Saturday, January 05, 2008

whoopsie....

Mistakes happen at milongas. It is funny how easily one can mistake an invitation for someone else as directed towards you. Cabaceo helps with this from what I am told, but it is not fail proof.

I found myself on the wrong end of an invitation a little while ago, and it would not have bothered me except that it was not handled well, and so I felt slighted a little and more upset at the correction of the invitation than the fact that the invitation was for my friend and not for me.
I was standing next to a friend of mine, who was sitting, and I heard a voice next to me say "Would you like to dance?" I turned around and saw the leader glance at me, so I thought that the invitation was for me. I said yes and then his face took on an embarrassed look and he said "Oh no, not you.... I'm sorry." at which point I realized that my friend was standing and that the invitation was actually for her, and my turning around must have caused him to look at me. Plus his approaching her "through" me, where I was between him and her, also contributed to the mistaken invitation. I quickly laughed, moved aside and sat down. But those words.... "not you" caused a little flame in my cheeks. If he had still been looking at his intended when I turned around, I would never have mistaken the invitation. Even if he glanced at me, but then turned his gaze back to his invitee, again, no mistake would have been made. But when the mistake was made, a slightly more elegant disentanglement would have been appreciated. Because even though he might have been flustered, to say to someone "Not you" implies a whole world of dismissal.


I have not been dancing long enough to know all of the proper codigos, nor have I been to BsAs yet to really experience cabaceo invitations. However I do believe that there are better ways to handle mistaken invitations without causing too much embarrassment for anyone involved.
One thing I was thinking of was that if this does happen, it would be very nice at some point in the evening to ask the person to dance. It does not have to be a whole tanda if the DJ is playing 4 or 5 song tandas, just for the last couple of songs of a tanda. It would be a very nice way to apologize for the error. I am sure many people will disagree with me on this one, but I think it would ease the situation and take away most hurt or upset feelings. I have heard that in BsAs if a woman accepts a cabaceo that is not intended for her, the gentleman will usually dance with her to avoid causing her embarrassment. This I do not expect and it does not really apply to North America as very few people truly use cabaceo here. Would I have accepted an apology dance from this leader? Most likely. Will I accept a dance from this leader in the future after what really happened? Questionable.

There is really no easy way around this sort of thing, but to allow the other person to more easily shrug off the situation would be appreciated I am sure.

Of course, all of this is from my perspective, a follower who is still gaining experience and learning. I would be interested to hear from leaders as to what their experiences have been and how they handle the situation. As well as anyone, leader or follower, who has experienced cabaceo mistakes and how they were best handled.

10 comments:

RealityPivots said...

God, I'm still agonizing over a mistake I made at Club Gricel six months ago. I happened to gaze in a woman's direction just as she gave a very distinct yes reply to a cabaceo that came from over my shoulder.
I stood up quickly and then saw that she meant the guy behind me, but I didn't think clearly enough to just sit back down. We danced but it was under a cloud. Aaagh.

NYC Tango Pilgrim said...

I was at this milonga in BA where I cabeceoed my friend who was sitting next to me. I stand up and it turned out she was accepting the one from a porteno at another table. I had to pretend I was stretching.

I had a few other wrong cabeceos situation in BA, but I do think it is a very good system to invite dances. Works for me most of the time. We should practice that here.

Debbi said...

Hey TP! I agree that the cabaceo should be used here, when I am able to use it, it is just so much easier! Good cover with the stretching!

Hi RP - I feel for you! It seems that the cabaceo mistakes, although rare, are difficult to recover from.

Thanks both of you for sharing!

Elizabeth said...

WEll, it seems his choice of words, "not you" was very rude. I had a very similar thing happen recently, when a guy I dance with a lot walked up, asked the woman next to me, and I thought he was asking me. He said, "Oh, actually I was asking her, but she is still putting on shoes, so would you like to dance.?" I said, joking, "you mean I am second best choice?." and he actually picked me up and hugged me and laughed and said something very sweet. So we danced anyway. He just made sure I felt good, and that, my friends, is good tango.
In BA I saw a few really funny cabeceo snafus. Most people just laugh it off. I now point to my self with a little questioning look, to make sure, double sure, that it is me they are cabeceo-ing. Also poor eyesight has caused a few crazy moments for a couple of guys I know. Really, cabeceo is so great. A lot of women tourists in BA don't understand that aren't being rejected, they just expect to be asked when that is simply not done. usually.

La Tanguera said...

I think this guy was really rude to you, and I understand why you wouldn't want to dance with him again--I wouldn't either. Sounds like a typical wannabe hot shot... who feels just too good about himself and steps all over anyone else just to achieve his self-aggrandizing goals.

On the cabeceo, I had a bad experience to it myself (I wrote about it in my own blog, on my accounts on my recent BA trip). But here is the skinny: there was this (Argentine) jerk who effectively cabeceo'ed me from a table across the dance floor. I looked around, and so nobody; so I stood up. He just let me stand there, for a few minutes, and never came to me, so I had to sit again, embarrased to death. I really had impression that he recognized me as a foreigner, and was probably trying to have a bit of nasty fun at my expense. Later I found out that, under the Codigos, the man is expected to walk toward the woman after the cabeceo happen, and so I should have waited to see him stand up before doing it myself. Nevermind...

La Tanguera said...

Deb, you've been Tagged... (see my blog for details...)

Gustavo said...

hey tanguera, about the cabeceo: The man is expected to walk first, but at some point you're gonna have to stand up as well, the thing is: you have to keep the eye contact all the time, and not look around, that's how you can make sure it's for you and not someone else. When you're getting close to each other and you realize he/she was being cabeceada/o by someone else, or just being a jerk like in your case, you can pretend nothing happened and keep walking towards the bathroom or whatever. ;)
From a man's point of view, I love cabeceo cause you never have to deal with being rejected in front of somebody, which I think really sucks.

koolricky said...

Hi Debbi:

This story has nothing to do with codigos, it has to do with rudeness and bad education. If he had the smallest decencyhe would have said somthing like "Well, I was asking your friend but I would be honoured if I could dance with you later on..." Something like that. Do not confuse rudeness with codigos!

Debbi said...

Thanks everyone for the comments. I was trying to focus more on how to deal with these situations. I agree that he did not handle it in the best way possible. But in thinking back on this, I am not surprised at all from what I know of him or from what people have told me about the awkwardness of these moments when one's brain stops. I guess it can be likened to flight or fight. ha!

Amber said...

Ha! Thanks for sharing. Just found your blog today, and really enjoy it.

I got to practice cabeceo at my first ever tango workshop/lesson. I don't have the best eyesight, and as everyone was practicing at once mistakes were made... I wrote about it on my blog.