I am currently building my own website called TANGO NOTES, a resource about tango music. Feel free to visit here:

Selected Tango Immigrant posts will continue to be up for the foreseeable future.

10 March 2015

A Short Guide To The Unreturned Mirada

Recently, a lady told me that she had been approached and reprimanded by a guy at an event because she hadn’t returned his mirada. It’s not the first time I’ve heard about cases like this: a guy cornering a girl, questioning her about why she didn’t dance with him. It has happened to me as well. Thankfully, I’ve never been reprimanded, but I have been informed by guys that I’ve been difficult/impossible to cabeceo, and awkward moments have been had.

Frankly, writing this post makes me a bit grumpy, because in a community where you’d expect a certain level of manners, a post about this topic really shouldn’t be necessary. But it keeps getting proved that it is indeed necessary. So on behalf of all girls (and guys as well) who have found themselves in a similar situation, I present: A Short Guide To The Unreturned Mirada.

Let’s start with listing a few possible theories as to why your mirada and cabeceo don’t yield the result you desire:

A) She doesn’t want to to dance.

B) She doesn’t want to dance with you.

C) You’re not good at mirada and cabeceo.

D) She’s not good at mirada and cabeceo.

Now let’s elaborate our theories a bit:

A) It’s a myth that all girls want to dance all the time. There are many valid reasons why some of us dance fewer tandas at times and might not prioritize you - which brings us neatly to B).

B) is a bit more hurtful to the ego. But everybody - including yourself - makes choices about dance partners, and our choices are based on all kinds of different reasons: anything from techniques not being compatible to differing musical interpretation or an excessive use of perfumed products. Very few people get to dance with everybody they want to dance with. Even if we are allowed to get disappointed sometimes, we need to be pragmatic about this, or we’re only going to make both ourselves and others unhappy.

C) If this is the reason you can’t get dances, the solution is simple: practice your cabeceo, not your eloquence.

D) Finally: if you believe the reason you’re unable to invite her is her inexperience with mirada and cabeceo, try a bit more. If you’re good at it and she wants to dance (with you), you’ll succeed. Otherwise, leave it. It’s not your place to educate people at social events. Cabeceo takes practice, and if she doesn't master it, she probably already knows that she needs to work on it. And unless you can rule out A), B), and C) - which you can't, unless you're clairvoyant - you really cannot draw any conclusions about D).

You may mean well with your direct approach, but it won’t necessarily be interpreted like this. When you tell her that you “couldn’t cabeceo her”, you might sound like you think she is the one who is being difficult, and that she is the one to blame for your lack of success. And maybe it also sounds a teensy little bit like you think you have the right to dance with her.

Mirada-cabeceo doesn’t work like online shopping. The concept isn’t intended as a way for us to order dances. It’s meant as a system where everybody can decide who to dance with.

Which I guess is the exact reason why you’re in favour of it in the first place.