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More Thoughts from Ney Melo

Posted: 15:55, Thursday 6 October 2005 by Megan Jones

Updated: 15:49, Thursday 6 October 2005 by Ben

A while ago I posted a paragraph written by a tango teacher in New York, Ney Melo, about ‘milonga etiquette.’ I’m adding another – he just makes me laugh the way he writes, (and he has some good points I think…I’m leaving the more controversial ones until later…). If you’re interested in more, go to

This one is about picking up the signals from people you are hoping to ask to dance….. Goes both ways I think, not just for the men. ‘Cabeceo’ is the name for the process of catching a prospective dance partner’s eye across the floor as way of invitation. Holding the person’s gaze means the invitation has been accepted….

Pay attention to your potential partner’s body language when you are getting ready to ask them for a dance. There are non-verbal signals that you should try to clue in to. Gentlemen, if you are headed towards a woman and she sees you and quickly turns away, reaches down to fiddle with her shoe strap, digs in her purse endlessly – it means she DOESN’T WANT TO DANCE. If she even jumps up and heads for the ladies room, don’t persue her and grap her shoulder as she flees thinking ‘maybe she didn’t see me’. If she notices you and maintains eye contact, or smiles, or waves, or in general looks pleased that you are headed her way, then by all means ask her! If you are not sure, go over and say hello, and judge by her reaction whether she wants to dance.

You can look around the room as well and guess which people are wanting to dance. If they are sitting or standing right by the dance floor, looking intently and wistfully at the dancers, looking around to catch the attention of potential partners, etc, then they are most certainly available. If they are sitting with all their attention focused on their companion, deep in conversation, eating, enjoying a drink and looking otherwise very comfortable where they are, approach with caution. See if you can catch their eye. If they look away, then save your invitation for later. Yes, this is a version of the cabeceo. If someone is in the midst of an animated conversation, do not hang around in the periphery of their vision, tapping your foot, waiting for the split-second when they pause for breath to interject your invitation. Ask someone else.

Ney Melo


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