Enriqueta Kleinman tells me she went to a milonga in London. It'll remain nameless because she's not sure which night it was, but she says it was in a kind of side street or alley.
'You know, I've travelled regularly in the US and Europe, and I know cabeceo isn't practiced that much outside Buenos Aires, so I know what to expect. But a guy came up to me and just pointed to me and the floor! I couldn't believe it. Like I was his cow to be pushed around! He couldn't even say please!'
This is bad, this is very bad. It's uncivil and uncivilised. It's plain rude, it's really bad manners. It's shameful. It's definitely not cool. If you say 'please' you are in a sense begging, and accepting that you can be refused, although it's still hardly fair as you know that by being polite you are making it harder for a partner to refuse you. Perhaps it wouldn't matter too much if the dance was jive, without a lot of body contact, but tango is different.
Cabeceo is simple enough. A girl looks at you, or you catch her eye. You nod. If she nods back you go over and invite her onto the floor. If she doesn't nod back you look elsewhere. What's difficult about that? But ladies have to be part of it. If you spend all evening chatting with your friends, you might find yourself complaining next morning that you didn't get any dances. If you want to dance, it helps if you keep your eyes on and around the dance floor. Fact is, there are frequently more women than men, so I guess that refusing dances might might feel wrong, but if a guy finds he's regularly refused he's going to try and improve, or get out, so it's win-win.
I didn't think of asking Enriqueta how she responded to the boorish Englishman. (English? Surely not! Must have been a visitor...) But I know her slightly, and I know her English is good, so it's quite possible that a shamefaced would-be dancer sneaked out of a milonga that night. I hope so.