a yes is a yes is a no

2008, March 1

And here I was at Club Villa Malcolm, seated near the wall and behind a column. Then came the first notes of El Adios and my reptilian brain made me walk in the direction of the dance floor. I approached a lady who was standing there, raised my eyebrows with a interrogative look. She nodded with a smile, I walked two more steps to enter the dance floor…

… and she stayed where she was.

Maybe this is the new way to decline an invitation. If you say “no” the guy can ask again later, but if you decline with a “yes” then the guy is in a dead end.


9 Responses to “a yes is a yes is a no”

  1. elizabeth said

    Um..I think you need to walk over to her. If she stands up and walks to you she is in mortal danger of possibly having made a mistake, you might have been cabeceo-ing someone right behind her. It happens.

  2. tangobeginner said

    She was standing already, at the edge of the dance floor. I cabeceo-ed from a not-so-far 50 centimeter distance and from her side. Theoretically I may have been inviting someone on her other side, but there was actually a column there and she can’t have believed that I was inviting the column.

  3. David said

    She’s just rude. Luckily you didn’t get to dance with her!

  4. n a n c y said

    In some milongas, the nod is only the first step. The second step would be for you to fix your eyes on her and say Bailas? or to motion toward the floor with your hand or your head. Then, if she gives you a second nod or big smile, walk over to her ( or close by). The first nod is considered only a greeting or a recognition of someone whom you know or might think you know. Also – was she actively talking to someone at the time? Try again now that she has seen you dance.

    When I get the first nod, it tells me they now know where I am sitting and will be getting to me when the right music and mood hits.

    Y suerte!

  5. patadura said

    Never happened to me… neither the doble nod check described by Nancy

    I guess sometimes a smile is just a smile, isn’t ?
    As long as you don’t let the neanderthal part of your brain take her by the hair to the center of the pista 😉

  6. one2tango said

    Nancy has a point there. The smile and the nod would be an acceptation of a cabeceo at one of the traditional milongas, but in Villa Malcolm most people – Argentines – do not use it, they say Bailas? to invite someone. They will look at you, establish eye contact and/or smile before that, so you can avoid the invitation if you don’t feel like dancing, but the invitations tend to be more explicit then in, say, El Beso or Nino Bien, where you really just nod, or smile.
    I think it needs to be said that the cabeceo is mostly used in traditional milongas here; many young Argentines, who go to Villa Malcolm or La Viruta, do not use it, they will come up to the woman to invite her – but, ojo, they WILL establish eye contact before coming up to you, so there is no pressure, if you don’t like the guy..
    well, I hope this will be helpful. The thing is, people in other parts of the world are sometimes so obsessed with the argentine codigos that they do not realize that the young Argentines observe slightly different codigos than the viejos milongueros; and the milongas are not necessarily any worse for it.
    Good luck:)

  7. tangobeginner said


    The hat, gone.
    The knife, gone.
    The handkerchief, gone.

    And now the cabeceo.

  8. Tina said

    handkerchief gone? no no, please keep the handkerchief 🙂 I like when men carry handkerchiefs… it’s sexy and well, it enables them to wipe their face between songs so that the right side of my head isn’t drenched in man sweat. 😉
    Please pardon all of my comments to your old posts, I’m just catching up! 🙂

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