Thursday, 21 January 2010

Oh, the cabeceo...

There are lots of stories about the cabeceo; the ones that worked, the ones that didn't, the ones that worked but only just, the ones that got away. Here's one of mine.

My friend arrived much later than me, and we were seated at opposite ends of the room. I was looking forward to a dance with her, but she'd been given a seat behind a large gentleman, and most of the time I couldn't even get a glimpse of her. She danced one tanda, then disappeared again. & then there was a cortina and suddenly I could see her smiling at me and nodding. I stood up and walked firmly across the floor.

However, just as I arrived in front of her I became aware that the guy sitting next to me was walking beside me, in the same direction, and I saw a look of consternation on her face. Had it all gone very wrong? My confident walk faltered: I envisaged having to walk straight past her and on to the toilets, as if that had been my confident intention all along. & then, equally suddenly, it was resolved. The girl sitting next to her rose to greet the guy walking next to me. I greeted my friend, and two happy couples took to the floor.

It usually works pretty well, once you get used to it. Perhaps it would be less nerve-racking if we used texts... but you wouldn't want to spend half a tanda fumbling with a mobile!


Anca Gheaus said...

Hihihi. After this kind of thing happened to me two or three times (both ways, as in me getting ready to dance without being invited, or having two gentlemen showing up for a dance), I started to pay attention to other people's cabeceos...And I have seen these situations several times every single evening. If there is any consolation in it, they were not all tourists!

Tangocommuter said...

Interesting places, milongas, and you've obviously observed them closely! A while ago I came across a book which was a sociology of the milonga, if I remember correctly. The author had a research grant to stay in Buenos Aires and go to lots of milongas, and the book was based on her dissertation. It seemed a wonderful idea, to go out dancing and have all expenses covered, but disentangling what is going on in a milonga from what seems to be going on might actually take a great deal of work!

Anca Gheaus said...

What's the title? I know quite a few people (try to) get grants to do this kind of research - just met someone who might get lucky in this way, actually. I really, really wonder if doing such research would end up spoiling the pleasure of both tango and research for me... but I must confess, at the same time, that BsAs milongas occasioned lots of quasi-professional reflections on the topics of equality, power and competitiveness.

Tangocommuter said...

Afraid I can't remember. I read a bit in a bookshop a few years ago. By an American academic, a woman, and it was a paperback. It looked interesting but was very expensive, one of those really well-produced American paperbacks. Looking thru' Amazon, it could have been Tango and the Political Economy of Passion: From Exoticism to Decolonization (Institutional Structures of Feeling) by Marta Elena Savigliano, 'an Argentinean political theorist and a dance professor at the University of California at Riverside. She uses her tango tongue to tell interwoven tales of sexuality, gender, race, class, and national identity.' But I'm not sure.

Yes, mixing pleasure and work can be problematic! (If the milongas are pleasure...)

I also met a woman who had a Rockefeller grant to spend a year in tango in Buenos Aires and... well, do nothing much really. She said she had to give a presentation when she got back, to show she'd really been there, I assume!

Tango en el Cielo said...

A great story, which reminds me that the cabeceo story I was telling in instalments on my Facebook page (Cachirulu's opening night) has been left in limbo for a few weeks. (Must get back to it).
I've also seen and experienced this kind of misunderstanding lots of times in BsAs and as you say it's not always foreigners that get it wrong. Another nice example I remember from BsAs was when two women sitting near each other got up to dance with the same man. He took the intended one to the floor and gestured apologies to the other. Another man sitting nearby saw what was happening and immediately jumped up and invited her so she didn't have to return to her chair.