So at last London has a regular 'cabeceo milonga'. It started late in August with an afternoon and evening session, and it was a big success. There were tables for men and tables for ladies, and also tables for people who wanted to sit together. Perhaps almost as important... everyone actually had a chair! (That exclamation mark explains what it's usually like here.)
Why is it a good idea for organisers to take this step? Well, think about it. These days, most men and women expect to agree at a distance on a dance, so we're almost there already except for the seating arrangements; it seems a simple step to organise the seating to optimise this new (to us) custom. And it's surprisingly good fun: you sit opposite partners most of whom you know at least by sight waiting for that magic moment when the cortina dies away and a new tanda starts. There are a few moments, a buzz of excitement and anticipation as eyes dart back and forth, then leads start to stand stand up and cross the floor to greet another partner, and the ronda begins again. Generally you wait for the music: ah! it's a vals, and I know who I'd like to dance a vals with right now! It's more or less what we already do, but it is so much clearer when it's organised like this. Of course it's helpful to have some kind of common space – a refreshments area or a bar – where conversations can be continued, or started. But the difference the cabeceo in good light makes is that the dance to the music becomes the real focus, the dance with different partners is what we focus on and enjoy, and the result is we enjoy a much better evening or afternoon.
'It can't happen here...' It's what people were saying about dancing in close embrace six years ago in London: how wrong they were! Suddenly we find there's nothing extraordinary about dancing close, even with partners we've never met before. I always hoped a 'cabeceo milonga' could happen here but I think I wrote that it seemed unlikely that it would ever happen. Of course, it now happens just within the context of recent 'tango clubs', rather than in the context of public milongas, but it's a great achievement, and thanks and congratulations to the organisers. Tango has moved on fast in London, and we have to thank the people who've created the foundation for this, and those who have made it happen.