It’s Cabeceo (revised thanks to La Tanguera)


(La Tanguera has rightfully corrected my previous version of this post. See also her post here about it)

If you want to use the word, use it correctly. Please. I’ve seen all kinds of crazy variations of it and I don’t understand why. And I’m talking about reading it in teacher’s websites/blogs and other places where it is not really acceptable to have such mistakes. It’s not so hard to write it correctly at all.

Another aspect that has always puzzled me has been how people see it as a novelty. As Igor Polk mentions here, it’s something normally usual between friends. I come from a culture where half of the conversation involves our eyes and facial expressions. Also, more can be said in silence between words and laughs than by blabbing out every single word/idea in our mind. For me it’s very normal to use it. In fact, I’d rather not move at all from where I am standing or sitting to know if I’m welcome to dance with anyone than not. I cannot see why anyone would rather not use it…

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  1. Dearest Tango Padawan,

    Please allow me, in a kind, hearted manner, to correct you. I’m a native spanish speaker, and I can assure you that the right spelling for this word is CABECEO. As I wrote a while ago in my own blog, there is a running misunderstanding by non-native spanish speakers about this word. Unfortunately this mistake is spreading like the plag through blogs, Tango-L and other discussion groups (that includes Igor Polk’s comment, I’m afraid), which are spreading a mistaken, non-existent word and distorting my beautiful native Castellano:

    The expression CABECEO comes from the verb CABECEAR (to move or shake the head, to make the dance invitation). This is derived from the word CABEZA, which means, literally HEAD.

    Please, please. I thank you so much that you care about this. Help me preserve this word the way it should be preserved, and spread the right spelling for it–as well as as it very important meaning for the Tango culture.

  2. P.S. And now I must apologize myself for a typo in my previous post: of course I meant “like the PLAGUE”.

  3. Tango Padawan

    Hi La Tanguera! You have absolutely nothing to apologize for. Thank you so much for your correction 🙂

    I opted to edit the post instead of creating a new one with the correction to avoid further spreading of the wrong spelling. Cabeceo makes more sense even to my limited spanish. I actually tried to find a spanish encyclopedia but failed to find a free one to confirm once more the word/verb…

    once again, thank you very much!

  4. Dearest Tango Padawan,

    Thank you so much!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  5. Ack! I think I have always spelled it “cabaceo” also.

    On the subject of cabeceo, I came to the conclusion while in BA that it works best in it’s purest form, between people who already know each other. I already knew enough about it not to even attempt to cabeceo a portena/local. It “worked” with foreign women in BA and works (somewhat) in the US with women I don’t know. I can use a more subtle, more natural version of it with women I already know. Basically you just have to make eye contact.

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