[foto by alex.tango.fuego]
Here is Janis Kenyon's letter to the editor on the subject of Milena Pleb's interview in El Tangauta No. 168 [July 2008]. Thanks to Mari over at My Tango Diaries for sharing this on Facebook.
As I was reading, the first thing I noticed was this: "He may not have seen a woman dance with another man yet."
That's an important one for me, perhaps the most important.
99% of the time I won't invite a woman to dance unless I have watched her dance. What am I looking for? First and foremost - is she dancing close embrace? If her eyes are closed that always catches my eye - bonus points. I observe the nuances and character of her walk - leg extension, caressing the floor as she steps, collecting her feet, waiting for the lead.
Auto-boleos, excessive un-led embellishments or shoulder musicality are sure-fire deal killers for me. I'm probably missing out on some good dances, but that's just me. I find it difficult to get past that stuff and enjoy the dance. It's a distraction for me, distracting for my lead.
I'm way too selective/critical/picky in my invitations to dance. I freely and publicly acknowledge that. I try to work on that at every milonga I go to. That's the best I can do.
My experience in Buenos Aires was that cabeceo didn't work for me. Zero, zilch, nada, one rather large goose egg. My tango at the time was intermediate mediocre at best - so that was working against me. With porten~as, they generally won't respond to strange gringos - especially strange gringos, or I should say yanquis, who have a fucked up walk.
It worked just fine with European and American followers. Verbal invites worked with them, too. Verbal invites do not work, or at least didn't for me, with porten~as. Unless you are really good looking, or a really good dancer. Or unless you have had a personal introduction through a mutual friend. Then you are no longer a stranger from a strange land. That's my take on it.
The time-honored codigos of tango are important for us all to be learn and be knowledgeable about, incorporate them into our tango as best we can, and spread the good word.
We should all try to work on our cabeceo here in the U.S. - number one because it works - it's a proven method for non-verbal invitations. Number two - for when we make it back to Buenos Aires. Some day.