Modern Jive Cabaceo - Part 2

25th May 2009

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"Have we anything resembling a plan?" ~ 13th Warrior


Having considered how the dynamics work in a venue I'm visiting, I decided to compare them with my "home" venue.

The long version

I turned up as the second classes was finishing and the freestyle was about to begin with a female friend. While we were paying at the door, the demo, DJ and one of the lady's in the line-up nodded "hello". We said "Hi" to the DJ changed into dancing shoes and waited for the class to end. It was obvious there were a lot more people than usual. Asking the DJ he said the music would be a bit different because of the recent high influx of beginners. He'd chosen music that could be danced simply but had subtleties for those who wanted to use them. The one catch was that I did sit out a bit more than normal to watch the dynamics of the dancefloor and the floorcraft. I was also pretty much always grabbing a drink at the end of each dance to let me see who I was going to be dancing near with respect to floorcraft

A friend was on the dance floor, she met my gaze smiled and nodded

Grabbed a drink and then cabeceoed the demo

A friend walked over to the dancefloor near me, met my gaze and nodded at the floor in front of her

I asked the lady I came with who was doing something with her shoes and was asked from behind by someone else I knew so I danced with her.

Then I danced with the lady I'd intended to dance with

Sat out and watched the floor

Extreme Lady cabeceo - a friend walked over to the dancefloor near me, met my gaze and nodded at the floor in front of her. (Warned her about some of the dodgy floorcraft I'd just seen)

Grabbed from behind for a dance

Lady cabeceo - a friend was on the dance floor, she met my gaze smiled and nodded

Chatted to the DJ

Another lady cabeceo combined with taking me by the hand and walking me onto the floor

Sat out and watched the floor with the demo

Grabbed by the hand by the demo and pulled onto the floor

Danced with the lady I came with

Up till this point I'd mainly stayed in the same place. I wandered down one side of the room to the taxi rank and asked a beginner who was bouncing up and down to the music to dance

I then continued around the room a bit further and cabeceod a lady I didn't know to dance.

Freshened up

Then back to the DJ

Went to ask a friend to dance and ended up sitting down chatting and catching up

Asked a friend to dance. Ended up discussing sabotage during the dance...

...and spent the next dance working out a new version that was more suited to her and practicing it.

Grabbed a nearby friend and then caebecoed a guy I know (much to his surprise) for a dance where we continually stole the woman from each other.

Last dance with the lady I came with.

The short version

The short version:

  • 1st dance - Lady cabeceo
  • 2nd dance - cabeceo from edge of dancefloor
  • 3rd dance - Extreme Lady cabeceo
  • 4th dance - grabbed from behind
  • 5th dance - I was cabeceoed
  • 6th dance - chatted to the DJ
  • 7th dance - I was cabeceod and taken by the hand
  • 8th dance - sat out and watched the floor
  • 9th dance - pulled onto the floor
  • 10th dance - with the lady I came with
  • 11th dance - asked a beginner to dance
  • 12th dance - cabeceo from edge of dancefloor
  • 13th dance - freshened up
  • 14th dance - talked to the DJ
  • 15th dance - chatted
  • 16th dance - asked a friend for a dance
  • 17th dance - continuing with the person I was dancing with
  • Last dance - cabeceo with the lady I came with

Lessons Learned

Well clearly the women there have their own ideas about be allowed to ask for dances! To be honest I regard this as a good thing. It's developed over time with me getting to know them and them getting comfortable asking in a variety of ways.

It's notable that in this case I was getting asked a lot more than at the venue where I was visiting. And I think this actually is a reflection of the tango cabeceo. From what I've heard, in practice it's used mainly between people who know each other. The difference here is that the women aren't restricted to eye contact (or even my being aware of them at that given moment!).

It's worth noting that in neither venue was I "stalking". I'm pretty much dancing with whoever's available and nearest, or currently grabbing me. I don't have a Grand Master Plan of Who to Dance With Next. (Apparently it's considered incredibly rude in tango to plan your next dance whilst you're still dancing and to be honest I don't see the point of doing so.)

Likewise the women I'm friends with are mainly seated in the same place, so there's not a great need for me to go wandering. The lady I went with commented that a good venue is one where "you walk in and see all the people you want to dance with". I replied that a great venue is one where "you walk in and realize you don't have enough time to dance with everyone you want to". That does have a significant effect on how much I dance with "strangers" - much lower at this venue than at the one I was visiting.

The cabeceo on my part is different too. I'm not really looking for "Yes I want to dance with you" from people I know - strangely I'm looking for "I don't want to dance". It's pretty much a given that friends will dance with each other. The reason they won't is if they're tired, injured, don't like the music, haven't seen you in a while and want to chat etc. So instead of looking for "please ask me" signals, I'm looking to see if there's a reason I shouldn't ask them to dance (though I may well still chat to them).

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 - Christopher O'Shea, 25th May 2009