What is Cabeceo and what is Mirada in Tango?
“Mirada” is looking at someones eyes to see if they would like to dance with you. When you catch their eye, then you “Cabeceo” which is cocking or tilting your head or eyebrow as if to say non-verbally “Shall we dance”? If they accept the dance they will nod back and you may then walk over to them and extend your hand and verbally greet them and escort them to the dance floor.
This is a very convenient way to invite people to dance without having to rush across the dance floor and verbally ask and possibly be declined. Sometimes a person doesn’t want to dance right now because they are busy eating, talking with friends, tired and resting, don’t like the current song being played, are waiting for someone else to dance with right now but might dance with you later on another song, or any other reason. So if they don’t accept your cabeceo right now, try again later.
Typically the man (leader) initiates the exchange, but the lady (follower) can always be very active with the mirada, looking interestedly at desired partners when they are ready and interested to dance. And even if she is talking with someone, she can still have her eye out on the floor and the crowd scanning to see if there are any inviting looks her way that she doesn’t want to miss. The lady can also nod to gentlemen to see if they want to dance and see if he nods back.
~ Steve Littler
Here are some other good articles with good tips on Cabeceo and Mirada: