Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The eyes have it

"Do you know about the cabeceo?" he asked as they sat down at a table along the dance floor.

Her look said 'nope,' and she hoped the fact that this was her first Milonga -- heck, her first formal social dance ever in the history of her little self -- was a good enough excuse to be in the dark on this one.

"You need to know about this..." he said.

Her eyes showed interest as she tuned in for the 411.

"As a follower, you need to be scanning the room and scoping out the potential leaders. If you see someone holding their gaze for a while, that's a preliminary sign that they want to dance. You can hold their gaze in return, or look away. Looking away is a gentle signal that you're not interested."

She was amazed at what she was listening to -- all of this great social experimenting offered by the Tango scene. Who knew Project Man Field Work would be so prosperous after a brief hiatus of leading a full and intense life. Yet, this all sounded so familiar to her, like she'd heard this story before. "So, it's kinda like being at the bar?" she asked. (Having never been part of that crowd, ever, either, she was taking yet another stab in the dark. All she knew was hunkering down at a coffee shop, knitting and simultaneously scanning the room and evaluating every dude that passed by with her speculation and keen sense of intuition about his innate character, while she tried to catch the gaze of the cute one across the room.)

He looked at her, as if he was trying to figure her out. "Well, I guess it's like that... from what I've heard."

Points, she thought to herself. The dude doesn't do the bar scene. She eased into the conversation more as he dished out more of the scoop on the social tangle of the weekend dance hall.

"As a woman, you can always turn down a request to dance," he continued. "Some followers won't dance with a leader until they've seen them out on the floor. See, in tango, no one wants to look bad. So, naturally, you don't want to accept an invite to dance from someone who's moves you're not impressed with. Even while you're out dancing with someone else, you can be scanning the floor for your next partner."

She was fascinated by, and grateful for, this tutorial. It seemed at once like Darwin meets the potential for drama. "So, I should stop looking at my feet while I'm dancing?" she smiled.

He nodded and got up from his chair. "Set that cabeceo on fire," he winked.

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