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The reverse cabeceo


There’s a phenomenon I’ve been noticing lately. I think it’s the reverse cabeceo.

It’s when a revel does the man’s cabeceo to a mark. She walks directly up to him, establishes eye contact, and gives him a nod.


There’s more to the cabeceo than the repudiation of sound.

Perhaps more fundamentally, it’s a repudiation of demand, from either party.

It’s a way to enter the dance through mutual desire, as opposed to one-sided demand.

It is to be contracted gently, allowing for the development and expression of authentic desire from both parties. (And thereby allowing for a gentle and discreet withdrawal from the negotiation!)

Mutual desire is best kindled at a reasonable distance, without having placed oneself like a defenseman blocking your opponent’s forward motion.

If you want to dance with someone, show them your desire with your attention and your smile, not by demanding something of them. Demands generally feel bad for both parties. Flirting and desire feels good to both parties.

Revels, I cannot tell you how much you are giving up when you give up the spirit of the cabeceo.

  • You put yourself through the sensations of demand.
  • You give up the experience of the man’s desire. 
  • You get a dance with a startled mark who had not yet focused intent on dancing this tanda, or with you. You give up his motivation to dance with you right now to this music. I promise you marks dance better when it’s something they want.
  • You show your lack of understanding of and regard for the quality and quantity of creative power it takes to dance well. You turn it into something superficial and casual, denying it of the sacred creative force that makes it profound.

Worried you won’t dance if you aren’t aggressive? You may want to read this post on the power of desire.

If you are confident of yourself and the man you want to dance with, let him come to you. He will.

Postscript: As a woman mark I have presumed that women wouldn’t be looking for a cabeceo from me, so I have often made a direct approach. But now enough people know that I intend to lead, that I hereby resolve to keep my distance.

N.B. When I teach the cabeceo to beginning dancers, I am always aware that gender and role are increasingly delinked. To avoid two followers finding themselves together on the dance floor, I tell them “If you are the one to nod, you better be prepared to lead.”

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