when the music is suitable. It can be a kind of preparatory cabeceo.
    Some followers have commented it in the same way; the later cabeceo is initiated by a smile or by catching a leaders eye earlier in the evening.
  14. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    Your lead/follow.
  15. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    The good distance is when cabeceo is accepted.

    For short sighted is 1m, for long sighted is 20 m. ;)

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